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Overhead Modular Work-Station Cranes

John Maye Associates of Wisconsin, Inc. offers many material handling solutions; one category we’re especially adept at is the overhead, modular, work-station crane.

To break it down for definition purposes:

Overhead: Implies just that, these cranes are suspended overhead of the worker/work area and are used to lift and move product. Overhead systems can be “free-standing”, meaning columns anchored to the floor support the crane and runways; or “ceiling hung” which means the runways are attached to the building trusses either directly or by hangers and drop rods.

Modular: Manufacturers of these types of cranes offer materials and components that can be easily engineered to meet the requirements for a given work area or cell. Typically, runway members and bridge members are the same or similar material, and size. Standard components offered include hangers, splices, end trucks, trolleys and festooning. This standardization means systems can be easily quoted, ordered and installed and can fit almost any work envelope. In addition, if systems are taken down as long as they are in proper operating condition they can be re-used.

Work Station Crane: Cranes that are typically lighter capacity (250 lbs. up to 4,000 lbs.); manually (push-pulled) operated; and are made from roll formed steel or aluminum extrusion – sometimes called enclosed track – configuration(s). The end trucks and trolleys for these systems are designed to fit and roll specifically inside the profile of the rail. This provides a smooth moving, easy to move crane and trolley.

JMA offers a number of manufacturers within this category of crane system:

  1. Unified Industries: Unified is one of JMA’s most popular work station crane systems. The main reasons for this are: it’s made out of high strength extruded aluminum which makes it lighter than its steel counterpart (and easier to push/pull); offers articulating end trucks for easier push/pull movements of the bridge; smoothest moving trolleys/end trucks in the industry; and as standard has a 5:1 safety factor. Unified’s early design and focus was for the automotive industry, where safety, ergonomics and ease of use are critical. Those standards and driving forces still exist today at Unified.

    Unified offers many special variations of their rail: it can be formed to make curves, switches and cantilever/telescoping systems, and double-girder crane systems for higher capacities or manipulator suspension. Also somewhat unique, Unified offers end trucks for operation on patented rail runways to allow multiple bridges to operate on a runway system.

    Unified recently introduced its ETA CraneExpress. These are pre-engineered systems in certain capacities and dimensions with all required components to complete a freestanding or ceiling hung system - columns, headers, runways, hangers, bridges, trolleys, festoon brackets and even hoists (Unified is owned by CM). They come ready to ship, quickly, and are easy to install. For aluminum crane systems, Unified sets the bar high!

  2. Demag KBK: KBK loosely translated in German means “crane builder kit”. Demag invented the enclosed track work station crane system, and has the most extensive offering of any manufacturer.

    KBK is available in both steel and aluminum construction with 14 different rail profiles offered to meet the exact needs for any given project. And, when you consider options such as switches, turntables, curves, interlocking transfer cranes and telescoping rails are available – meeting any layout or design is possible.

    Some of the other KBK attributes are internal electrification to eliminate external festooning or conductor bar, articulating end trucks, articulating hangers with threaded vertical adjustment for leveling rail easily; double girder cranes for higher capacities or manipulators.

    KBK systems are offered in pre-engineered systems complete with all needed runways, bridges, trolleys/end trucks and columns if needed. Of course, Demag is also known for its electric chain hoists and these can be integrated easily into the system!

    For the highest quality and greatest array of components and possibilities for overhead crane systems, look to Demag KBK.

  3. Spanco: For over 30 years, Spanco has been providing cost effective overhead crane systems. Known as “c-track” type rail systems, Spanco has a full offering of components to meet almost any capacity or layout. Systems for capacities from 250 lbs. up to 4,000 lbs. are available. Spanco offers both free-standing systems and ceiling hung systems; in both steel and aluminum systems.

    Commonality in components such as hangers, splices, end trucks, trolleys all make for an easy to engineer, easy to purchase and easy to install system. Spanco customer service and quoting is also easy due in part to their quick quote system. This system allows us to do quotes on-line without the need for customer service or inside sales. Providing a quote for most systems can be done quickly and at any time of the day with the quote system!

    In addition to the highlights above, Spanco also offers install flexibility: freestanding bridge cranes are ideal for rented facilities or when workflow changes are possible; they are easily relocated and typically require only a standard concrete floor for installation.

    When looking for a cost effective overhead system, look no further than Spanco.

This article focuses on overhead modular crane systems that are typically manually moved; but it should be noted that each of the manufacturers listed offer many related items such as: tractor drives to motorize movements, switches, curves, large motorized overhead systems (higher capacities up to 100 ton and more), jib cranes, gantry cranes, hoists, fall arrest and below the hook devices to name a few.

In addition, John Maye Associates can offer many related items for overhead cranes such as electrification systems, patented track rail systems integrated with many of the cranes listed above, hoists (both electric and pneumatic), below the hook devices and installation services.

Please contact us at John Maye Associates to learn more, answer any questions, or provide a quote on an overhead crane system to meet your needs!


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