wireless wind anemometers used in construction for life and crane safety

Wireless anemometers help enhancing safety in crane and lift operations. We discusses the technology, features, and benefits of these devices, particularly their use in providing real-time, accurate wind data.

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NAVIS Wind Safety

Wind has always been dangerous where heavy equipment is operated. Not only are there life-and-death safety concerns, but wind speed and direction can also contribute to rendering machinery inefficient.

That’s why Bigfoot Crane has been working closely with NAVIS Elektronika, a world leader in anemometers.

Together, the two companies have developed the latest technology in wind monitoring for customers who depend on it to keep workers and workplaces safe and efficient.

For the past three years, as NAVIS’ exclusive partner in North America, Bigfoot has been delivering increased safety and peace of mind to customers from British Columbia to Florida. Our NAVIS products have become essential tools on some of the most challenging job sites in several industries.

NAVIS’ passion for improving those products recently catapulted wind monitoring to the next level: the ability to monitor sensors from anywhere on earth via the internet. 

NAVIS Wind Safety

It Started with Cranes

Bigfoot Crane’s primary interest in anemometers has been to ensure safety. Crane operators need to monitor wind speeds in real time so they can abide by the rules and take precautions.

“There are regulations,” said Clayton Loiselle, inside sales at Bigfoot, who has been selling NAVIS products for years. “If you’re operating construction hoists and wind speeds exceed 60 kilometers an hour, you have to shut down. If you’re running a tower crane, it’s 50 kilometers.”

For example, Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors (Indiana, USA) were lifting a massive water tank in limited space next to a high school (view the case study here), so wind monitoring was essential. “On lift day, we relied solely on the NAVIS system,” said engineer Kurt Fuller. “It was the deciding factor for us, and it performed perfectly.”

For safety and productivity, Bigfoot has been putting NAVIS anemometers into the hands of as many crane operators and owners as possible, and everyone loves them.

When Ryan Burton, managing director of Bigfoot, tested the NAVIS system, he could hardly believe that it was so reliable, simple, and affordable.

“We knew immediately that this was a game changer,” said  Burton. “There was clearly nothing better. For the safety and benefit of crane operators, I wanted to get these systems in circulation. So we asked NAVIS if Bigfoot could be its exclusive partner in North America. They said yes, and we went to work together.”

Gerry Wiebe, marketing manager at Bigfoot, said, “When we found NAVIS, no other company could compete. Their products are that good, and they keep getting better.”

NAVIS Wind Safety

Simple, Standard Systems

NAVIS’ systems are affordable, easy to use, and accurate. Every system has two basic components: a sensor and a display.

“The sensor goes where the wind is, which is sometimes pretty hard to access,” said Loiselle, “but installation has never been easier.”

NAVIS and Bigfoot’s wireless sensors can be assembled and installed in seconds, thanks to a magnetic bracket. All sensors come with an optional attachment to gauge wind direction. The basic wireless sensor is compatible with any NAVIS display.

The variety comes mostly through different displays. After years of fine tuning, NAVIS displays offer options that make work easier and cater to particular needs.

Responsive, Agile Development

Every innovation has come from customer feedback. Whether it’s a hard-wired electrical connection, battery power, or some specific option, NAVIS can do it.

If you prefer to monitor data on a smartphone or tablet, that option is available through a Bluetooth connection. The app is free and easy to use. If a site prohibits smartphones, NAVIS has displays with radio connections.

Bigfoot now offers at least five NAVIS systems to meet the varied needs of customers in construction and other industries.

“As we worked with NAVIS to develop anemometers for cranes,” said Loiselle, “we realized the units are also useful for wind farms, film crews, artillery experts, sports stadiums, fountain displays, and even factories with smoke stacks — anyone affected by wind.”

Crane operators need immediate wind data so they can shut down their equipment as winds reach dangerous speeds. Other clients, like wind farms, need to study wind patterns over time in order to prepare proposals. That’s why different NAVIS systems from Bigfoot cater to the different needs.

NAVIS Wind Safety

Some displays have simple audio and visual alarms. Others can be programmed to shut off machinery or trigger an adaption.

For example, when the NAVIS system at a coal-burning factory in Saskatchewan detects that the wind is sending emissions toward the nearby town, it immediately triggers the factory to switch to cleaner-burning natural gas.

If the factory needed to produce a report on how often the wind triggered that action, the NAVIS system could record the data onto an SD card for downloading into a computer as a CSV file.

In the past year, NAVIS and Bigfoot added a new and important feature to the list…

Remote Real-Time Monitoring

Until late 2019, wind data was accessible only on site with NAVIS products. The sensor and display needed to be within range of a radio signal or Bluetooth connection.

The data could be logged, saved, and shared, but you couldn’t access it immediately from elsewhere. Then customers who had their safety officers in remote locations or who wanted to monitor multiple locations asked for a solution.

When NAVIS released its W410-XL in late 2019, it changed the game for wind safety.

“The XL does it all,” said Gerry Wiebe. “It has the sensor, display, smartphone capability, SD card storage, and now internet connectivity.”

Loiselle agreed, “They’ve made it so easy. An internet connection sends all the data to navis-livedata.com, and you can access your account from anywhere in the world at any time.”

Loiselle also said, “For a safety and study tool like this, it’s incredibly affordable.”

According to Wiebe, “It was already an award-winning system. Now, the internet connectivity takes it to a whole new playing field. The best system just got better.”

**This article was previously published in Crane Hotline, October 2020.

crane lifting safety tips

Wind is a major hazard when working at height, even on days that seem calm. Windy days can make working at height dangerous for everyone on the job-site.  Follow these best practices to ensure a safe job-site, no matter the weather.

#1: Keep Objects and Tools Secure

Be prepared by keeping objects and tools that are not in use well secured. Strong gusts can cause you to lose balance, blow tools and materials off of platforms, and weaken structures, so store materials and tools securely when not in use.

#2: Use a Wind Meter

General wind readings are usually taken at ground level and cover a large area, like a city or neighborhood. This makes them a useful tool for planning, but they don’t provide enough information to ensure safety on your job-site, especially when heights are involved. Wind speeds can increase by up to 50% at 20 meters above ground, which means a manageable breeze on the ground can translate to near gale force winds at height. Use one of our NAVIS wind meters to get accurate readings that reflect how your site is affected by gusts and how the surrounding buildings and landscapes are influencing wind currents.

#3: Don’t Underestimate Gusts

Even on calm days, gusts of wind are still hazardous, as they can come out of nowhere and travel up to two times faster than the average windspeed. Again, use a wind meter to monitor conditions, as you may need to quit working at height if gusts are too strong.

#4: Treat Flat Materials with Caution

Flat materials like sheets of plywood can easily turn into sails if hit by strong enough winds, and can drag people off heights or fall onto those working below. On windy or gusty days, make sure to carry flat materials horizontally in pairs and secure them tightly when not in use.

#5: Don’t React to Blowing Objects

Strong winds can blow away tools, hard hats, papers, and more, but at height it’s important to fight the immediate urge to catch blowing objects. It sounds counter-intuitive but reacting too quickly could cause you to lose your balance or could distract you from other hazards blowing toward you. If something begins to blow away, take a beat before retrieving it to ensure you can do so in a safe manner.

#6: Wear the right Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

The right PPE could make the difference between a close call and a trip to the hospital. Wear eye protection on breezy days to keep out dust and debris, and make sure your hard hat is securely fastened to keep it from blowing off your head.

#7: Wear a Harness

No matter how uncomfortable or cumbersome it is, always wear a harness at heights of 1.5 meters and above, as 30% of fatal falls happen at heights of two meters or lower, and 50% happen at three meters or less.

#8: Don’t Make Covers Without Holes

It may be tempting to create a sheltered area in windy conditions (especially if they’re coupled with cold weather) but like sheets of material, covers made of tarp or plywood can tear away whatever anchor or platform they’re attached to if caught by a strong enough wind. We don’t recommend making these kinds of shelters, but if you must make a cover for yourself, cut holes in it to allow the wind to pass through without carrying it away.

#9: Know When to Stop Working

Losing a day of work is manageable, losing a co-worker to injury or worse is not. Create a plan to deal with windy conditions. We recommend this guide: Wilkins Safety Group’s Beaufort Scale Safety Guide, which details the precautions that should be taken at various wind speeds. It’s an extremely helpful tool in creating a safe plan.

#10: Always Inspect Your Structures

Strong winds over extended periods of time can cause structures to weaken or lean at unsafe angles. Always check over scaffolding, platforms and their anchor points after a wind storm to ensure they are still secure to work on, and that nothing has shifted that will cause them to fall or collapse.

Click here to learn more about wind safety devices. 

Click here to download a copy of this post for your files.

hoist operator training vancouver

Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors needed to cut a 100-foot water tank, add a 40-foot extension, then put the suspended piece back on. For a company with more than 30 years of experience in constructing, installing, renovating and rebuilding large above-ground water tanks across the US, the project should have been routine.

It was anything but. Call it a perfect storm combining hazards and challenges that most project engineers do their best to avoid. “We were limited by sight constraints,” says Kurt Fuller, Engineer of Record for Phoenix. “Our three large cranes had limited mobility and were set up on a very tight work site. On top of that, we were directly adjacent to a community high school.”

To read the full case study, click here.

For more information about the NAVIS Anemometer systems, click here.

Windy smartphone anemometer

Safety is paramount on any production set and in an industry where getting just the right shot can make all the difference, that safety is even more critical when people and equipment are being lifted high in the air.

To read the full case study, click here.

For more information about the NAVIS Anemometer systems, click here.

Shooting Range Wind Sensor: Check & Mate

California’s Jim Ramsay entered the Extreme Benchrest competition as an amateur marksman but he finished it by besting the pros. His not-so-secret weapon? A shooting range wind sensor or more importantly, a Navis Wireless Wind Speed Sensor. Even more impressive was that it was his first time in competition and he had less than two months to practice.

What is Extreme Benchrest?

Extreme Benchrest is an annual rifle competition held in Arizona and hosted by Airguns of Arizona and the Phoenix Airgun Club. Benchrest refers to the gun sitting on a gun rest, meaning the operator isn’t standing or sitting, isolating all the variables. “The competition comes down to trigger control, breathing, gun performance and individual interaction with the gun,” says Jim. “The biggest factor is the wind.” In the competition, all participants qualify at 75 yards. Four relays are held, two for each category. The top ten from each round are chosen to compete on the final day of competition at 100 yards. The target consists of concentric circles, with the largest circle being 5.25 inches in diameter. The closer a participant is to the center (a bullseye roughly the size of an aspirin tablet), the higher the score.

Measuring Wind Speed

Up until now, measuring wind speed at a rifle competition was done mainly through the use of wind flags. This is a skill in itself since it takes a lot of training and experience to equate the flags to a miles per hour figure. “Ballistics programs take into account wind speed, miles per hour and wind direction,” says Jim. This calculates a wind adjustment value. Jim wanted to apply that same principle in the competition and began by looking for equipment measuring wind speed that would be used in construction. He wanted a wireless one for the shooting range so it could transmit data back to his smartphone. An online search turned up Navis along with the supplier, BigfootCrane. “Even from reading the brochure online, it seemed to be exactly what I needed so I got a system sent out to me.”

What Set Navis Apart

The most valuable part of the software, Jim says, is being able to see a running average with a history over the previous two minutes. This let him gauge where the averages were occurring. When it came to Extreme Benchrest, he was able to base his calculations on the average then adjust for that particular, which gave him a very qualified window of opportunity. “There was definite strategy involved. I could watch the running history to see much I had to adjust, just by using the sighters to see when the wind speed would return.” Jim figures he was the only person using the Navis Wind Speed Sensor technology at the competition. One competitor had a hand-held anemometer but it was mounted to his rifle scope, which meant he was measuring wind there rather than at the target. This would preclude him from being able to factor in other variables like speed or velocity. Jim set his Navis anemometer at the one-third mark, which is where he believed the most influential winds were located. “Ideally, you want to have the system close enough to accurately characterize wind environment but not next to the table where you’ll get disturbances as the wind flows around things.”

“The Navis Wireless Wind Speed Sensor performed even better than I expected, providing me with accurate real-time information right in the palm of my hand.”

Hitting the Mark

After the competition ended, Jim was asked if what he was using was a weather station. It only took a few minutes to explain what he had and how it worked. Not surprisingly, he ended up exchanging contact information with people who wanted to follow up with him at a later time. He noted that while several of the pros belong to an older demographic, there were younger members of the crowd who were only too eager to embrace the latest technology. “The Navis Wireless Wind Speed Sensor was a big hit with everyone but I really appreciated it at a completely different level because I hadn’t had time to fully train using the wind flag system.”

Focused on the 10-ring. Wind system visible downrange     Wind system with winning target and gold medal!

To read the full case study, click here.

For more information about the NAVIS Wireless Wind Speed Sensor, click here.