Taking tower cranes to new heights of performance and safety

Recom Moritsch, a pioneering manufacturer of luffing jib tower cranes, has worked with ABB to develop a new automation system for its second-generation towers.

Luffing jib tower cranes are now a common feature of the urban skyline in fast-growing cities across the world. Their ‘luffing’ action makes the jib angle adjustable from horizontal to near vertical to provide a variable working radius. This offers the maneuverability essential to handle the prefabricated, modular components that are in widespread use for the construction of skyscrapers. Most importantly, luffing jib tower cranes can operate in the narrow, congested spaces available in city centers without interfering with the working area of other cranes on site. They also avoid the risk of ‘over-flying’ that can happen when a tall crane swings a load into the airspace above existing buildings.

One of the masters of luffing jib technology is Recom Moritsch, based in Belluno, Italy. For 50 years, its tower cranes have delivered reliable and accurate operation in tight spaces. That’s why Recom cranes have featured in skyscraper projects all over the world and most notably in London. They were  used in the construction of Canary Wharf, which is now one of the main financial centers of the UK, as well as the Leadenhall building and the 95-storey Shard, the tallest building in the European Union at 310 meters.

In 2015, Recom decided to develop a second-generation design to meet the challenges of maintaining  safety and reliability as construction projects start to reach ‘mega-heights’, edging ever closer to 1,000 meters. A critical aspect of the development program was the complete redesign of the automation systems that control the crane’s electric motors and winches. That is when ABB was called in to help.

“We were looking for more than just a supplier. We were seeking a partner that would work with us to find the best solution for our cranes to guarantee greater performance and safety while also being cost-effective,”
said Mariano Moritsch, chief executive officer (CEO) of Recom Moritsch.

“It was clear that ABB could provide the availability and flexibility we needed. Another important factor was ABB’s extensive global service network, with numerous locations ready to provide support and to collaborate on product development.

Recom Moritsch

Recom Moritsch, based in Belluno Italy, is an acknowledged manufacturer of high quality luffing jib tower cranes.

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ABB proposed an automation package comprising an AC500-S safety PLC and an ACS880 industrial variable speed drive (VSD). One of the key features of the drive is a plug-in FSO safety functions module that provides a variety of drive-based safety functions developed to work seamlessly alongside the drive control system.

“From the very start, ABB’s technicians made every effort to understand our market needs in terms of safety and technological innovations. A vital factor was the absolute guarantee that the PLCs and the VSD would communicate flawlessly with one another.  And the PLC uses a programming language that our technicians were already familiar with. It was also critical that we could have confidence that ABB’s equipment will be available and supported throughout the 20-year lifecycle of our cranes,” said Moritsch.

The removable memory card on the ACS880 drive plays a key role in helping to ensure the availability of Recom’s cranes. Because cranes operate in extremely harsh conditions with variable power supplies there are times when a drive will fail and need replacing. In the past, Recom would either have to send the failed drive back for refurbishment or ask the ABB factory to supply a new drive configured with the crane application. Now, because the application software is stored on the memory card, Recom can simply purchase a new drive from a local dealer and swap over the memory card from the failed unit to get back to work immediately.

According to Moritsch, the partnership with ABB has helped refine the way that the drive works with the crane motors: “We need to manage the operation of our crane motors so that they work efficiently and with a high degree of precision. The ABB drive guarantees very refined control even on the customized motors that we build for our cranes. The drive has been fine-tuned over a number of stages, with ABB technicians demonstrating in detail how all our scenarios can be resolved. They even assisted us in the testing phase at our motor manufacturer, verifying that our calculations effectively match the actual motor operation.”

Recom’s partnership with ABB is continuing to develop new approaches to crane automation. For example, in current cranes the rotation of the crane tower is controlled by direct current (DC) motors. However, the market is demanding a switch to alternating current (AC) motors and ABB and Recom are working on a specific solution based on the ACS880 drive.

Mariano Moritsch, chief executive officer (CEO) of Recom Moritsch.



Recom Moritsch

Location Belluno, Italy
Industry Cranes
ABB deliveries AC500-S safety PLCs and ACS880 variable speed drives with a plug-in FSO safety functions module
Keys to success Meeting the stringent demand for crane performance and safety. Flawless communication between the PLC and the VSD. Extensive global support throughout the lifecycle of the cranes
Results  Recom tower cranes work efficiently with a high degree of precision

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