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Opting for refurbishment to ensure cranes operate more effectively for longer

A crane manufactured at Condra's Germiston factory. (Image source: Condra)

A crane delivered and installed in 1985 is set to continue its working life at a Mpumalanga power station after undergoing a refurbishment at Condra’s main factory in Germiston

The order for the 40-ton electric overhead travelling crane was originally received by Condra when it was based in Elsburg. The company has subsequently moved its operations to even bigger premises; introduced two new lines of hoists; extended its crane offering to include telescopic, automated, process and cantilever cranes; and expanded to occupy four factories in South Africa, Europe and South America.

In this time, the 21-m-span crane at the power station has been hard at work, providing reliable service through all these years. Originally, the crane boasted twin 20-ton hoists which were reeved together and mounted on the same crab to achieve 40-ton capacity. 11 years ago, it was upgraded by through the fitment of an additional and faster, 16-ton hoist for use on smaller workshop tasks.

Now, with its ruby anniversary on the immediate horizon, the machine is undergoing a refurbishment at the Condra factor in Germiston. This three-week overhaul will see it retain the smaller auxiliary machine but replace the two 20-tone hoists with a single 40-tone unit reeved to deliver a central lift. Power will come from a two-speed 36kW/12kW motor.

The single unit replacement hoist will be installed on an improved crab delivering a variable cross-travel speed of up to 20 m per minute. The hoist itself has fixed lifting speeds, but will be equipped to allow fitment of variable speed drives in the future. Lifting height is 8 m. Overhaul of the long travel is to be carried out by the customer.

The refurbishment of the crane will enable it to deliver a precise and improved handling capability and will ensure its continued operation into the future.

Saving costs through refurbishment

“Refurbishment work is usually only carried out on Condra products,” remarked a Condra spokesperson. “We do not actively seek cranes from rival firms because of cost, which is usually very high because of imported spare parts. Spares for Condra cranes are manufactured locally. Crane refurbishment is usually well worthwhile. We encourage it because new crane prices are 60% higher today than they were 10 years ago.

According to Condra, the advantages of refurbishment over purchasing new include immediate realisation of cost-savings and the continued use of a machine already familiar to operators. The latter avoids the need for retraining. Condra offers the option of changing crane capacity and span. Cranes 20 years or older can usually be improved by installing variable frequency drives to facilitate acceleration and deceleration. Enhancements such as a digital read-out on the load and remote control can also be fitted.

“With refurbishment we can give back to the customer a crane that is much faster and much lighter than it was before, and we can fit a frequency drive on the long travel to speed it up, and we can incorporate in the refurbishment any kind of modern technology that he wants, including hoists of different capacity,” the spokesman said.

“We can also automate the crane, in which case we improve the mechanicals to incorporate new electrical equipment. These options are offered across the board during any refurbishment, from standard 2M workshop cranes to the higher performing machines such as Class 3 and Class 4,” the spokesman concluded.

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