Plan online without CAD

21 March 2017

A1A Software developed 3D Lift Plan in collaboration with Link-Belt in 2007. Tawnia Weiss, president of A1A Software, tells Sotiris Kanaris that both companies wanted a program that was online and 3D. It is now available for use with a full range of cranes from different manufacturers, and has been adapted for use on iOS and Android devices.

A1A Software president Tawnia Weiss, who previously worked at Compu-Crane, identified a need in the market for an easy-to-use program that was not based on a computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting system.

When it was launched at ConExpo 2008, 3D Lift Plan featured just a handful of Link-Belt cranes. Over the past decade, its crane database expanded to 2,500 models, including load charts for at least 60% of all crane brands ever manufactured. Manitowoc and Tadano Mantis have joined Link- Belt as site sponsors.

According to Weiss, when these three OEMs launch a new model, they provide the information to 3D Lift Plan directly. For cranes from other manufacturers, data is collected either through direct communication with them or their customers.

“A common mistake crane users make when planning lifts is to use load-chart data provided on the sales brochures rather than the full in-cab charts. All load-chart data in 3D Lift Plan is based on the crane OEM’s full in-cab charts, which, on some all-terrain cranes, translates to thousands of pages of load charts,” Weiss says.

Users can provide the weight and dimensions of the object they intend to lift, and the location and size of any obstructions on the job site. 3D Lift Plan will search the load charts of all the user’s cranes to find the most economical configurations for the lift.

3D Lift Plan offers three dimensional graphics, the ability to import CAD drawings or Google Earth imagery, individual crane model graphics that represent each specific crane, as well as the ability to add rigging or environmental obstructions.

Weiss says that knowing the full range of force exerted through each outrigger or through the loading points on a crawler crane has become a hot-button issue for crane owners.

The OSHA ‘Cranes & Derricks in Construction’ rule in the US specifically requires crane users to identify and plan for ground conditions, and the ground’s ability to support the pressure exerted. The software includes a ground bearing pressure tool that helps crane users identify this critical information.

If a crane on 3D Lift Plan’s database does not include the full data to calculate ground bearing pressure, the software provides a way for users to enter the data on a case-by-case basis.

A1A Software offers free weekly online classes. It also offers training sessions at client locations and boot camp classes at its new training facility in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

An online application, 3D Lift Plan can be accessed everywhere, a feature greatly appreciated by its clients. To enhance accessibility, at ConExpo 2017, the company is planning to launch a version of the software suitable for iPads and Android tablets.

A feature enabling users to create an animation of the lift will also be launched at the show. Among the other plans for 3D Lift Plan this year is to upgrade the rigging tools by building a database with more rigging hardware.

“I think with all the OSHA regulations in the US, crane rental companies and contractors are really understanding the importance of a lift-planning program,” says Weiss.

Safety is the primary reason for people to use lift-planning software. “If you plan a job correctly, you should be able to safely go and perform a lift.”

Weiss highlights that the benefits of the software go beyond that, as it could also be used as a communication and sales tool.

“Through this program, you are able to communicate with your customers about how you are going to perform the lift that they need. As a communication tool, it not only helps the customer understand what you are going to do, but also helps you sell the job. If you are giving somebody little sketches on a piece of paper versus a really nice lift plan in 3D, I think the customer would opt for the one with the 3D representation,” explains Weiss.

Selling a better option

Steve Phillips, equipment manager at Sterling Boiler and Mechanical, used 3D Lift Plan to demonstrate how an all terrain with luffing jib could be used in place of tower cranes for work on a chemical processing facility.

The purpose of this project was to install a monorail system on top of outlet ducts on five processing units. This monorail system was to be used to service SO3 nozzles that were being installed into the outlet duct.

During the bidding process, the proposed method of erection was to use two tower cranes – one located at a decommissioned stack north of the fifth unit, and another located at the decommissioned stack between the first and second units. Using this method would require the monorail systems to be stick-built at a 130ft elevation on top of the units’ outlet duct.

Based on the plan to use the two tower cranes, it would have taken a 12-month rental schedule for each of these cranes to complete the work. The installation of each tower crane would have required a foundation to be installed, leading to additional costs.

Steve Phillips, equipment manager at Sterling Boiler and Mechanical, says: “As a result of using 3D Lift Plan on this project, I was able to show a plan to use a Grove GMK7550 with luffing jib instead of the two tower cranes to complete the project. This machine met the needed requirements for capacity, headroom, and obstruction clearance. I started by laying the project out in 3D Lift Plan, showing the monorail system assembly area, the set location of each monorail system, and all obstructions.”

Phillips proposed the use of a 65t rough terrain to build each of the monorail systems in modules on the ground, in the area where they could then be lifted and set into place.

“By using the GMK7550, I was able to reduce the cranerental schedule to two months, as opposed to the 12-month rental schedule required using the two tower cranes. In addition, we were able to build the monorails in modules on the ground, which reduced the total man-hours needed for erection, and allowed us to complete the project using a safer and more efficient process,” says Phillips.

Sterling Boiler and Mechanical used 3D Lift Plan to show how this job could be performed using all-terrain cranes in place of tower cranes.
The lift plan used by Sterling Boiler and Mechanical.