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Winner: CKAS Mechatronics for “Cranky” Full Motion Wharf Crane Simulator

PACE Zenith Awards

Machine Builder category (sponsored by B&R)

Winner: CKAS Mechatronics

Project: CKAS "Cranky" Full Motion Wharf Crane Simulator

(Pictured alongside is Chris Kasapis from CKAS Mechatronics.)

The CKAS "Cranky" Full Motion Wharf Crane Simulator is an innovative training tool for the container port logistics industry, offering for the first time in Australia, a simulator for training crane operators on a full motion high fidelity device.

It is an exact replica of a typical crane cabin built to scale and includes a large array of switches, lights, gauges and other specialised, sophisticated instruments.

The software used in the model is highly accurate in showing the performance of the crane and features four crane types in the one machine.

A full six degrees of freedom is built into the motion system supplying all the correct cues to properly train crane drivers on the wharf.

Director at CKAS Mechatronics, Chris Kasapis says the system is mostly Australian and is revolutionary in its niche in the Australian market.

"Basically we built all the heavy equipment hardware that went into it," explained Kasapis. "We built the six degree freedom motion systems and all the infrastructure which houses it." 

The company wanted to set themselves apart from the rest and did this by developing a visual system that was able to provide the same large field of view offered to crane drivers in a real crane.

The unique mechanical design specially incorporates full motion six-degrees of freedom in a confined space and manages to supply all of the realistic vibrations and cues for full immersion. 

"Effectively from a hardware point of view it is quite a sophisticated system and has many features which are pretty much either world firsts or Australian firsts," said Kasapis.

One of the biggest hurdles that the company had to overcome was the fact that the project required a large set of multidisciplinary engineering skills.

Chris Kasapis (L) of CKAS Mechatronics accepts the award from B&R's Stefan Zeintl, sponsor of the Machine Builder category.

Chris Kasapis (L) of CKAS Mechatronics accepts the award from B&R's Stefan Zeintl, sponsor of the Machine Builder category. 

They managed to overcome this through the selection of engineers who were highly skilled in many facets of engineering, and had proven track records of working on high stress jobs in the past, as the four month deadline meant extra pressure was on the staff.

The judges recognised this fact in the appraisal of the company: "This project represents a good application in simulation for operator training in the workplace as well as contributing to safety management. A small engineering innovation company was able to master very large set of multidisciplinary engineering skills to deliver this project."

The company outsourced just one aspect of the software but are proud of the Australian talent that produced the simulator.

"In terms of the software all the motion control software and all the motion system firmware was developed all in house completely in Australia and we used basically a partner or third party piece of software to do some of the crane simulation – that's an Indian company that we work with, ARI," Kasapis said. 

Kasapis is looking forward to the future of CKAS and the potential it has to achieve even more success in the crane simulation field.

"Thankfully for us it looks like we are now also on the verge of signing up the client again for at least three more units of the same thing and also to further expand the amount of crane models that we simulate, so it is a case of hopefully the customer coming back for more."

In a climate of pessimism for Australian manufacturing, one of the good news stories is the thriving position of local machine builders.PACE Zenith Awards 2012: Machine Builder category is proudly sponsored by B&R
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