Cranes are an essential part of transporting materials in construction sites. However, these cranes that require an operator to sit so far above ground pose a safety hazard and additional cost. Automated cranes which rarely require an operator or only require one to control from a remote location will reduce the safety hazards and labor costs. These operators can then operate more sensitive and resource-intensive tasks which require human control.
This project creates a platform and the hardware needed which will allow further experiments on crane control systems to increase safety and decrease labor usage. The software for the automated crane can be easily modified using the Arduino IDE to test different automation configurations and methods.
Up to this point, this crane can automatically, without any human intervention, move its arm to the search area and lower the electromagnet close to the ground. It will then systematically move the arm and thus the electromagnet to find the object placed in the search area. Once the object has been picked up and detected, the electromagnet will be lifted, and then the object dropped into the drop area. This cycle will then loop again without any human intervention. However, further, development is needed as discussed later in the Future Outlook section.
Different types of motors used
Relays as Electromagnet
Sourcing an electromagnet was one of the difficulties early on this project as suitable strong electromagnets had a high price tag attached on them and budget versions either had no practical way to be mounted nor induced a strong enough magnetic field to pick objects up. Thus an alternative method is used instead.
Relays are mechanisms which uses electromagnets driven with lower currents to attract and switch a circuit which can let much higher currents through. In fact, the higher powered “electromagnet” in this crane is switched using another relay which is controlled using the low-powered Arduino!
Since sourcing a large relay, which in this case is a car horn relay, is much easier than sourcing a strong electromagnet. A large relay was taken apart and had it’s switching mechanisms and other accompanying parts taken apart leaving only the electromagnet behind to be used to pick up the objects in this crane.
This project is mostly created as a basis and platform for further experimentation and extensions. This project provides the hardware portion needed for further experiments which will involve more programmatic and software implementation. This demonstration is a display of what this crane can do using basic and simple software integration. In future experimentations and better software integration, it is planned that this crane will be able to fully stabilize the object the crane is carrying by determining the swing of the object and compensating this swing through the rotational and linear movements that the crane can do while it is moving the object. When implemented, this system will allow the object to be transported smoothly even if the object swings due to large winds or other external forces. This will significantly improve the safety hazards of a crane as current crane technology doesn’t account of this swing and can injure operators or damage other equipment around the area. There have even been incidents where object swing has caused the crane to be damaged and even have the object fall off the crane (Runyon).
In addition to the benefits to cranes, if this swing compensation concept is then applied to other fields, safety concerns and even comfort can be significantly improved. As an example, if this concept is applied towards vehicle transportation, compensating of bumps in the road and other road anomalies, smoother rides can be achieved. If this concept is somehow applied to aerial transportation, turbulence can be avoided using two separate parts of the plane where one is turbulent, and the other is smooth. Many applications can be used for this development.
To achieve this goal of swing compensation on the crane, this crane will be used and improved on in the next year of the Applied Science Academy program where we will be able to continue working on and improving on the software integration of this crane.
In this work, Bryan is determined to create and provide a safer work in transporting materials in construction site through an automated crane control systems.
Automated Crane with Swing Self-Compensation