SK Group of France has teamed up with US software company VenturCom to provide software that integrates radio, internet and real-time control technology to prevent tower crane collisions.

SK Group’s IP Crane uses VenturCom’s RTX real-time extension for Windows NT Embedded and NT/2000. It collects data on the location of cranes and other obstacles on a site which is then transmitted in real time by radio to a PC on each crane.

RTX continuously assesses the potential for a collision. If it determines that one is imminent, IP Crane uses RTX to take control and automatically manage the motion of one or more cranes to prevent a collision.

SK claims that IP Crane is the first crane control system to offer internet connectivity through a standard web browser as well as live video conferencing. Maintenance and supervisory functions can be done remotely, and crane operators can communicate with each other across a jobsite.

SK president Severin Kezeu says: “The market opportunity for our product is huge as there are close to 400,000 tower cranes in operation worldwide. Crane manufacturers and builders are continually seeking to improve safety, reliability and intelligence of their equipment. RTX from VenturCom provides the real-time determinism needed to effectively ensure the safety, security and control of the cranes.” Michael Dexter-Smith, VenturCom president and CEO, says: “Our technology makes it quick and easy for high-powered equipment like these cranes to come online with intelligent features that save time, money and lives.” SK Group specialises in anti-collision software for cranes but plans to adapt its technology to ensure the safety of aircraft, boats, trains and cars.

Rival company SMIE, also French, presented anti-collision software with internet connectivity as a concept at the Intermat exhibition in Paris in May 2000.

The SMIE and SK systems have yet to been proven on site.