Category: Application Stories

Learn how other are using Columbus McKinnon products in their industries.

Pfaff Rail Systems Help Maintain London Underground Tube Trains

Pfaff Rail Systems Help Maintain London Underground Tube Trains

rail systems
At Ealing Common Depot, a railway service workshop of the London Underground, the tube subway trains used on the District Line will now be maintained with the aid of a lifting system from Pfaff Verkehrstechnik GmbH located in Kissing, Germany. On account of its futuristic design, the maintenance staff has nicknamed the versatile and unique system the “Transformer.”

The dual-purpose system is comprised of a total of 28 stationary hybrid lifting jacks from Pfaff Verkehrstechnik with bogie lifting beams and body supports that raise and hold the trains, which measure up to 384 ft (117 m) long and 4.7 ft (1.44 m) high. This design gives engineers ample and safe access underneath the train when performing service.

Precision and Versatility

rail systemsThe versatility of the lifting system from Pfaff Verkehrstechnik lies with its ability to lift the tube trains as either a complete unit or as individual carriages to infinitely adjustable, ergonomic heights. The 28 jacks can lift up to 308 tons (280 metric tons), and the supports can carry a load of up to 218 tons (196 metric tons). This is a task that requires utmost precision. If a complete train is lifted, the lifting process of the Pfaff-silberblau jacks runs in precise synchronization with a deviation of less than ± 2 mm. The worm gear screw jacks achieve this precision through a series of frequency converters, which also permit different lifting speeds within the system.

Once the vehicle has been lifted, the next set of system components is ready to go into action. The jacks feature additional motor-driven supports for holding up the carriage bodies. This, in turn, makes it possible to lower the individual bogies back down onto the rails and roll them out from underneath the raised vehicle. Large, bright LED lights integrated into the lifting beams ensure illumination of the work area under the raised vehicle.

Once the Pfaff Verkehrstechnik system is lowered, the lifting beams mesh together with the main rail and sit flush with the floor. As soon as the lifting beams go up, they are followed by gap covers, thereby resealing the recesses, which would otherwise remain open, such that they can be stood on.

The lifting system and the work processes are controlled by an easy-to-use touch display, which also enables the maintenance staff to check the status of all major system components at all times.

New and Cost-Efficient Concept

Pfaff Verkehrstechnik’s hybrid lifting jack system is a new concept and will serve as a cost-effective alternative to established underfloor lifting and support systems. It is an excellent value for our customers due in part to the fact that extremely shallow pit depths require significantly less foundation work.

The motion technology for the lifting system from Pfaff Verkehrstechnik GmbH was developed by Pfaff’s sister company also based in Kissing – Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products (CMEP). Working together, they were able to provide a sophisticated system that will meet the ongoing needs of the London Underground.

Summer Concert Series: Where is your CM Hoist?

Summer Concert Series: Where is your CM Hoist?

Who doesn’t love the summer time and seeing a great concert with your favorite band from the past or present? A few of our fans recently shared CM Hoist photos from summer concerts they’ve attended, which included a snapshot of our #CMLodestar motors.

For King and Country, CM Hoist
For King and Country performing at the Carowinds Paladium Ampitheatre in Charlotte, North Carolina.
CMA Music Festival, CM Hoist
CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee (Thank you Mountain Productions!)
CM Lodestar motors in Lisbon, Portugal, CM Hoist
Martin Audio’s MLA rig on world stage at Rock Festival in Lisbon, Portugal. (Thank you Tracy!)

Like us, they love seeing CM Hoist products in action!

We know that many of you have great things planned for this summer, so we are continuing our tradition of starting a 2016 photo album on Facebook to capture your photos of Columbus McKinnon products working hard at concerts and events around the world.

If you spot them being used, please snap a photo and share it with us on social media. We will post your pictures on our Facebook photo album and, each month, our fans (through likes!) will choose a lucky winner who will receive a box of some great CM promotional items!

There are many ways you can share your CM Hoist photos with us – choose your favorite channel!
Twitter: Industrial
Twitter: CM-Entertainment

Use the hashtags #CMLodestar and #wheresyourCM to join the conversation!

We look forward to seeing all of the wonderful concerts and places you will visit this summer!

Yale Lifting Solutions Provides 200-Ton Test Rig for Hook Proof Load Testing

Yale Lifting Solutions Provides 200-Ton Test Rig for Hook Proof Load Testing

Test Rig
200-ton capacity horizontal test rig is used to proof load test humble hooks in the South African gold mining industry.

Yale Lifting Solutions was recently approached by a long-time client in the South African gold mining industry to provide a 200-ton capacity horizontal test rig used to proof load test humble hooks. Humble hooks are safety devices used to connect winder ropes to the main personnel cages and ore conveyances on hoists in vertical mine shafts.

How does the test rig work?

A humble hook is installed in the test rig and the operator sets the testing parameters. The test rig then automatically carries out the test and, upon completion, produces a test certificate containing relevant testing information that can be printed out or saved electronically. Typically, the rig tests each humble hook to 65 tons, but has a maximum testing capacity of 200 tons if needed. Each rig weighs more than 5,500 kg. (12,000 lbs.).

Also, because safety is a critical part of the way Columbus McKinnon does business, each test rig is fitted with a safety cage to prevent possible injury should something fail during the testing process. By use of strategically positioned limit switches working in conjunction with the control program, the test rig will only operate if the cage is closed. Once this test is complete, the humble hooks undergo an ultrasonic test before they are put into storage awaiting installation on the hoist.

In South Africa, it is a legal requirement that a short length of the front end of each winder rope on a mine hoist is cut off on a regular basis. Then, this wire rope sample is submitted to a testing laboratory for destructive testing and inspection, to monitor the residual strength of the rope. It is normal practice to replace the humble hook at the same time that the front end is cut. The humble hook in service is removed and the tested humble hook is installed in its place. To date, this is one of the largest manufacturing projects Yale Lifting Solutions has carried out in its newly formed manufacturing department.

Can Spring Balancers Save Lives? Yes They Can!

Can Spring Balancers Save Lives? Yes They Can!

spring balancers
The CMIP spring balancer was being used to provide support and relief for a horse with a badly injured hoof.

Normally, spring balancers, sold by our Columbus McKinnon’s Industrial Products (CMIP) division in Wuppertal, Germany, are used to relieve operators from the weight of hand tools. By using a tapered rope drum, the weight of the attached load is compensated so that loads up to 200 kg can be moved effortlessly along a vertical axis. Standard applications would include spot-welding guns, riveting machines or multiple-nut runners.

One unique use of CMIP’s spring balancers is a lifesaving application supporting horses.

In November, product management in Wuppertal, Germany, received a rather unusual call; a horse clinic needed immediate replacement of the existing spring balancer used at its facility.

The spring balancer was being used to provide support and relief for a horse with a badly injured hoof. The horse was wearing a sort of harness that was hung into one of our spring balancers with a capacity of 170 kgs. However, the horse had a panic attack and destroyed the supporting structure. Without it, the horse could not stand upright on its own, which would have sealed its fate as muscles and circulation have to be stimulated by regular activity.

After a quick call and a 1.5-hour drive, the clinic manager picked up the new balancer in Wuppertal and returned to the clinic. By that evening the horse was able to stand up again, ultimately saving its life. This proves that you really never know where a CMCO product is being used. 

Do you have a unique CM product application story to share?

CMCO Distributor, REID Lifting, Proudly Sponsors the World’s Fastest Land Speed Record Attempt

CMCO Distributor, REID Lifting, Proudly Sponsors the World’s Fastest Land Speed Record Attempt

Bloodhound Supersonic Car
CMCO distributor, REID Lifting, sponsored the Bloodhound project with the donation of a bespoke gantry lifting system. Photo: Stefan Marjoram

The Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC) is set to become one of the world’s greatest engineering feats, capable of traveling at speeds over 1,000 mph. Started 8 years ago, the Bloodhound project is attempting to smash the current land speed record of 763 mph by Thrust SSC, the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. When complete, the car will be powered by both a jet engine and a rocket to help it achieve super high speeds.

During construction of the Bloodhound Supersonic Car, it came as no surprise that Bloodhound chose to use a REID Lifting PORTA-GANTRY frame from CMCO Channel Partner, Reid Lifting. This tall and innovative gantry lifting system, with an integrated CMCO chain block, has helped Bloodhound carefully construct each element of the car.

Bloodhound Supersonic Car
Bloodhound, a supersonic car designed to go over 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h)

REID engineers also are working closely with Bloodhound to create a 3,000 kg WLL custom lifting solution that will be used for the supersonic car’s first record attempt in South Africa in 2017.  A custom solution is required due to the uneven surface and unique conditions of the Hakskeen Pan, the desert plain where the momentous record attempt will take place.

Bloodhound Supersonic Car
The science behind Bloodhound is now being used in activities in 7,500 schools in the UK.

Taking Science to the Classroom

The science behind Bloodhound is now being used in activities at more than 7,500 schools in the UK.
However, the real driver behind the project is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math). With this in mind, REID Lifting has chosen to not only sponsor the project with the donation of a bespoke gantry lifting system but is also involved in the Bloodhound SSC STEM Ambassador Program.

REID Lifting has sent Design Engineer, Luke Rossiter, and Machinist Apprentice, Tim Battersby, to local schools throughout South Wales and southwest England as official Bloodhound Ambassadors. Both having a strong interest in engineering, they will be sharing their passion for the project to encourage future generations to follow in their footsteps.

Thank you, REID Lifting, and our CMCO UK office for sharing this great story and being a part of such a stellar project.

Magnetek, Inc. Helps Repair Drawbridge Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Magnetek, Inc. Helps Repair Drawbridge Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Corrosion from Hurricane Sandy
The corrosion caused by Hurricane Sandy was evident on the brakes nearly five years after the brakes were submerged in saltwater.
Refurbished Shoe Brakes
Refurbished 300M Mill Duty AC Thruster Shoe Brakes waiting for shipment back to New York City.

Nearly five years after Hurricane Sandy, the second-costliest hurricane in United States history, cities along the eastern seaboard continue to discover – and repair – the damage inflicted on their infrastructure by the Category 3 storm. Recently, Magnetek, Inc. had the opportunity to help mend some of the hurricane’s long-term damage by rebuilding industrial brakes used in the operation of a four-lane drawbridge that spans a busy navigation channel in New York City.

Rainfall totals reached up to 10 inches across the region in 2012, causing a storm surge of nearly 14 feet. The rapid influx of seawater flooded the bridge’s mechanical room, submerging and contaminating critical systems required to control the bascule bridge structure. The introduction of
saltwater accelerated the destructive impact of corrosion on the bridges’ mechanical systems.

Magnetek was called in to repair and refurbish 16 storm-damaged 300M Mill Duty AC Thruster Shoe Brakes used to operate the bridge. While at Magnetek’s facility in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, the brakes were inspected and dismantled before being reassembled with new hardware, shoes and actuators. The rebuilding process returned the brakes to like-new condition, including a new “safety orange” paint job. The service team at Magnetek completed the job in record time in order to restore traffic flow to boats and commuters in the New York City region.

Pfaff-silberblau Provides Specially Designed Lifting System for Flood Protection Gate in Germany

Pfaff-silberblau Provides Specially Designed Lifting System for Flood Protection Gate in Germany

CMCO Sperrwerk Greifswald
Anyone who lives or works along a body of water knows that flooding is always a concern. In the North/Baltic Sea region, the city region of Greifswald and the urban district of Greifswald-Wieck in Germany know this all too well. Due to its exposed location, this region is one of the most vulnerable in the area. So, this summer, the first steps were taken to protect this area from storm surges with the construction of a flood barrier in Griefswald. This barrier utilizes Pfaff-silberblau brand SHE worm gear screw jacks, manufactured by Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products in Germany, to move the sliding gates of the harbor pier into place to protect against flood waters.

The new flood barrier in Greifswald is part of what is currently the largest coastal protection project in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. If a flood warning is issued, the main gate of the flood barrier is locked with the aid of a revolving segment to protect against high tide. At the same time, sliding gates that are approximately 55.7 ft (17 meters) wide and weigh 19.8 tons (18 metric tons) are closed on the south and north pier of the flood barrier. These gates run on railway tracks similar in principle to an oversized sliding door. This is precisely where the worm gear screw jacks from Pfaff-silberblau come in.

In the event of an emergency, and also for maintenance purposes, each sliding gate has to be lifted from its parked position in the sliding gate chambers of the dam. This is done using a rocker with travel wheel to lift the gate up to 5.9 inches (150 millimeters) and then safely lower it onto the rail. The wheel is lifted at a speed of 1.96 inches (0.05 meters) per minute by means of an electromechanical drive unit designed specifically for this application by Pfaff-silberblau.

CMCO Sperrwerk Greifswald
This drive unit consists of a 25 Series worm gear screw jack with a rotating and self-locking trapezoidal screw, special travelling nut, absolute encoder, special grease and a bevel gear box motor with 2 hp (1.5 kW) actuating power. In case of an emergency, the drive unit also features a hand wheel at the motor.

When designing the drive unit, the team also took special care to ensure the harsh conditions of this outdoor maritime application would not affect its functionality. The screw jack has a special flexible protection boot. All other driving elements are made of weatherproof materials and are protected with special high-quality paint. The electrical components are designed in compliance with protection class IP66. Because of these features, the drive solution from Pfaff-silberblau can also withstand outdoor use in temperatures ranging from -4°F to +122°F (-20°C to +50°C.)

This is a great example demonstrating how Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products designs special systems to meet tough and challenging customer applications.

Unified Industries Helps Automotive Manufacturer Solve Assembly Line Challenge

Unified Industries Helps Automotive Manufacturer Solve Assembly Line Challenge

Unified ETA‐8 enclosed track aluminum system
Enclosed Track Aluminum Rail System

To help solve an ergonomic problem they were encountering on their assembly line, a large automotive OEM approached Columbus McKinnon’s Unified Industries and our Channel Partner for assistance.

At the facility, employees working at the customer’s final assembly unload station were having difficulty moving the existing steel trussed overhead crane system – to the point that it even caused operator injury.

To address this issue, Unified and the Channel Partner visited the facility and developed an economical and effective solution. Together, they decided to remove the existing steel trussed rail system and replace it with the Unified ETA8 enclosed track aluminum system. Steel is much heavier than aluminum, so Unified’s aluminum system would make it much easier for the operators to move the crane system.

The team presented two options to the customer, each with difference performance features. The first option was a fully integrated Unified system with articulating end trucks that would allow for the easiest movement for the crane system. The second solution was the same Unified system with rigid end trucks that functioned similarly to the existing system they were currently using but was much lighter.

New Articulating System Reduces Push/Pull Force by 66%
After the demonstration, the customer decided to go with the articulating system due to their application requirements. The entire Unified ETA‐8 rail system was installed over the course of a single weekend –half the time it took to install their existing system. The customer was very impressed with the quick installation, specifically the fact that the Unified product came pre‐assembled unlike competitors’ steel trussed systems that have to be assembled in the field.

To compare the old steel system to the new Unified ETA8 system, the customer performed an internal push/pull test and found that they had reduced the push/pull force by 66%, which was a huge factor in helping to reduce operator injuries and making the system easier to operate. The customer was impressed with every aspect of the Unified ETA8 system, from the start of the project to its completion, and is looking forward to seeing the continued benefits the new rail system will provide.

Learn more about Unified Industries.

Pfaff-silberblau Products Perform in “The Miracle of Bern”

Pfaff-silberblau Products Perform in “The Miracle of Bern”

Photo Courtesy of

Columbus McKinnon recently supplied Pfaff-silberblau brand products for a new musical venue in Hamburg, Germany. Stage Entertainment constructed the ultra-modern performance venue, “Theater an der Elbe,” capable of holding more than 1,800 spectators for the production of “The Miracle of Bern.”

Stage Entertainment commissioned Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products GmbH, based in Kissing, for the design, project planning and construction of the stage upper machinery and the “iron curtain” for the venue.

For the technical fire-protection equipment and the stage upper machinery, the company invested in tried-and-trusted stage technology from Pfaff-silberblau – our powerful DELTA electromechanical wire rope winches. These winches are designed to move the stage scenery and props quickly and precisely, while ensuring a maximum level of safety for the performers on the stage in accordance with the safety regulations for public performance venues BGV C1 and DIN 56950.

For the daily performances of the musical, more than 28 DELTA winches are used. Designed for loads between 650 kg and 1,500 kg, they move stage scenery and props with a speed of 1.2 m/sec and approximately 8 km of wire rope. The winches are anchored in a fly loft, which Pfaff-silberblau designed, produced and installed to meet specific customer requirements. Altogether, Pfaff-silberblau engineers installed a total of 15 tons of structural steelwork for the theatre’s fly loft. This is a great example of Pfaff’s products at work in a tough and challenging application.

Unique Uses for CM Industrial Rigging Equipment

Unique Uses for CM Industrial Rigging Equipment

As a manufacturing and engineering company, Columbus McKinnon places high value in STEM education – education encouraging students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But, in recent years, STEM education has evolved into STEAM education, which aims to connect art to these areas of study to demonstrate how industrial products can contribute to creative artistic pursuits.

A perfect example of STEAM in a real-world application was initiated by our Channel Partner, American Crane. Artist, Janet Echelman, created an aerial art sculpture entitled “Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks” in Vancouver, Canada, that is suspended from the 24-story Fairmont Waterfront Building and the Vancouver Convention Center. Weighing more than 3,500 lbs., the sculpture is made of 145 miles of braided fiber and 860,000 hand/machine made knots.

To keep pedestrians safe as they walked below the sculpture, American Crane relied on CM Master Links and CM Master Rings. Known for their strength and durability, CM rigging products were perfect for this unique application with working loads limits ranging from 10,000 up to 86,000 lbs and a 4:1 design factor.

Without the use of heavy-duty equipment and engineering know how, such an impressive art installation would not have been safe or possible. This is just one unique example of how industrial technology contributes to making the world a more beautiful place.

A big thank you to our Channel Partner, American Crane, for sharing this unique application story with us!