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New SENNEBOGEN Duty Cycle Crane Puts The Brakes On Maintenance Costs For Harsco Drop-Ball Application

6100 HD DB Harsco Metals 1

John Little, Operations Director for Harsco Metals in Hamilton, Ontario, says the SENNEBOGEN 6100 HD DB simplifies operator recruitment, using the familiar joystick control instead of old-style friction brakes and clutches.

Hamilton, Ontario – The aging lattice boom crane at Harsco Metals’ drop-ball pit needed refurbishing or replacement soon. For John Little, now Operations Director for the Harsco facility in Hamilton, Ontario, replacement was definitely the preferred option. The cost of maintaining the 50-year-old workhorse was continuing to rise and there was no promise that further investment would produce a fair return. They needed a new duty-cycle crane.

Harsco’s procurement committee agreed with Little and, today, North America’s first SENNEBOGEN 6100 HD DB duty-cycle crane stands in its place.

Special equipment for special needs

In Canada and the United States, the SENNEBOGEN name is linked to the growing fleet of green hydraulic material handlers that have emerged, over the past 12 years, as industry leaders in recycling and mill facilities. Elsewhere in the world, SENNEBOGEN is equally well known for its full range of heavy-lift cranes. All customers, however, acknowledge the firm’s excellent reputation for customizing equipment to suit its specific application.

When John Little began his search for a new drop-ball crane, he was already familiar with SENNEBOGEN green machines, with several models already at work in the Harsco fleet. He took his application needs to the SENNEBOGEN distributor in the area, Top Lift Enterprises, and was pleasantly surprised by their recommendation of the 6100 HD DB.

“We surveyed other makes and models but most were in lifting applications, not designed as duty cycle cranes. And almost all were single-line cranes. SENNEBOGEN had dual-hoist cranes in its catalogue and had some history in the field,” says Little.

Little traveled to the UK for a demonstration of 6100 models in operation there. “I was pleased by the performance of the machine, but also pleased by the factory’s responsiveness to specific requests for support.”

Purpose-built for heavy duty-cycles

Heavy lifting and fast duty cycles were the critical needs at Harsco’s drop-ball pit. Along with other service processes at the Hamilton site, Harsco is resizing steel and slag under contract with the nearby Dofasco steel mill. Kress Pot Carriers deliver molten material to the Harsco property, where a drop-ball is used to break up the material into two to three ton pieces in the drop-ball pit. The 6100 HD DB is equipped with a 100-ft. boom, which raises the ball to the top, then releases it into the 50-ft. deep pit. The cycle is completed when the lifting magnet is dropped into the pit to retrieve the ball.

However, with this 6100, “drop” is not entirely accurate as a description of the job. As David Shea at Top Lift explains, “the hydraulic dual-hoist crane powers the load up and also powers the magnet down, which dramatically reduces wear on the hoist brakes. The independent drives split the load, so it’s able to lift very quickly and efficiently. Then the magnet is still under hydraulic control as it’s lowered, so wear on the brake is minimized without slowing the duty cycle.”

Shea notes that the brakes are also mounted in hydraulic lubricant, so temperatures stay cool despite the heavy loads and continuous cycling.

Duty-Cycle Crane 6100 HD DB Harsco Metals

This SENNEBOGEN 6100 HD DB duty cycle crane reduces brake wear and maintenance by splitting its load over dual hydraulic hoists as it powers the load up and also powers the magnet down to retrieve its drop ball.

Significant maintenance savings

According to Little, the payoff from a purpose-built duty-cycle crane is a significant reduction of downtime and maintenance costs. First commissioned here in 2009, the 6100 HD DB has now logged 15,000 hours of service. “We like to see the machines running,” he says. “We are moving material for our customer around the clock every day.”

Little reports that the 6100’s hydraulic lifting system not only allows longer service intervals, it reduces time and costs every time normal servicing is required. “There are no friction brakes, or air clutches like the old machine had,” he explains. “It used to need two or three mechanics for every job due to the size of the components in a mechanical system – now one person can do most of the servicing on hydraulic components. The accessibility to service components is better as well; they come apart easily. You don’t have to spend two days taking off the outer housing before you can start to work on the machine.”

Little estimates that even the operating cost for his lifting magnets is as much as three-times lower as a result of the operator’s control all the way down.

“Smart” engineering

“The hydraulic cooling is very efficient,” he continues. “But we’re glad we went with its optional oil heater. Overnight temperatures here can go down to -30°C; our older machines often had problems starting up with their air systems. The 6100 is always ready to run.”

Although Harsco’s machine has been customized to the job, it makes extensive use of commonly available service parts. The cab and controls of the 6100 is identical to the operator’s station on SENNEBOGEN’s green machines, which led Little to another welcome benefit:

“It’s easier to find an operator that can run it!” he claims. “With its joystick control, you don’t have to know the old technology with friction brakes and the clutches, getting a feel for the various levers and foot pedals. It’s a more intuitive operation for anyone familiar with modern equipment and can adjust to it quickly, including control of the dragline to retrieve the ball. There’s health benefit for operators, too, in its ease of handling.”


SENNEBOGEN has been a leading name in the global material handling industry for over 65 years. Based in Stanley, North Carolina, within the greater Charlotte region, SENNEBOGEN LLC offers a complete range of purpose-built machines to suit virtually any material handling application. Established in America in the year 2000, SENNEBOGEN LLC has quickly become a leading provider of specialized equipment solutions for recycling and scrap metal yards, demolition, barge and port operations, log-handling, transfer stations, waste facilities and the tree care industry from coast to coast. A growing network of distributors supports SENNEBOGEN LLC sales and service across the Americas, ensuring the highest standard of professional machine support and parts availability.

For more information on the full line of SENNEBOGEN green line material handlers, contact:

1957 Sennebogen Trail
Stanley, NC 28164
Tel: (704) 347-4910 or fax (704) 347-8894