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Technology Forges Ahead

In recent years Hiab brought a number of new products to the market, most of which have been developed at the Test and Innovation Centre in Hudiksvall, Sweden. Sotiris Kanaris visits the facility.

Hudiksvall used to be the home of Hiab’s manufacturing facility before the multi assembly unit was opened in Stargard, Poland.

Today there is a number of Hiab divisions there, but according to director of innovation and business development Stefan Onkenhout, the Test and Innovation Centre is the most dominant part.

At the building of the Test and Innovation Centre one can see welding robots, the latest technology equipment for welding and material analysis, a mini assembly line for prototypes and an indoor product testing area. There is also a large outdoor area which is used for testing.

In recent years the R&D staff have given emphasis to welding, developing their own welding standards.
“We have been really pushing the boundaries on welding. We are developing our own welding standard because we understand we need to control certain properties of the weld in a different way than the one available with the open standards,” Onkenhout says.

In order to create the standards but also assess the work of external suppliers, the team has created a process of checks through which they obtain extensive data on welds. Samples from welds are taken from where there are high stresses or complex areas to weld. The samples are polished and scanned.

A dedicated software then checks whether the piece has failed against welding standards. The researchers also look for defects, shapes or geometries that would determine the strength and fatigue. A separate piece machine is used to analyse the hardness, while robots using laser scan the surface of the weld to find if it is consistent to the company’s standard. A tensile fatigue tester machine is also used, which works by pulling the piece statically or dynamically until it breaks.

“There are so many properties when it comes to welding we have learned the last couple of years. It allows us to have less steel per tonne-metre of crane capacity, therefore a lighter crane,” Onkenhout says.
Hiab’s R&D team in Hudiksvall has also been pushing boundaries with the integration of new technologies to the company’s offering.

An example is the HiVision 3D control system, which was developed in collaboration with Hiab’s forestry crane R&D department in Finland.

This system allows operators of Hiab’s Loglift/Jonsered forestry cranes to operate them from the truck cabin using 3D glasses.

“HiVision was created because we wanted to increase the distance between the operator controlling the crane and a potentially hazardous working area. Our challenge was to make sure that the operator has the depth vision, hence the stereo cameras. With a single camera is tricky to realise whether you are one metre away from the log or at the loading point. With the stereo vision and the goggles is extremely easy,” Onkenhout says.
Hans Ohlsson, director, medium range, loader cranes says through the development of HiVision and the Crane Tip Control (CTC)—a software feature in HIAB’s HiPro control system—Hiab simplified crane operation. He says it is important because one of the main issues of fleet owners is recruiting experienced operators.