INTERNET OF CRANES

Intelligent control for the remote management of cranes

The company

Fassi Gru is the market leader among the Italian producers of articulated cranes. Its wide range of products and the number of cranes sold is what places it at the top of the list of the world’s manufacturers of hydraulic cranes.

The production potential is around 12,000 cranes per year. The entire range is exported and distributed all over the world for rapid and widespread delivery. From Canada to France, from England to Australia, Fassi’s professionalism aims to meet the different needs of the market, often directly connected to the specific geographical and economic conditions of each individual country.

> 50

Years of business

5

Companies

11

Factories

12.000

Cranes produced per year

Goals

Fassi has always aimed at being a leader in product innovation: that’s why, in 2015, they started research to develop a system which would be capable of providing a service to their end customer, making all the information related to the operation of the crane and its status available in real time.

Having a service logic as point of departure, Fassi wanted the crane operator to become an active part in the process of the technical assistance of the machine. The idea was that the operator should be able to directly request remote assistance or online maintenance service. In addition, Fassi needed a system that could track the position of the truck carrying the crane in real time.

Fassi turned to Micro Systems to create a dedicated Internet of Things system, which, from the very beginning, was named the Internet of Cranes® – IoC technology.

Tools and Methods

An electronic board, dedicated to the Internet of Things system, was designed, which interfaces via CAN with the control unit of the crane.
The electronic board is equipped with a UMTS (3G) module, a GPS to obtain the position in terms of latitude and longitude of the machines, an M2M SIM card for data traffic all over the world, a shock detection sensor via accelerometer and an SD card for storage of firmware updates and for the software update of the crane control unit.
Everything integrated on board, in one single solution.

The data collected by the crane is sent to the cloud via the 3G module and the M2M SIM card.
A web portal dedicated to viewing and managing the data of each individual crane allows the Fassi support centre to intervene and provide support in the event of breakdowns or malfunctions.

The complete IOT solution consists of:

  • Electronic Board IOT Hardware
  • Firmware for the management of the IOT board
  • Sim card for connectivity
  • Database Server cloud
  • WEB Portal

All elements of this System were developed by Micro Systems.

Hardware and firmware

The board control software is able to collect data from the crane control electronics, through the CAN devide XC3 protocol.
The microprocessor concentrates the data in a memory buffer and passes it on to the UMTS modem for wireless transmission to the cloud server.
The connection is created via an internet protocol using the UMTS module.
Real time monitoring can be activated on request which enables the technician to monitor the machine during operation.

M2M Sim card

We selected Eseye as service provider, an operator able to guarantee data traffic all over the world thanks to roaming contracts with the main global mobile telephone operators.
The SIM card is installed directly on the board during the production phase and subsequently activated by the end customer when activating the IoC service.

Process control

A custom web portal was created and integrated with the Fassi customer assistance portal for the spare parts of the mechanical parts of the crane.
The dashboard, which can be accessed by selecting the serial number of the machine, consists of:

TELEMETRY
Display of the different states of inputs and outputs, both digital and analogue, of the various machines.
Monitoring of the correct functioning of the sensors on board the crane. Preliminary diagnosis in case of malfunctions.

GEOLOCATION
Graphic display on a map of the location and the operating status of the crane as well as the route it has followed.
Monitoring of a single crane or of the whole crane fleet through a single and synthetic screen.

STATE OF USE OF CRANE
Alarms and malfunctions are communicated immediately, in addition to data relating to the status of the crane.

BLACK BOX
Display of the Black Box of the crane in spreadsheet form; filtering of the various types of events; data export to Excel. Thanks to this function it is possible to retrieve the history of events related to the operation of the crane.

STATISTICS
Display, both in graphic and spreadsheet form, of information related to the use of the cranes. Analysis of how the cranes are used (eg analysis of the weight supported by the main boom, the secondary boom and the hydraulic system).

PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE
Residual life monitoring, calculated from the use of the crane, and estimate by the number of work cycles completed and their intensity.

FIRMWARE UPDATE
Firmware update to install the latest version of the crane application in real time.

MODIFICATION OF PARAMETERS
Display and modification of crane operating parameters.

There are 4 levels of users, each with different permissions depending on the role: Administrator / Dealer / Sub-dealer / Charterer. Consequently, the software is divided into 4 different levels, with a username and password system.

Results and Developments

Today it is possible for the operator to receive remote assistance in case of problems on the machine or when help is needed to deal with particular working conditions. In this way, the end user is able to obtain more precise control and a more accurate knowledge of their machine.

In fact, Fassi mainly aims to solve critical situations of the crane operation, assisting the final operators remotely.

The main advantages of this system are the quick and simple responses during the assistance phase, an advantage which not only benefits the operators, but also the technicians and managers of the technical assistance service.
The goal was to supply a system that would provide the operator with:

  • Immediate remote resolution of machine malfunctions
  • Location of the crane in case of theft
  • Optimization of vehicle movements
  • Greater efficiency of the crane
  • Scheduled maintenance
  • Usage statistics
  • Improvement of crane performance over time
  • Automatic software updates.

Fassi has evolved their product towards a service-oriented logic that aims at a more active involvement of the crane operator during the support phase for his machine. It is the operator who evaluates the need to use this system and confirms the acceptance of the remote assistance / maintenance proposal.