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Why choose a Konecranes RailQ™ Runway Survey

Wayne Kennedy
Product Manager, Consultation Services

The condition of the runway influences how well a crane moves on its rails, and affects the usability and lifetime of the crane and its travelling machineries. A runway in poor condition leads to reduced crane performance and reliability, and possibly to safety risks. To avoid this outcome, crane operators must have their runway surveyed to get an accurate picture of deficiencies, so that they can be corrected.

Before the advent of robotics, a runway survey required a human to walk the rails and take measurements manually, a process that could take two days or more for a 500-foot runway. With new robotic tools, that same process may take only four hours today. But all robotic systems are not created equal. Due to a number of market variables, some systems deliver more accurate results, better reporting and more options for customers to consider.

Konecranes RailQ is the safest, fastest and most accurate runway survey available. RailQ performs a runway survey using a high-precision total station to collect data on runway condition. To accomplish this, a prism is placed at intervals along the runway, and a total station equipped with a laser Electronic Distance Measurement is shot to the prism to collect data. Roborail, our proprietary remote-controlled robot trolley, provides the safest and most accurate method for moving the prism along the runway. After the measurement data is collected, Konecranes award-winning KC Trail software provides easy-to-read reports with 2D and 3D pictures of the crane’s runway alignment condition. The software also has a 3D viewer that can be provided to the customer. In the program, Konecranes can identify the rails, the columns and each individual measurement point and compare the data to CMAA, ISO or other governing criteria to provide an overall snapshot of runway condition. It can also be customized to report on specific criteria driven by the customer. 
KC Trail will generate a report and can give a recommended correction of the rail at the press of a button. The software will find the best solution requiring the least amount of correctional movements, saving the customer time and money. A customer may choose to align his rails to attain the minimum correction needed to be within specification or he may choose the optimum solution. Because of KC Trail’s versatility, he can also choose to implement a correction somewhere between minimum and optimal to accommodate available budget or other factors.

KC Trail also has the capability to report on runways where it is not possible to see both rails from a given location, such as gantry cranes where product might occupy the bay or ground between the runway rails. When fatigue of the runway girders is a possibility, KC Trail can measure that fatigue by reporting on the elevation deviances along the rail and between the columns.
Additional Visual Inspection
In addition to the data generated by the Roborail inspection, Konecranes Runway Visual Inspection covers safety issues such as fastening and joints of rails. The wear condition of rails, welding seams in the beam, and bolted joints are also checked in the visual inspection. In addition, the condition of the support pillars or the hall walls are assessed visually. If there is any evidence that there are defects in the runway support structures, a more thorough inspection and possibly also a fatigue analysis are recommended. This visual inspection should always be performed when a runway measurement is made.

Tools and Methods
Konecranes has invested in an equipment package for runway inspection that has proven to be the most reliable and capable available to deliver highly accurate results for our customers worldwide. For customers in North and South America, Konecranes has purchased 33 complete sets of equipment to perform runway services. This includes three sets in Canada, six sets in Latin America and 24 sets across the United States – all strategically located to bring customers the best possible services when and where they are needed. Over 120 Konecranes specialists have been trained to perform RailQ surveys.

Each RailQ equipment set includes the following:

Trimble 1” Total Station – This equipment is capable of measuring up to 3,000 meters (9,800’) in the prism mode. Its 1” (second) level of accuracy ensures that Konecranes employs the highest quality equipment along with the best methods to deliver the most accurate reports. We limit our distance under our normal surveys to 200 meters in one direction (400 meters if mounted in the middle) to maintain <1mm error with an angular accuracy of .3mgon. If longer surveys are needed, no problem, the range can be extended beyond 4,000 feet by adding additional Total Station set-ups. This enables Konecranes to maintain its advertised .3mgon angular accuracy as well as the 1mm Electronic Distance Measurement accuracy throughout the survey.

TSC2 or TSC3 Data collector – Collects the measurement data, including: ambient temperature, barometric pressure, point name, code for runway identification, rail number, prism identification, prism offset values, prism height, the total station setup values, the backsight values and the horizontal and vertical angles. These values are all measured in gons, while the Electronic Distance Measurement in expressed in meters.

Roborail – Roborail is Konecranes proprietary remote-driven prism trolley. This robot is controlled by a laptop computer and can be driven to any selected distance required. The encoder allows it to be precise in its placement. The robot is initially set up at the centerline of the runway rail.

In other systems that involve setting the prism by hand on the rail instead of on the robot, the prism would need to be vertically or horizontally perpendicular to the rail to maintain an accurate result of each measured point. In contrast, Roborail is equipped with an inclinometer that measures the angular values of the x and y-axis, which allows Konecranes to make a correction. While the robot maintains a very good balance on the rail head, the inclinometer performs two functions. First and foremost is safety. If the robot tilts greater than 5 degrees, the robot will shut down as the condition of the rail is too bad for it to continue running in that specific location. This is a very uncommon occurrence, as the visual inspection Konecranes performs will normally capture these areas of concern. The second function the inclinometer delivers is reporting the amount of tilt from a perfect angle. Roborail’s prism rides 150mm above the rail head and the robot communicates to the laptop the amount of angle that is recorded at each data collection location. The KC Trail software then maps out the correction, giving the most accurate result possible and placing the prism measurement mathematically back to the center point.

Because Roborail is a smart trolley for the prism, walking the runway rail is no longer necessary during the measurement phase of a runway survey. This makes the process of taking runway measurements safer, faster and more accurate. Roborail has or can be equipped with a camera system when challenging jobs require capturing pictures or videos. Normally pictures are taken when allowed during the visual inspection phase.

Multi Trak Prism – Konecranes proprietary robot is equipped with a Multi Trak prism that enables the Total Station to track and record measurements at distances and in lighting conditions that can be challenging. Other prisms can be substituted when necessary.

Manual placement of a prism on a runway rail head requires that the prism be conveyed to each point that a measurement is to be taken at normal intervals of 10’ and no greater than 20’. This was traditionally done by walking the runway rail with proper personal protective equipment, or by using a mobile man lift to get to each inspection point. This approach requires extreme caution. Today, a robot should be considered first and foremost as the preferred method of capturing runway data.

To solve problems like these, Konecranes can offer RailQ, CraneQ and specialized Prescription wheels. Symptoms for runway rail-related issues, and crane wheel issues are very similar. Konecranes RailQ and CraneQ technology are the complete solution to best evaluate the entire system. CraneQ reports on the span of each wheel set, including cross-diagonal measurements, wheel sequence, and the horizontal and vertical axis of each wheel for alignment purposes.


For additional information about RailQ™, CraneQ™  and other Konecranes service technologies, please contact Wayne Kennedy, consultation services product manager for Konecranes Region Americas:
[email protected]



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