Manufacturer’s Monthly spoke to MHE-Demag Australia’s sales engineer, Robert Silveri, on why the company’s KBK light crane systems are still growing in popularity five decades after being introduced to the market.
MHE-Demag’s KBK light cranes have been present in the Australian market for over 50 years. Being the first of its kind, the KBK series has been setting the standard for light crane systems ever since.
Despite the growth over the past decades in import of foreign goods, sending the notion that the demand for cranes and lifting equipment by manufacturing industries might be falling, the MHE-Demag have seen their KBK systems being in demand and finding new applications within industries times and again.
The secret, the MHE-Demag believe, lies in the flexibility of KBK system. “We can configure a KBK system to suit many light materials handling applications from under 50kgs up to 2,000kgs. We can also help from conceptualising the idea of what needs to happen in a workshop or production line to the design and operation of the crane,” MHE-Demag sales engineer, Robert Silveri told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
“Almost every workshop – regardless of whether it is a large-scale business or a small operation—is likely to have some form of material handling challenges to overcome. A vast majority of these challenges have two criteria in common: firstly, they are customised processes and secondly, they include handling of items that are comparatively low in weight.”
While many of these organisations may refrain from purchasing a fixed installation to aid their lifting tasks and prefer to deploy floor-bound lifting devices or even manual handling, MHE-Demag and their customer base are convinced that the KBK light crane system is the ideal solution for these companies.
“By freeing up floor space that is occupied by say fork lifts, workshops can increase their productivity by more than they would expect.”
Over the years, the KBK system has found applications in many industries that require precision and ergonomic design for their crane systems.
“For example, in the glass industry it is not enough to just lift, move and lower pieces of glass. The key word here is ‘ergonomic.’ The workers need to be confident that the glass can be handled precisely and is not going to be damaged. MHE-Demag have shown on numerous occasions and in various industries that these types of highly specified requirements can be met with KBK.”
Flexibility has allowed KBK system to be successfully utilised from light applications such as pallets handling and recycling, to heavy-duty applications in the plastic-moulding industry, where sometimes dye barrels weighing up to two tonnes are lifted up.
“We have even been able to apply KBK within semi-automated storage and retrieval warehouses. The KBK systems combined with our ergonomic, high-speed electric chain hoists have provided a cost effective solution to handle pallets used within the warehouse,” Silveri said.
By minimising manual handling, KBK helps reduce risks during operations that would otherwise be too risky for human operators.
“KBK should be a key consideration when a decision is being made on whether items can be safely handled by a person or by a machine,” Silveri said.
“When using a KBK light crane system, the vast majority of effort is removed from the operator and placed on the crane. At the same time, the manoeuvrability and efficiency of the load movement is maintained. In this way the risk of injury is diminished or eliminated and in many cases productivity actually increases.”
MHE-Demag also offer a training program for crane operators to make sure they are competent in using the KBK cranes.
“While the training program is not a mandatory requirement, it is a service we offer to clients to ensure safe operations of the cranes,” Silveri said.
Efficiency and durability are other qualities that KBK system has demonstrated over the years.
“KBK light crane system utilises Demag’s high efficiency three-phase electric motors which immediately have advantages both from the perspective of running costs and environmental impact compared to a fossil fuelled forklift or even a battery electric forklift,” Silveri said.
“Furthermore, many KBK systems, particularly at the lighter end of the spectrum, say less than 1000kgs, can travel down and across the workspace manually with minimal effort by the operator thereby eliminating all external power sources.”
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to maintenance, MHE-Demag provides detailed maintenance proposals, individually for every piece of equipment to reflect its actual usage and criticality.
Noting that there is no bigger mistake than over- or under maintaining a machine, Silveri said, the majority of a KBK system is more durable than one might think.
“We see systems out there in use for decades. Apart from wear and tear parts, a KBK system can live as long as the workshop around it and can grow and change with it. This is one of the key reasons why we see businesses coming back to us, wanting to increase their installed base of KBK, because it so durable.”