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Slide-Column Manipulators

Slide-Column Manipulators

The Slide-Column manipulators combine the best features of a manipulator and a light industrial crane.

In fact, the two very different worlds of cranes and manipulators intersect with the Slide-Column.

Over many years, our designers developed the Slide-Column manipulator to combine the rigidity of a column with the mobility of a crane.

Advantages of Slide-Column Manipulator

The Slide-Column consists of two vertical rails and one fixed one sliding. The sliding rail travels vertically, held aloft by an air cylinder. The end effector hangs from the bottom of the slide-column manipulator is free to rotate from a bearing block

The end effector (usually a gripper) is held rigidly upright cannot swing or pivot as it would hanging from a crane. This rigidity of the slide-column manipulator is enormously useful: 

  • When lifting an offset load 
  • If the load has to be pivoted, causing the center-of-gravity to shift 
  • If the load has to be inserted into an opening, in the same way as putting a cake into an oven 
  • If there are multiple loads, each with a different center of gravity 

A manipulator offers these benefits, but it has a limited reach radius. A slide-column manipulator is a very lightweight lifting device that can travel as far as a crane can: up to 9m in the direction of the bridges 40m in the direction of the runways. 

Slide-Column Manipulators for Floating Loads

One of the great advantages of manipulators over cranes is their ability to make a load float without up/down push-buttons. This is also possible with the slide-column

In the case of the floating load, the operator simply pulls up down on the handlebars while the load floats. Without the distraction of up/down push buttons, an operator’s speed accuracy can be increased.

Slide-Column Manipulators for Floating Loads

Two bridges always suspend the slide-columns. The bridges typically carry exaggerated loads because an offset load (aka a moment load) will cause a downward load on one bridge an upward load on the other. 

The bridges have to be very strong, yet lightweight. In most cases, we use G-rail™ cranes with the Slant Truss reinforcement (patented) with slide-columns. 


Slide-Column Manipulator Load Capacity

Our SC5 Slide-Column manipulator has a moment capacity of 5,000 in-lb, measured from the center of the bearing block outward a lift capacity of 300 lb, including the weight of the end effector. 

The SC5 is an all-aluminum, very lightweight lifting device, developed to withstand repeated applications of offset loads starts stops. A push button normally controls the up/down movement. Designed to work in “float mode” as well.

Slide-Columns for Bridge Cranes

Two KBK bridges suspend this slide-column. Note that the bridges cannot be allowed to articulate (or skew) have been “rigidized” via specialized end trucks. The end effector here consists of a set of automated nut-runners that fasten an auto hatch in place. Cable tracks have replaced festooning.

Pictured here are two huge steel slide-columns meant to carry a 1000-lb assembly including an engine, radiator, cradle, rotors struts. It is suspended from Unified rail moves up down using a pneumatic hoist. 

The Slide-Column Manipulator Working with G-Rail Crane

An SC5 slide-column can be seen here lifting exhaust systems through an unusually large vertical travel of 1.5m. The slide-column travels on a very large G-Rail™ bridge crane. The height-under-bridge is 4m the bridge runway spans are both 9m.

Notice the slant-trusses on both the bridges the runways. The entire moving assembly is so large that the use of any crane rail type other than G-Rail™ would have rendered the crane too heavy for rapid movement.

A custom, all-steel slide-column manipulator moves rear axle assemblies in this photo. Featuring G-Rail™, Lightweight Slant Truss Reinforcement, Two G46 Grippers & Handlebars.

Slide-Column Manipulator for Heavy Loads

With a normal crane, when any tractor drive is activated, the hoist chain immediately begins to swing. When motion stops, the load continues to swing, making placing of the load very difficult. 

Our first Slide-Column was made specifically to address a very real problem with a crane carrying engines at a major auto assembler. The swinging of the chain the load made it impossible to keep up with production. 

When we installed a slide-column to lift engines, very similar to the one pictured, the swinging stopped production increased dramatically. After roughly 13 years, our slide-column is still lifting engines meeting production.

Have any questions about our slide-column manipulators?