Delivering exciting and innovative products starts with blue-sky thinking. “We have the freedom here to think outside the box to keep our customers satisfied,” says R&D Manager Carl-Johan Fogelberg. “But imagination can only take you so far. You also need the tools to build the future you have imagined.”

“We have brought them all together in our new lifting table laboratory, which we call the Garage to emphasize its hands-on, problem-solving ethos,” explains Carl-Johan. “It has two main focus areas. One is near-time IT solutions, to meet here-and-now challenges. The other is finding new ways to solve long-standing issues in mechanical control and regulation.”

Beating the post-installation blues

Engineering Manager Fredrik Larsson points out that one recurring here-and-now challenge is the newly installed lifting table that “doesn’t work”, according to the customer. “In fact, we test the operation of every lifting table on site before completing the delivery,” says Fredrik. “What usually causes the apparent problem is incorrect programming of the PLC system. Once, we would have had to send a skilled engineer to the customer, inspect the whole installation, and track down and fix the fault.”

“Slow, and expensive!” says Fredrik. “People wasting time and energy traveling, equipment out of use during inspections, lost production… it all adds up.” The solution has been among the first contributions from the Garage: online fault identification and rectification. “It’s win-win-win,” observes Fredrik. “Our customer gets their problem solved faster at lower cost, we save time on travel, and the environment benefits from our lower energy consumption.”

Black-box toolkit for the future

“Solving problems like these online also builds our in-house programming expertise, a virtuous circle that will make things go even faster in the future,” says Fredrik. “A good example is the new black-box technology we have developed with Secomea, who are specialists in helping businesses leverage the power and flexibility of industrial IoT.”

Secomea’s solution combines data collection and remote access in one simple and secure software platform. “This means we can use our black box to perform all aspects of corrective, preventive, and predictive maintenance,” says Fredrik. “The digital technology we have implemented in our lifting tables gives us real-time access to operating data via the cloud. The number of operations, the operating hours, the temperature of the hydraulic oil – everything we need to be able to guarantee the performance of a particular application.”

“We can address problems without expensive, time-consuming site visits. For our customers, this minimizes unplanned downtime and improves their overall efficiency. We can also use historical data to pre-empt failures and optimize performance.”

New answers to old questions: synchronizing for speed and safety

There are some old challenges still facing the lifting table industry. Consider this scenario: a customer needs a large working platform. These products exist, of course. But for many customers, a more rational choice – more flexible, more cost-effective, quicker to install – is to have two smaller lifting tables operating side-by-side. “And this is where the old challenges emerge,” Fredrik points out. “Synchronization and uneven loading.”

Poorly synchronized lifting tables may move at different times and speeds, creating a dangerous tilt that puts people and goods in harm’s way. A similar problem arises when each lifting table bears a different load. “We are already testing our new smart solution, which puts an end to this,” says Fredrik. “We can build smart guidance and individual regulation into each lifting table. Such precise compensation ensures safety, productivity, and reliability – the total quality that our customers are looking for.”

“This is only one example of the projects in progress in our Garage,” says Fredrik. “Watch this space to be the first to hear what’s coming next in a long line of innovation.”

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