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esearch Question: Are hybrid cranes more efficient, safer, and cheaper to run than the diesel-powered ones that are widely used?

Problem Statement

Moving heavy objects between places can be hectic, especially in the absence of appropriate machinery to perform the operations. Cranes are usually designed to move these objects in the desired direction with ease. Different cranes work efficiently under some working conditions and deliver poorly in others [1]. However, the major challenge facing the use of cranes is their power usage. Using the crane’s power source efficiently becomes a challenge because these machines are meant to do heavy lifting which requires a lot of energy [2]. In addition, this energy consumption contributes to pollution which can be reduced by using other power alternatives. The power alternatives would save a scarce resource and contribute to sustainability. Moreover, accidents occurring during installation/dismantling of tower cranes accounted for 68.4% of all fatal accident [3]. The heavy weight highly contributes to accidents. Therefore, we are considering to design a hybrid crane which will increase the crane’s efficiency, reduce power consumption, reduce weight, and enhance safety measures. Coming up with the solution to this problem will require a multidisciplinary project where chemical, civil and electrical engineers will contribute actively. The team will consider a set of possible solutions and select, among these solutions, the best depending on several factors.

Purpose of the project

This project seeks to design a hybrid crane which will ensure overall efficiency in the crane’s operations. In coming up with the design, we will take into consideration the power efficiency, the mechanical efficiency, cost, and safety among other aspects. The final design will be based on the core principles of the three engineering disciplines.

Research Methodology

First, a secondary research will be conducted to find out the actual efficiency problems associated with the common hydraulic or the fuel-driven cranes. The focus will be directed to the power efficiency of these cranes while in operation. After finding out the power efficiency of the different cranes, several solutions to design a hybrid crane will be tabled and evaluated on the basis of individual factors.

After the evaluation of the given solutions, the best design will be considered and developed. The design must have complied with the basic engineering principles for it to be considered viable. In case the design requires skills from other engineering disciplines, they will be contacted for assistance during the design process.

Suggested solutions

After carrying out detailed research on the project, we came up with two different design models which we considered viable. The first solution involved introducing a mechanism that would generate power from Li-Ion batteries with the ability for power storage while the crane is in operation. Li-ion batteries have an unmatchable combination of high energy and power density, making it the technology of choice for portable electronics, power tools, and hybrid/full electric vehicles [4]. The mechanism includes a power generator whose shaft will be connected to the crane’s drive train. The stored power would then be used to supplement the crane’s primary power source.

The second design requires us to introduce another power source which would be used together with the primary power source. The secondary power source can also be used in case the primary power source failed or became inefficient. Moreover, we will examine using a stability-guaranteed Cartesian free-space motion control for the redundant articulated hydraulic construction crane in order to increase system safety and productivity [5]. This methodology stabilizes hydraulic systems and their nonlinearity to achieve smoother hydraulic operation with higher safety measures.

For this project, we decided that the first design is to be developed and applied. We agreed that the design is the most efficient among the two since it makes use of the available energy, which would have otherwise been wasted, to run the crane. Moreover, both designs involve a reduction in weight to avoid or reduce fatal accidents. However, the design required us to involve other engineering disciplines, such as mechanical engineering, to assist with guidance on the fabrication of the required machine parts. Therefore, the solution to be selected would require further analysis and examination. Lastly, all the benefits and drawbacks of the solutions that are to be discovered during the research and implementation process will be analysed in order to formulate a new solution that would be most applicable.


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