Partnership to make robot-controlled load-management system

Technology company Verton Australia is joining with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) to manufacture the first robot-controlled load-management system in the world.

The new system will aim to eliminate the need for human-held taglines for crane operations, reducing the risk of human injury, and is a $4.4 million investment, with $600,00 in contributions from the IMCRC.

Based in Brisbane, Verton already manufactures its R-Series load-management system and hopes to integrate robots and data analytics to further improve the product.

“To be involved in a project to adapt the development and manufacturing of the R-Series through the use of robotics is a compelling concept that has enormous potential. As well as enabling unprecedented safety for crane operations, the R-Series also improves efficiency and productivity,” said Verton CEO, Trevor Bourne.

The QUT researchers will be employed to both improve the control system and find uses for robots in the manufacture of the load-management system. Continuous improvement will be built into the system with machine learning and energy efficiency measures. The project presented the ideal opportunity for industry and research collaboration, said Professor Jonathan Roberts, who leads the QUT team.

“We are excited by projects like this one when the aim is to make a traditional piece of equipment, like a crane, and turn it into a smart robot,” said Roberts.

“For instance, the new device will enable the wind farm industry to install wind turbine blades more safely and in more challenging environments. It is currently not easy to install a blade, up to 100m in length, from a moving ship in high winds.”

David Chuter, IMCRC CEO and managing director, said that the unique nature of the collaboration meant that Verton could compete with international companies.

“Collaboratively, they will change industries because they see the benefits that their manufacturing research will create, not just for Australia – but globally,” he said.

Bourne also is looking to new markets as a result of the collaboration.

“Our objective is for the product to be used all around the world and with the support and innovative expertise of partners such as QUT and IMCRC, we are extremely confident of achieving this goal,” he said.