Remote Working Around a Trailer Improves Safety

Steelbro leads the Malaysian market with advanced options available for their Sidelifters. Working remote round a trailer may not be what most of us imagine these days.

Steelbro have increased the range of remote options it is offering to customers in Malaysia. All options are cost effective and provide good functionality and control. The range includes a choice of cable remote or radio remote.

Richard Brown Steelbro Research and Development Manager says “The radio remote allows the operator a greater freedom of movement when operating the Sidelifter as they are not limited by the cable connection. The Sidelifter can also be started using the radio remote. This means the operator can easily operate the machine from any safe location. For example operating from the front of the Sidelifter is now possible rather than being tethered to the rear of the trailer with a cable remote. “

Radio remotes can either be supplied with new Sidelifter purchases or purchased separately to upgrade existing units. The operation of both the cable and radio remotes is similar, meaning no additional training is required when units are upgraded to the radio remote. The remote has two joystick controls, left and right allowing individual control of the left and right cranes respectively. The remote also allows the operator to select the mode required by utilising the dial to choose: traverse, to move cranes from 20’ to 40’ container position, stabiliser, to deploy stabilisers, or arms, to control cranes. An operator can also move between high and low speed from the remote. The functionality the remote provides enables precise control over all activities making it simple and easy to operate the Sidelifter.

An additional safety feature incorporated into the remote is the emergency stop button. When activated this will shut down the engine and stop all operations. The joystick on the remote sends varying amounts of signal depending on how far the operator moves the joystick. This varying signal is sent to a hydraulic control valve which varies the amount of oil flow to the cylinders and therefore their speed. This allows the cranes to be moved slowly which reduces the amount the container swings. There is less chance of the container over-shooting and ending up in a dangerous position.

This way of operating a Sidelifter with safe and speedy precision was developed by the engineering team at Steelbro. They found a way of achieving smoother, more stable container loading and unloading that would give more refined speed control, allow for higher speeds, and reduce stress fatigue on the crane arms. This is known as ‘Proportional Control’.

According to Brown, “Using ‘Proportional Control’, loading of a container onto a Sidelifter is possible in less than five minutes. The Steelbro design and Danfoss proportional controls built into each system provide for smooth control of the container load at all times, ensuring maximum safety and product reliability. The Steelbro Sidelifter can be used to place a shipping container with precision anywhere a truck can access. Containers are handled with fine movements and with varying amounts of speed and can be positioned accurately, quickly, easily and safely, irrespective of weight.”

The Steelbro SB450 model used in Malaysia has proportional control valves supplied by internationally recognised Danish engineering company, Danfoss. These proportional control valves are chosen for their superb handling characteristics, proven safety attributes and smooth proportional control. The Danfoss proportional control valves give the operator full proportional control of the machine and allows the operator to move their load quickly when required or very slowly to position the load precisely.

Brown comments “Other Sidelifters often use a push button system which can give a stop/start experience instead of the smooth operation that comes when using a joystick. This sends an on or off signal to the hydraulic valve. These ‘full on’ or ‘full off’ alternative solutions can provide jerky, erratic and uncontrolled movements. This can put undue strain on the equipment, can cause damage to the load and be an unsafe option. The container movement can be less predictable e.g. stopping suddenly causing the container to swing.”

Another innovation coming out of the Steelbro design department is SMARTweight. This is an additional module that can be added to analogue controlled Sidelifters. Andy Ersalle, Steelbro Regional Manager SE. Asia said that this technology is being introduced into Malaysia as a response to customer requests.

SMARTweight is a new bolt on module for analogue control SB450 Sidelifters which provides the ability to weigh containers. The container weight is displayed on the built-in colour LCD screen and can be printed (printer optional extra). The weight is taken as part of a normal lift saving time and money as no additional equipment is needed.

Included in the product is the module, sensors, wiring kit and optional printer. The module can be ordered as an option for new units or as a kit to be retrofitted to an existing Sidelifter.

Providing customers with the latest design and technology options has been cited as one of the keys to Steelbro’s success in the Malaysian market.

First published in Asian Trucker Issue 61

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