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Identical functional design, greater performance

Smart custom-made crane to improve safety and reliability
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3 minutes

Aluminium producer Aleris recently replaced its 40-year old coil manipulator crane in its workshop in Duffel, Belgium. For ergonomic and practical reasons, they decided the new crane should have identical functional dimensions, but with modern frequency control and state-of-the-art features. “You need a smart crane builder for this kind of work,” says Aleris Duffel Crane Maintenance Manager Eddy Vluymans.

The facility in Duffel is one of the largest rolling mills in Europe, producing rolled products from aluminium and special alloys. It features a continuous 148-inch hot rolling mill and three cold rolling mills. Aleris products are widely used in the automotive and aircraft industries as well as in the construction business.


Signs of wear

Last year, Aleris Duffel replaced its 40-year old coil manipulator crane, equipment which needed to operate nearly 24/7 to store and withdraw coils in accordance with customer production demands. “The old crane was showing signs of severe wear, including some fatigue crack initiations,” says Eddy Vluymans. “The crane became increasingly unreliable. Mechanical and electrical components failed occasionally, leading to unplanned outages and even safety issues.”

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The new crane is a near-replica of the old one, but equipped with modern frequency control and a standard Demag hoist.

The smart design allowed TCS to economise on material costs, making for the most favourable solution

A near-replica to avoid reorganisation costs

Rather than ordering a standard coil manipulator crane, Aleris decided to order a custom-made near-replica. “That was the smartest option for us,” Vluymans says. “The crane was perfectly integrated into the flow of activities at our workshop. Any standard coil crane would have been very different and would have forced us to reorganise our activities, leading to additional costs. So, we wanted the new crane to have compatible dimensions and exactly the same coil carrying bolt and control cabin geometry. There would be the additional advantage that the old crane could be set aside as a spare.”


Extra features and a smaller dead load

“Of course, the crane needed to be equipped with modern frequency control to enable a smoother motion,” Vluymans adds. “And most importantly, the new crane’s own weight could not be allowed to exceed that of the old one, as the supporting structure was not strong enough to carry a higher load.”

The latter requirement proved crucial in granting the commission to TCS. “They managed to design a crane with a significantly smaller dead load than our old crane,” Vluymans confirms. “They also proposed to substitute the open winch by a standard Demag hoist. Their smart design allowed them to economise on material costs, so they definitely offered the most favourable solution. In addition, they worked very efficiently. Installation was done in one week, without us needing to interrupt activities.”


  • 30,88 m double-girder overhead travelling crane for manipulating coils up to 1 tonnes.
  • Main hoisting mechanism on main trolley includes a driver’s cabin and a hoisting yoke moving up and down a vertical guiding beam. The mechanism can rotate around a vertical axis.

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  • 0.8 - 8 m/min. variable hoisting speed, 4 - 20 m/min. variable traversing speed, 1 rpm rotating speed.
  • Auxiliary hoist on separate trolley under one of the girders.
  • 12 - 60 m/min. variable crane travelling speed.

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