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Enduro Softslings - Full Package for Heavy Lifting

Enduro Softslings builds machines for the manufacture of its own heavy lifting soft slings. For a new machine, it called in itsme for the full package: advice on the drives, supply of components and programming of the controls. “We completed the entire project in just over six months. That’s fast for such a specialised machine.”

Enduro Softslings in De Goorn (province of Noord-Holland) manufactures soft slings (lifting belts or round slings) for heavy lifting. For example, for the large offshore cranes that install wind turbines at sea. Soft slings are manufactured from a high-performance synthetic yarn (HMPE), which is wound into an endless round sling. This material has a much more favourable strength-to-weight ratio than common steel. A specific load then requires a lighter lifting sling that is easier to handle. Enduro develops and builds the high-precision production machines itself because they are not available on the market. As a result, it manufactures a wide spectrum of soft slings with lengths ranging from 0.5 to 120 metres, for loads from 100 to 3,500 tonnes.

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Connections between fixed and moving worlds

Remko Heuvelmans, who joined Enduro in early 2023 as Project Manager, took the design for a new machine “off the back burner”. “itsme was already involved in the first design, so I approached them again this time. They were flexible in their availability, were able to supply the appropriate components, as well as programming. In this way, we could place the full package in itsme’s hands.” The design provided for eight axes to move in a coordinated manner to wind the round sling. The challenges faced were in controlling the complex movements and the connections for data and power between the fixed and moving worlds. It goes without saying that none of the cables could get tangled. Cees Rademaker, Technical Consultant at itsme: “There are electrically moving parts on the axes that need to be controlled and powered. For data you can of course use a wireless connection, but for power you need a mechanical transmission. That’s where we opted for slip-ring contacts.”

“We could place the full package in itsme’s hands.”

The winding of the soft slings is controlled by Festo spindle axes. itsme helped with the initial calculations, advised on the specifications for the drive, provided programming of the machine control and supplied all components to cabinet builder BNK Mechatronica. Rademaker: “When programming, we also included the required safety measures and the communication with the bobbin drawing machine, which controls the supply of yarn.”

There were no issues with the supply of materials, notes Rademaker. “Some components unfortunately have a longer delivery time. We only had to wait a little longer for the drives, but that had no repercussions in terms of programming.” Heuvelmans: “We had completely figured out beforehand the design of the machine and then started ordering the components right away.”

Efficient machine

The machine has now been completely assembled and the first tests have been successful, says Heuvelmans. “With every machine, it is exciting to find out whether it will do what it is supposed to do. Will we get the soft slings out as efficiently as we intended and will everything stay in one piece? For instance, what happens if the machine freezes, will everything become crooked? Fortunately, we haven’t experienced that yet. Will all the components hold up as intended, after all, we are making a heavy and robust product on the machine? During testing, everything went well. We hope to start production soon. If that is the case, we will have completed the entire project in a little over six months. That’s fast for such a specialised machine.”

“A little over six months is fast for such a special project.”

The new machine alone has not yet had a major impact on production at Enduro, Heuvelmans knows. “The machine is meant to produce smaller soft slings in an efficient way and to relieve an existing machine. That said, we have an idea for a bigger version of the machine, which will allow us to produce longer and heavier round slings. First, we want to gain experience with the small version, and then, based on that experience, build the bigger one. This will mean that we can really start producing more, especially if the new machine is easier to set up and therefore faster.”

Positive mood

Meanwhile, Heuvelmans has already enlisted itsme for other business; including the supply of Siemens components. “We also have a lot of in-house plans for new projects. I don’t rule out involving itsme in those too. Why? Because I am positive about our cooperation. From the beginning, we communicated weekly with itsme as part of the project to discuss our requirements for components and software. They know what we want and they incorporate that into their work.” Rademaker also liked the intensive contact. “Together, we build the design in great detail, which takes a bit more time during the project. We also have clients who provide the work and ask us to make it. Although that appears to work faster, there is often extra work afterwards. To us, collaborating like we do with Enduro is the best way to approach a project.”


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