Carry That Weight
Carry That Weight
As published in Modern Metals, September 2023 Issue.
Seismic activity is no match for a structural steel engineering firm that uses magnetic lifting tools to manage large, heavy plates.
CoreBrace is an engineering and manufacturing company that fabricates buckling restrained braces (BRBs). These are used to reinforce building structures against earthquakes while significantly reducing the amount of material and cost that would be used without these innovative devices.
One recent CoreBrace project was the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, home of the Los Angeles Chargers and reigning Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams. The stadium is located near the Newport-Inglewood Fault and has the potential to see very high seismic forces.
Over 1,100 CoreBrace BRBs were used in the design of the stadium. The project—which won a 2023 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS2) Award from the American Institute of Steel Construction— also showcased buckling restrained braces with various connection types including pinned, bolted and welded brace connections.
AISC, in announcing the 2023 IDEAS2 award winners, stated that CoreBrace’s structural steel bracing system “allows a massive new stadium to feel light while allowing movement in the event of seismic activity.”
CoreBrace BRBs are made of a steel core that is specially sized for each project to maximize the safety and efficiency of the structure. The core is surrounded by a steel casing that prevents the core from buckling in an earthquake, allowing the BRB to protect the building and its occupants from large seismic forces.
In recent years, production of BRBs had increased to a point where efficiency was becoming compromised and loading 50-foot-long plates with hooks and chains became inefficient.
Corebrace reached out to Magswitch Technology to help find a better system. Magswitch, based in Superior, Colorado, specializes in switchable magnetic technology in material handling applications.
With 41 issued patents and others pending, Magswitch has evolved from a single innovation in switchable magnets to numerous technologies that cover many methods of gripping industrial raw materials and finished products.
With multiple cutting tables working 24 hours a day, six days a week, efficiency and safety when loading and unloading plate is critical to maintaining the workflow that is necessary to meet the customer demand, according to Enoch Eskelson, operations manager at CoreBrace.
Magswitch’s director of sales and engineering visited CoreBrace’s manufacturing facility in Pocatello, Idaho, to see the existing process of handling metal and what solution might best improve the shop’s productivity. After reviewing CoreBrace’s process and plate profiles, Magswitch’s engineering team determined that a 40-ton lift capacity telescoping system would be able to handle the wide range of plates that CoreBrace is moving from inventory to the cutting tables.
Magswitch’s telescoping system, which extends from 20 to 33 feet and can handle plates ranging from 10 to 50 feet long, uses Magswitch’s Switchable Permanent Magnets (SPM). These magnets are fail-safe: they will not drop the part with loss of power and have low power consumption when compared to electromagnets. After discussions with the Magswitch team, CoreBrace found that a fail-safe system would be ideal for handling 3/16-inch up to 2-inch-thick plate.
“We gave some thought to electromagnets but the risk of dropping the plate due to power loss and a 60 percent duty cycle was not appealing,” Eskelson says. “With a 100 percent duty cycle, the Magswitch SPM would be able to keep up with our production rate, and we had no fear of dropping the plate or burning out the magnets, as one does with electromagnets.”
He says the decision was based in part on lower risk and lower maintenance requirements, as well as the high capacity of the new system.
CoreBrace also built a structural bracing system for the Salt Lake City Airport’s earthquake safety project. Completion of the airport’s expansion and rehabilitation will be completed next year.
For most applications, Magswitch SPMs are well suited for handling plates safely and effectively, as with CoreBrace. Given its full line of magnetic grippers, Magswitch also manufactures electromagnets for those specific applications where the customer requires a deep magnetic field to handle multiple plates but where the customer understands the inherent risks with the low duty cycle and the potential of dropping plate with loss of power.
Magswitch has developed and commercialized a range of magnetic grippers that are based on proprietary technology and incorporate Industry 4.0 technology for automation. These grippers reduce overhead costs and deliver faster throughput with a material handling system that is virtually maintenance free.
Green tools like Magswitch’s systems can reduce energy consumption by up to 90 percent. The company cites a major European manufacturer that has achieved savings of up to 40 percent on robot cells designed around the technology. Magswitch began entering the collaborative robot space last year.
DIVERSE LIFT SYSTEMS
The company has a Heavy Lifting Solutions division that offers a full line of lift systems for handling plate, pipe, I-beam, and other shapes. HLS was established to offer safe and efficient solutions to small and large fabricators, and alternative energy manufacturers, as well as military, shipyard and rolling stock applications.
HLS’s product line is designed for small to large plate lift systems reaching up to 150 feet and lifting capacities ranging from 1 ton to 160 tons.
Cordless electric models off er single magnets, up to 4 tons in a single magnet unit; systems are scalable based on customer requirements; and customers can choose from selective destack burn tables.
HLS engineers work closely with customers to specify the best system using finite analysis software systems to build and test units before production to ensure proper ASME lifting standards and magnetic strength testing. It will also build custom solutions. HLS provides RIO reporting, on-site installation, in-field training, recertification and repairs for customers.