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Second sight

On urban and tightly confined construction projects, cameras are increasingly becoming a necessity to ensure tower crane operators have complete visibility over the jobsite. Stéphane Dumont, manager for parts development and customer support at Manitowoc, shares the exciting rise of Potain's new zoomcamera solution.

Potain’s zoomcamera for top-slewing tower cranes gives operators unobstructed and magnified view of both the load and the jobsite.
Potain’s zoomcamera for top-slewing tower cranes gives operators unobstructed and magnified view of both the load and the jobsite.

Since Potain introduced a brand-new camera for top-slewing tower cranes in 2022, customer demand has increased significantly. Now, this simple and reliable solution is helping tower crane operators all over the world to increase their accuracy and efficiency by giving them an unobstructed and magnified view of both the load and the jobsite. In this Looking Up interview, we spoke with Stéphane Dumont, parts development and customer support manager at Manitowoc, to learn more about the game-changing success of the new camera offer.


Looking UP: Hi Stéphane. Tell us, why has the Potain camera solution become so incredibly popular in the last year?


Stéphane Dumont: You’re right, it has been a very exciting year for this particular solution. Although we have offered cameras for 20 years, the turning point came in 2022 when we launched a brand-new solution. The technology features a different communication system and convenient plug-and-play design that elevates the quality and reliability while significantly reducing installation time. In contrast to our previous cameras, which required half a day for setup and antenna adjustments, the new solution takes just 90 minutes to install.


LP: How does this unprecedented demand fit into the overall market context?


Stéphane: Well, the increased demand is not only down to the fact that we have a great solution backed by great technical support. It’s also because of the changing nature of jobsites. They are becoming increasingly urban, confined, and complex, which means crane operators can’t always see everything they need to. For instance, there might be a building blocking the view from the cab to the hook. So the operator needs a camera to see how to maneuver the load accurately and efficiently and avoid any collisions. With a camera, the decision is in the hand of the crane driver in real time. There is no need to communicate with a second person on the ground via a walkie-talkie and risk a delayed reaction or misunderstanding. For some construction companies these days, it’s even their policy to have all top-slewing tower cranes fitted with cameras. So, it’s a growing business for sure.

Stéphane Dumont, parts development and customer support manager at Manitowoc
Stéphane Dumont, parts development and customer support manager at Manitowoc.

Looking UP: What can tower crane operators see with the new Potain camera?


Stéphane: The camera is mounted just underneath the trolley of a top slewing crane or on the jib noose of a luffing crane, enabling operators to have a clear view from the crane’s hook down to the ground with no blind spots. It has a 22x optical zoom feature so the operator can even zoom in to see details on the ground. This zoom is controlled by a pedal on the floor of the cab, which makes it really easy and convenient for the operator to use. The high-quality video feed from the camera is then relayed to a screen inside the cab and customers have the option to select either a 10-inch or 13-inch screen size according to their preference.


Looking UP: What maintenance does the camera need?


Stéphane: Absolutely none! Once the camera system is installed, there is nothing to maintain or adjust. The camera is battery-powered, recharged by a solar panel, and boasts an impressive battery service life, backed by  three -year warranty. The fact that the system is powered by solar energy 365 days a year without the need to ever charge with battery from any source other than the solar panel is an unprecedented and unique feature in the market. The system is also very robust. It can work in temperatures from -30°C to +65°C or -22°F to +149°F and is capable of withstanding wind and rain, as well as any shocks or vibrations. And if customers do ever encounter any issues or need assistance, they needn’t worry as we provide excellent technical support through our network of dealers and subsidiaries. For example, when we worked with a rental company to install the cameras throughout their fleet, we gave plenty of training on how to operate the camera system and addressed some minor settings issues. Since then, the company has been extremely satisfied with the technology.



Looking UP: What do you see as the future for crane cameras?


Stéphane: This is just a first step in the evolution. We have now added a recorder to our offer and in the future there could also be other potential safety features such as the ability to detect people below the load or to identify the type of load. In general, however, we are hopeful for continued success with the camera both as a factory-fit and aftermarket solution. Construction sites around the world are only becoming more confined and complex and we have a dependable and user-friendly plug-and play solution that can help to boost operator confidence, speed, and precision in such environments. In the coming years, we anticipate that cameras will become an indispensable tool throughout the construction industry.


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