AFE Crane installs custom hoist and crane system

By Hannah Sundermeyer18 March 2021

AFE has installed a hoist and crane system comprised of over 1,000 feet of monorail track and 20 custom hoists.

Cedar Falls, IA-based AFE Crane has installed a custom hoist and crane system comprised of over 1,000 feet of monorail track and 20 custom hoists in the manufacturing facility of an outdoor lighting manufacturer.

The installation includes 20 custom, wire rope, air-operated hoists with double sister hooks.

AFE Crane is a distributor of ACCO Material Handling Solutions, a manufacturer of material handling products and part of The Crosby Group. They were approached with a requirement to move large light stands through an assembly process. The resulting installation included 20 custom, wire rope, air-operated hoists with double sister hooks with the light stand assemblies resting on these sister hooks. Shuttle cranes were the preferred solution due to their smaller footprint and fit with the end-user’s production layout.

Supertrack monorail

Musco Lighting, of Muscatile, IA, wanted to increase production and needed to create another monorail system similar to the one that AFE Crane provided in the 1990s, which had performed well over many years. AFE Crane designed and detailed the monorail, built the shuttle cranes and the hoists. ACCO provided all of the patented track components including monorail, curves, switches, hangers and trolleys. Manufacturing and installation spanned a four-month period.

The installation is 18 foot-high and covers 24,000 square feet within a new 63,000 square foot expansion.

The system installed at Musco consists of 1,240 feet of ACCO Louden monorail Supertrack, integrated with 11 switches and four custom shuttle crane stations. The installation is 18 feet-high and covers 24,000 square feet within a new 63,000 square foot expansion bay that replaces a previous system and expands the manufacturing operation from two production lines to four.

Light stands are the top section of Musco’s light poles. The stands have cross arms that serve as mounts for the light fixtures during final assembly in the field. Musco hangs these stands on the trolley hooks which then go down the line to various work stations. Additional assembly, wiring and factory aiming of the light fixtures takes place at these stations. Sizes vary from 3 feet by 5 feet to 22 feet by 10 foot sections, and they weigh between 50 and 500 pounds.

 “Switches are like a train track switch,” said Rich McInnis, applications engineer, AFE Crane. “If you switch to the left you will take the rail path to the left instead of continuing straight. The shuttle cranes move the hoist trolley and the rail a few feet perpendicular to the monorail so that the hoist trolley is off the main monorail path and the other hoist trolleys can pass on the primary monorail path. The hoist trolley that is shuttled to the side can later be shuttled back onto the main monorail path. Usually a crane hook has just one hook palm for a load to rest on; a sister hook has two hook palms directly across from each other.”

The system consists of 1,240 feet of monorail, which combines with 11 switches and four custom shuttle crane stations.
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