We have slashed our engineering time by about 20% as a result of the seamless automation solution from Siemens.Christoph Bang, CEO, BANG Kransysteme GmbH & Co. KG
BANG process cranes result in more efficient and safe productionIntelligent BANG process cranes not only transform processes to make them more efficient, but thanks to condition monitoring and distance measuring systems, also safer and more reliable. The key to achieving this is a scalable and high-performance automation system based on Siemens components.
The factory door opens and almost 30 meters of steel is moved from the factory to a forecourt, turned and then brought into a new position for final assembly – "there is not enough space in the factory hall itself", explained a laughing Christoph Bang. Together with his brother, he owns and manages BANG Kransysteme GmbH & Co. KG, and as machinery construction engineer, he is predominantly responsible for the engineering and marketing of process cranes, which are developed and fabricated right here in Oelsnitz, Germany. The steel beam belongs to one of these process cranes, which is presently being assembled for delivery to a steel mill.
Just as impressive as the mechanical construction itself, are the dimensions of the electrical container that accommodates several large converters. "The control system and converters must be well protected to withstand the harsh and challenging process environment in a steel mill, which is why we are using a climate-controlled container. For other applications, for example tool cranes for press automation in the automotive domain, the control cabinets are far more compact", explained Christoph Bang.
Far more than just up, down, left and right
The space that the control system takes up in the control cabinet is comparatively small with respect to the converters, but it is the decisive component that sets BANG cranes apart from their competitors. "Our process cranes are so much more than basic lifting gear – in reality, we can call them large-scale robots" – continuing, Christoph Bang explained "this is because our cranes can automatically move heavy loads in challenging production areas and risky environments."
To achieve this, over the years the company has continually increased the level of automation of its solutions. We've also integrated a sway control system to ensure that load movement is dampened when accelerating and braking – a central function not only to make handling easier in the manual mode, but also to facilitate semi or fully automatic operation of our crane systems. Based on powerful sensors and control system, BANG cranes can automatically pick up, move and place down loads so that manual interventions can be restricted to an emergency stop or when transitioning to manual control.
The business drivers: Safety, reliability and efficiency
The background to this development is due to the fact that requirements placed on the availability and productivity of crane systems is continually on the rise. Process cranes are important components in the intralogistics of state-of-the-art production processes – "if a crane comes to a standstill in an automotive body press, then production literally grinds to a halt. As a consequence, our solutions must work 24/7 and this is only economically feasible by having a high degree of automation", explained Christoph Bang.
This is the very reason that BANG depends on fail-safe control systems and high quality electronic parts and components all the way up to redundant architectures in order to guarantee reliable and safe crane operation for users. "At the same time, work safety is naturally always a main focus of our crane systems, which is why we have solutions based on high-performance sensors and controls to bring the crane to a safe stop in the event of an emergency stop or a dangerous situation," explains Christoph Bang.
Developing and equipping in close collaboration
This collaboration resulted in automation and drive solutions from Siemens being fully integrated in the company's process cranes. BANG was the first Siemens Solution Partner for cranes in Germany, and this collaboration has developed over the years to become a true partnership: BANG benefited at an early stage in the close contact as a result of the innovation in the automation domain; while Siemens, on the other hand, leverages Bang's technological expertise to continually improve its solutions for cranes. This resulted in a whole series of innovative solutions, for example, the sway control or the advanced safety functions of the crane systems.
The huge diversity of functions and systems makes Siemens automation and drive technology attractive, but it's the reliability that is especially crucial. "Some of our process cranes have been in operation around the world for more than 20 years, so we need a partner who can guarantee the appropriate sustainability and global availability of spare parts," states Christoph Bang. "We must also be able to adapt our systems to address the widest range of requirements. Thanks to the outstanding scalability of Siemens systems, we have been able to successfully implement a modular concept to address this objective."
With Siemens systems, we can use those components that are precisely the right fit for the application. This is also important as space in the control cabinet for process cranes represents a significant cost factor.Marcel Frank, Head of the Electrical Design Department, BANG Kransysteme GmbH & Co. KG
Integrated solutions support engineering
Marcel Frank, who heads up the electrical design department for Bang, also sees a huge advantage as a result of the scalability of Siemens components. "This means that we can use those components that precisely fit the application. This is also important, as space in the control cabinet for process cranes represents a significant cost factor." In many of their applications, BANG uses SINAMICS booksize converter modules, which offer an especially high power density.
All the components can be engineered and configured in a uniform and seamless environment as Marcel Frank explained: "We have one system and one program with which we can cover everything – from selecting components in the TIA Selection Tool through exchanging data with the electrical planning department up to engineering standard and safety-relevant functions in the TIA Portal." And specifically, the current generation of SIMATIC S7-1500 controllers offers a high degree of integration and a huge diversity of options and features – which makes configuring even simpler. All of this certainly pays off for BANG: "As a whole, using this seamless solution we slashed our engineering time by about 20%", acknowledged Christoph Bang.
The next step: The large-scale cobot, a crane that can collaborate with humans in a process environment without any protective fence at all.Christoph Bang, CEO, BANG Kransysteme GmbH & Co. KG
The future: Even more modular, intelligent and safer
The team of developers headed up by Marcel Frank is already working with a modular system so that they can more efficiently implement their projects – a trend that will certainly continue: "Our goal for the future is to work with different feature configurations rather than having to actually program features. Standardizing the automation and drive technology is an important basis in achieving this objective", explained Marcel Frank. Efficient engineering is a decisive factor as the degree of automation of crane systems will continue to grow – and this crane expert continued: "Our objective is that in a few years not only will our cranes operate automatically, but they will also be able to make autonomous decisions. For example, how a transport task can be tackled in the most efficient way – whether it be to save energy or time – or how to achieve the best positioning accuracy. To do this, we require smart systems that can think for themselves."
With the SIMATIC S7-1500 controller, BANG has a system at its fingertips that also supports state-of-the-art concepts such as AI and edge computing. A crane that thinks for itself – for Christoph Bang this is also the precondition for the next major step: "In my opinion, large-scale robots will be followed by large-scale cobots: A crane that can collaborate with humans in a process environment without any protective fence at all." We will also be asking Siemens for their support and skill sets in order to develop the appropriate solutions for the sensors and the control system. Christoph Bang is well aware, "a lot still has to be done so that concepts such as these are safe and efficient – and we have already embarked on this path."
BANG Kransysteme GmbH & Co. KG
BANG Kransysteme is a complete supplier of high-quality solutions in the crane construction domain. Werner Bang founded the company back in 1989 as service workshop for repairing lifting equipment and crane systems. Today, BANG Kransysteme in Oelsnitz in Northern Germany is an internationally recognized specialist for planning, fabricating, installing and servicing process cranes, automatic cranes and winch systems capable of payloads of up to 500 tons. Over 100 technical specialists – from mechanical design engineers through software engineers – are working to develop crane solutions that can make transport tasks in industrial processes even safer, more reliable and more efficient.