Heavy-lifting manufacturer launches rope-repair technology

13th September 2013 By: Anine Kilian - Contributing Editor Online

Heavy-lifting equipment manufacturer and services provider Konecranes in March supplied State-owned freight logistics group Transnet’s City Deep upgrading project with RailQ, an alignment survey technology devel- oped to provide faster, safer and more accurate analysis to measure rail-to-rail elevation.

RailQ prolongs the life of runways and ropes used in tracks on runway rails on which large cranes travel. It was developed in Norway and uses precise survey techniques with specific software to accurately measure the straightness, elevation and the span of the rails.

“Improper tracking leads to premature rope, wheel and rail wear, resulting in costly repairs and downtime, as well as inefficient and suboptimal crane opera- tion,” says Konecranes Southern Africa sales and marketing manager John MacDonald.

“The result is a precise, reliable runway analysis that provides cost-effective solutions for any rail system and for all makes and models of cranes. It also takes a fraction of the time to conduct, compared with traditional rail surveys,” he notes.

MacDonald explains that efficient crane operation requires a crane that runs straight and smooth on its runway.

“RailQ uses proprietary visualisation technology and a remote-controlled robot trolley which runs along the rail, collecting data using Bluetooth technology and transferring that data to a total station to determine tracking issues and misalign- ments,” he says, adding that these are critical challenges which can potentially lead to accelerated wear, higher costs and even failure of cranes.

“At the total station, survey software processes the data for straightness, span, elevation and rail-to-rail elevation. RailQ inspection methods can also verify the geometry of the crane structure and components, identifying problems that can result from geometric deficiencies,” he says.

Supported by visualisation software that produces accurate and dependable calculations, Konecranes engineers analyse all RailQ survey data and provide customers with proactive, cost-effective recommendations for corrective action, notes MacDonald.

“The RailQ testing method can reduce surveying time by more than 80% com- pared with other runway survey methods, by assessing all dimensions of the crane rail with one measurement, keeping downtime to a minimum,” MacDonald points out.

He notes that, with RailQ, technicians navigate the runway once to obtain all distinct measurement data, reducing surveying time and significantly decreasing the risks of falling and tripping hazards for a technician.


Last year Konecranes released RopeQ, an electronic wire rope inspection method that enables economical and safe rope operations used in mines, ports and in the gas and petrochemicals industries.

“Combining engineering resources and years of research, RopeQ is the latest wire rope testing method,” says MacDonald.

He explains that RopeQ wire rope inspection, which was developed by Konecranes, is a visual and nondestructive testing wire rope inspection service that examines what is not visible on the ropes to the naked eye.

The service provides data on the current condition of ropes, leading to increased operator safety, while helping to lower the total operating costs of lifting equipment.

“RopeQ detects internal broken wires that would be missed using traditional inspection methods. It provides a quick-to-read and easy-to-understand report on the real rope condition,” states MacDonald.

Detecting Nonvisible Rope Failures

Wire ropes contain up to 400 individual wires and, throughout a wire rope’s working life, the wires are subject to bending and abrasion, explains MacDonald.

“If too many of these wires are broken, the safety of the rope is jeopardised. Only the outer surface of a wire rope is checked during a visual inspection. It is impossible to inspect the inner core using standard methods of inspection.

“For this reason, many wire ropes are classified as safe, even when they should be discarded because of heavy internal damage.”

MacDonald highlights that it is also worthwhile knowing that the ISO 4039 standard requires the ropes to be inspected if the lifting machinery has not been used in three months, he says, noting that the comprehensive inspection method will fulfil all inspection requirements.

He adds that it will also increase safer use of equipment and wire ropes, since the condition of the inner wires is also inspected.

“In applications with a higher safety risk, it is necessary to measure the inner and outer surface of a wire rope. The magnetic-inductive method of inspection is a practical and reliable method of assessing the condition of a wire rope,” he says, adding that the observations and results of the RopeQ inspections are highlighted in a comprehensive report, with rope-change schedules and the next inspection recommendations.

“Service and maintenance are a high priority for us and these new products put us at a huge advantage in terms of fulfilling our mandate to service and maintain all makes of cranes,” MacDonald concludes.