Demag’s longest crane will help build new Airbus jet



Photograph: Airbus/ Stefan Kruijer

A process crane designed and built by Demag with a record span of 106 metres will be used in the assembly of the new Airbus A321XLR long-range jet in Hamburg-Finkenwerder.

Travelling on a path of 82 metres, it will be the longest crane that Demag has ever built and will cover the entire area of the factory bay. The double-girder suspension crane will travel on six crane runways, which will be installed parallel to each other at distances of 24 and 10 metres under the factory roof.

The hoists used on the double-girder process crane are just as unusual as its dimensions. Its trolley features a slewing mechanism with four Demag hoist units installed in a rectangular arrangement. They can be adjusted relative to each other in the X and Y axes, enabling the crane to handle the various fuselage panels and sections of the Airbus A321XLR.

In this way, the crane system offers additional freedom: in the rotational axis and for the position of the four hoist units relative to each other.

Each of the four hoist units has a load capacity of 6.25 t, providing a total load capacity of 25 tons, while the crane is operated by radio control. Depending on the selected combination, the hoist units can be operated as single units or in synchronised mode.

Matthias Berns, application expert aviation at Demag Cranes & Components, said: “This new project reflects the many years of mutual trust and co-operation with our customer Airbus. We are setting another milestone in aircraft production and will help the new A321XLR long-range jet to a successful take-off.”

Dr Thomas Bönker, senior vice president process cranes, added: “We have been helping the aviation industry with reliable cranes for decades. More than every second passenger aircraft is assembled using Demag crane systems worldwide.

“Just like the aircraft, the cranes have become ever bigger and offer more performance with an increasingly higher level of automation. With the crane for its new production bay, Airbus has opted for reliable technology in a new dimension.”

The long and cross-travel drives and the slewing drive, as well as the lifting and lowering motions, feature variable speeds. Monitoring of synchronised operation of the four hoist units in a low tolerance range will ensure that the large, sensitive fuselage sections are lifted and lowered evenly without any risk of twisting.

Demag said the semi-automated target positioning function will ensure gentle, safe and reliable handling. The crane will be used in two-shift operation with assembly scheduled for April 2022.

The Demag project team is now working on detailed engineering and preparing for production.