Our Purpose in Motion

Discover our Purpose in Motion with examples of how Columbus McKinnon products and solutions are moving the world forward and improving lives.

To help improve maintenance efficiency and reduce the time trains are out of commission for service and repairs, a lifting system and equipment from Pfaff-Silberblau are in use at the new Santa Anna depot of the Metro Lima in Peru. Metro Lima is the only urban means of transport in Peru that does not contribute to air pollution as it uses electrical energy from hydroelectric power stations. The Northern section of the line opened in 2014 and includes 26 stations spanning 21.5 miles (34.6 km). Working together with an Italian contractor specializing in rail transport, Pfaff products, including an underfloor lifting system, bogie lifting stands, axle lifting systems (underfloor), mobile lifting jacks, manual turntables, lifting and turning equipment for bogie frames, auxiliary bogies, and transport devices in large quantities are used to service the rapid transit system’s large trains. The new underfloor lifting system from Pfaff is designed for heavy trains up to 309 tons (280 metric tonnes) with up to seven cars (carriages) and a total length of 394 ft (120 m). The wheel lifting platforms used in this system can be synchronized over the entire length of the train with only millimeters of deviation. Twelve auxiliary bogies ensure that the underfloor lifting system is not blocked for long by a lifted rail car, so the next car can be maintained, increasing efficiency and reducing train downtime. Several manual turntables have also been installed in the depot to move bogies between areas in the station. Maintenance and repair work on the bogies is carried out with Pfaff’s underfloor bogie lifting stands that bring the bogies into the best ergonomic position for the maintenance crews, increasing safety.

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Global efforts to improve vehicle emissions continue to drive innovation in the transportation industry. One of these new technologies is hydrogen vehicles, a clean alternative to combustion engines. In the fuel cell of these vehicles, electric current is generated from hydrogen by reversing electrolysis. Hydrogen reacts with oxygen to form water, thereby generating energy. By harnessing hydrogen power, there are fewer emissions and fossil fuels released into the atmosphere. BF Engineering, a leader in producing and installing solar simulation systems worldwide has trusted the quality of Pfaff-silberblau products for many years. For this challenging application that involves highly volatile hydrogen gas, BF Engineering turned to Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products for its Pfaff-silberblau brand BETA-EL4 series wire rope winches and associated wire rope pulley blocks. With these products, BF Engineering can enable flexible solar simulation using height-adjustable irradiation of hydrogen-powered car or truck prototypes in a climate chamber. Pfaff’s specially approved, high-quality components are necessary for this application, as the technical lighting systems of the facility require special safety measures due to their high irradiance, large irradiation surface, and the number of water-cooled lamps. Plus, these winches can be used in a wide range of temperatures and allow for an easy and versatile height adjustment for the different vehicle sizes, including cars and trucks.

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Kennedy Space Center, one of 10 NASA field centers, is a premier multi-user spaceport located in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Kennedy is not only NASA’s main launch site but also home to facilities that research and develop innovative solutions for government and commercial space ventures. To safely and efficiently service NASA’s fleet of space shuttle orbiters, Duff-Norton 5-ton rotating ball screw actuators are used to position the maintenance platforms in the facility. These ball screw jacks are designed to provide high efficiency and speed in one package. They also provide longer life and require less power to operate than other screw jacks. And they can be used in tandem for more complex positioning applications. Thanks to Duff-Norton technology, maintenance techs can work on the shuttles more efficiently and safely.

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As the global marketplace aims for a more sustainable and cleaner environment, electric vehicles and trucks are increasing in popularity to reduce crude oil emissions in the transportation of people and goods. A major diesel truck manufacturer was facing a nearly impossible task of installing heavy batteries on the underside of the trucks as they moved down the facility’s brand-new assembly line configuration. Columbus McKinnon products helped solve the issue. A specialized automated, top-running, double-girder crane was designed, including four Yale® YK™ wire rope hoists that communicated with each other, to install batteries on the underside of the truck chassis. An additional YK monorail hoist is used to supply the batteries to the automated crane, and a YK crane kit is used as a backup crane on standby for engine installation to reduce any downtime. An automation and control system utilizing Magnetek® brand solutions was added to an assembly line process to improve safety, productivity, and uptime. Software that is integrated into these solutions links with the assembly line to coordinate motion. IMPULSE®•VG+ Series 4 drives, collision avoidance technology, and barcode scanner work together along the crane runway to ensure smooth operation, including to help prevent collisions. This specially designed solution safely and efficiently supports the production of these electric trucks, which will ultimately help reduce crude oil emissions in the environment with a cleaner and more sustainable transportation method.

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In preparation for the 2008 summer Olympics, an international architectural competition was conducted to create the National Aquatics Center, resulting in the “Water Cube” design. The Water Cube was built and designed to include symbolic elements of Chinese culture and meet the event’s goal of a fully “green” Olympic games with net-zero growth in total carbon emissions. During the games, industry-leading CM® Entertainment hoists and rigging products supported the traveling camera rail system used to record the event to give at-home viewers stunning angles and seamless movement as athletes competed in the pool. The Water Cube continues to be used today by the public as a water park and entertainment facility. It was even converted to the “Ice Cube,” serving as the curling rink for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

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The Hoover Dam Power Plant is one of the U.S.’s largest hydroelectric installations, generating on average 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year for the 1.3 million people of Arizona, Nevada, and California. Columbus McKinnon, in partnership with Precision Crane & Hoist Services of Nevada, assisted with modernizing the cranes used in the Hoover Dam Power Plant wings in Arizona and Nevada. Within the power plant are four 300-ton cranes used to move and maintain the 17 main vertical hydraulic turbines. Technologically advanced Magnetek® IMPULSE®•VG+ and G+ Variable Frequency Drives and XLTX radio remote controls were retrofitted on each of the cranes, improving productivity, safety, and reliability. To further the modernization, crane-to-crane communication was provided for PLC-assisted synchronized motion control on hoists, trolleys, and bridges.

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Every year, more than 4.3 million prescriptions are filled in the U.S. alone, each requiring consistent efficiency and accuracy before reaching the consumer. Columbus McKinnon’s Dorner-brand conveyors play a critical role in this process, helping get medicines and medical equipment to patients faster while ensuring better quality control. Here’s how. A customer wanted to automate and improve the efficiency of a critical prescription fulfillment system. Dorner provided a FlexMove conveyor system to meet their need. These compact, flexible plastic chain conveyors are specially engineered to handle complex configurations. And FlexMove’s T-slot allows for add-on automation components like RFID readers, bar code scanners, and various routing devices that enable the system to perform at the highest throughput. Using this intelligent system, the customer can provide medicine and medical equipment, such as thermometers, glucose testers, and blood pressure cuffs, to patients more effectively, thanks to the increased scalability and flexibility the system provides.

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Each year, thousands of people ride the scenic Nebelhornbahn Cable Railway in Oberstdorf, Germany. The Nebelhornbahn allows visitors to reach the 2224-meter mountain much faster and more comfortably than on foot. Since its maiden voyage in the Alps in June 1930, it continues to be one of the world's longest, most iconic passenger railways. In 2019, a project began to modernize the Nebelhornbahn to improve the passenger experience with impressive views and reduced wait times. As part of this project, the team needed a solution to service the railway cars, which travel more than 1,400 meters (4,600 ft.) numerous times each day. To do this, four cranes were installed to service the railway cars at different stations. Each crane had to be specially designed to the application's unique and challenging needs. STAHL CraneSystems chain hoists were chosen for the job for the durability, reliability, and performance they provide. Now, these railway cars can be regularly and efficiently serviced to ensure safe transport day after day.

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E-Commerce was a growing market pre-pandemic and has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic as businesses pivoted to online sales. As a result, companies in this industry are always looking for ways to automate and drive efficiency – and that’s where Columbus McKinnon helped provide value. A major e-commerce company wanted to optimize its fulfillment process. Over the course of a year, Dorner worked with the customer to conduct joint research and development to determine the best solution to meet their needs. The result was a custom conveyor optimized to work on mobile robots in the packaging/parcel handling environment. With this solution, the customer improved the efficiency, accuracy, and speed of the company’s global fulfillment process and is now rolling out this technology to all of their facilities worldwide.

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St. Mary’s Cathedral, built between 1889 and 1893, is a neo-Romanesque, three-aisled, galleried basilica made of brick located in Hamburg's St. Georg district. It is considered the center for Catholics in northern Germany and is the first new Catholic church built in Hamburg since the Reformation in the 16th century. However, due to its age, several structural and technical upgrades have been done to modernize and reinforce safety in the building, one of which was modernizing the chandeliers. To clean and maintain the church’s massive chandeliers, hand-wound winches had been historically used. To improve the safety and efficiency for the maintenance workers, 19 Pfaff-silberblau THETA electric wire rope winches from Columbus McKinnon were installed. These were chosen because they can be easily operated with a normal power supply voltage and are specially designed for static suspension above people and for historic buildings and their lighting technology. The winches enable electric movement of the chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, which facilitates the maintenance and cleaning of the lights. Automating the movement is a modern, ergonomic solution that saves time and provides permanent increased safety for the load. Not only is this a cost-efficient solution for the historical church, but by moving the lights from the ceiling to the nave level for maintenance, the maintenance operators performing the tasks also experience increased safety in their day-to-day tasks. This project was overseen by BLH Bühnen- & Lichttechnik Hamburg GbR, a general service provider for media and event technology, and Fuhrmann Bühnentechnik out of Elmshorn supported BLH during installation.

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It’s often said that good things come in small packages. However, when it comes to dredge cranes — size matters — a lot. In 2013, Canada-based TDC Cranes Ltd. constructed the first AC diesel-electric powered dredge crane in North America using Columbus McKinnon’s Magnetek® technology. Lightyears ahead from both a technological and environmental standpoint, this dredge crane was designed to run 24/7/365 to maintain highly traveled maritime shipping routes and harbors. It was the first of its kind in North America and continues to be the largest dredge crane in operation in the region. Used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the dredge needed to be constructed using all North American sourced components. This crane also had to be powerful enough to handle a massive, 60-yard clamshell bucket and be powered by an environmentally friendly diesel-electric system. Magnetek products were specified for the job, including industry-leading motor controls and panels, inverter duty motors, braking units, and custom software to deliver the precision and accuracy needed to ensure a high production rate. Magnetek also provided state-of-the-art bucket software solutions to provide enhanced performance and safety. Thanks, in part, to Magnetek technology, this dredge continues to operate, ensuring unobstructed passage of cargo vessels.

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The upper Rhine River in Switzerland is not only a critical shipping waterway but is also a major source of hydroelectric power in Europe. Along its route are rapids and Europe’s largest waterfall, the Rhine Falls, which help generate environmentally friendly energy at 12 hydroelectric power stations along the river. To help shipping vessels cross the power stations’ tidal barrages, boat transfer systems are in place. At one of the river’s largest power stations, Ryburg-Schwörstadt, a rope winch was used to transfer boats, but there was a need for a more efficient system. The redesigned system now includes two crane systems with hoisting technology from STAHL CraneSystems®, including an ST 50 chain hoist and two stationary SH 40 wire rope hoists that can be used individually or in tandem. Today, boats up to 15 m long, 2.20 m wide, and with a total weight of 2,000 kg can be transported with the new transfer system safely and efficiently to ensure smooth shipping traffic.

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France’s Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) is the fastest and one of the most modern high-speed trains in the world, designed to travel up to 200 mph while minimizing emissions to protect the environment. As a result, the TGV train has become one of the most popular ways to travel across France for its time efficiency and comfortable traveling experience. In fact, two-thirds of France’s traffic volume is done by the TGV, while only one-third is by airplane. Therefore, it is a critical task to keep the TGV functioning to allow for seamless travel across the county. To ensure safe and efficient maintenance, a Pfaff-silberblau 28 x 20-ton lifting system is used to lift the entire 650 ft. train at once. The reliability, safety, and precision lifting the Pfaff system can provide made this the ideal choice for this challenging application. By lifting the entire train at once, maintenance work can be carried out in the best possible health and safety conditions for the maintenance operator and the environment. With the help of Pfaff-silberblau, the TGV stays in working order, moving passengers across the country each day.

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With a history spanning more than 145 years, Columbus McKinnon has continuously evolved with innovative technology, products and brands to create intelligent lifting and motion control technology solutions. Check out the latest from Columbus McKinnon.

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