New Gangway Line Racks Up Points For Safety, Durability

In development for 18 months, the patent-pending SafeRack G4 gangway uses metal-stamping technology to create a stronger platform that is also lighter

In development for 18 months, the patent-pending SafeRack G4 gangway uses metal-stamping technology to create a stronger platform that is also lighter and easier to operate when used for fall protection during truck and railcar loading of cement and other materials.

Traditional gangway design incorporates parts made of galvanized steel or aluminum and welded together, a construction process that yields heavy gangways susceptible to cracked or fatigued welds after prolonged use, leading to costly repairs or untimely breakdowns. The G4 gangways are constructed using parts Û typically aluminum Û that are stamped out in a tool-and-die process and formed by bending the metal into the required shape, eliminating the need to weld pieces together. This process is said to be quicker than the one used for legacy gangway systems, allowing for more expedient delivery and turnaround time.

When welding aluminum, the aluminum has to be thick enough to receive a full-penetration weld to bond the two parts together, explains Rob Honeycutt, cofounder of Sumter, S.C.-based SafeRack, LLC. When bending the material used in the construction of the G4, you can use thinner, lighter sections that are stronger than the welded parts.

All SafeRack gangways have 90 shared parts that fold or unfold as the gangway is used. The use of the new metal-stamping technology means the gangways are more reproducible, yielding accurate replacement parts that can be bolted into the original gangway. Also, in the past, if a gangway were hit by a truck or railcar, it would have been destroyed. With the G4 design, if an accident occurs, SafeRack now has the capability to deliver bolt-in replacement parts on the same day.

Eighty percent of the welds on the gangway have been eliminated, says Honeycutt, and, virtually all of the welds that remain are not direct-impact welds. They are stitch welds or plug welds that aren’t load-bearing.

While lighter materials that don’t require welds are used on the G4, that doesn’t mean that any of the quality has been sacrificed. In fact, the metal-stamping tooling offers the same 4,000ths tolerance on each of the 21 pivot points on the G4 that is found on the company’s other gangways. To test the strength of the new G4 design, engineers placed more than 2,000 pounds Û or four times the recommended load Û on the outermost portion of the gangway. The only thing that failed during the test was the platform built to support the gangway during the testing process.

In addition to aluminum construction, SafeRack plans to offer a stainless-steel model that Û thanks to the weld-less, metal-stamping construction process Û can use more expensive stainless steel that will actually reduce the price to the customer. The stainless-steel G4 model will be corrosion-resistant and weigh half as much as the galvanized model, making it easier to raise and lower.

The G4 will still have such operator-friendly features as slip-resistant tread on the stairs, powder-coated handrails and mid-rails, heavy-duty bumpers, strong and durable springs, four-rail design for maximum fall protection, and easy operation. Customers looking to purchase a G4 gangway will also receive a personal visit from one of SafeRack’s trained, experienced sales force to map out the needs and options for their particular loading-rack operations.That is the high point of what we do, how we do it, and what we have that nobody else has: [A sales force with] more than 200 years of experience that goes into plants, does an analysis of the operations, and comes up with solutions that fit their particular needs, Honeycutt contends.
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