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Brains for Cranes: GE Tech Gives Lift to Giant Shipyard Cranes

The Goliath gantry crane at China’s Dalian shipyard is so large that the old Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands would fit snugly within its 4,000-ton frame. But unlike its biblical namesake, this behemoth, which is 650 feet wide and 320 feet high, is no pushover.

The crane’s two trolleys riding along the cross beam, or gantry, will soon start using a laser-guided “anti-collision” system developed by GE Power Conversion. The system will allow Dalian to precisely monitor the trolleys’ position, let them scoot along the gantry simultaneously, and improve crane efficiency. Advanced GE electrical drives inside the trolleys will convert gravitational energy into electricity when lowering heavy loads and feed it back into the system. Sophisticated power management technology will distribute the power to motors and gears lifting loads to save electricity. “Few people know that GE builds brains for big cranes,” says Lutz Steinhaus, global sales and engineering application leader at GE Power Conversion.

Need a Lift?: “Few people know that GE builds brains for big cranes,” says GE Power Conversion’s Lutz Steinhaus

Dalian will be using the crane to build next generation LNG tankers and container vessels. “Working together with GE helps us continually push the boundaries of shipbuilding,” says Gao Guo Chun, project manager at Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Equipment Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Steinhaus says that the innovative drives can regenerate 80 percent of the energy required to lower a load and make it available for lifting. “We’ve developed an energy balancing system that allows the operator to use as little power as possible,” he says. “One trolley lowering a load can provide power to the other.”

GE engineers also built in an active energy management system that allows the operator to keep track of all the crane’s functions and data through simplified status, diagnostics and fault detection.

Similar GE systems are already powering 20 other cranes around the world, including three at Dalian.

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