Derick Markwell


Managing Director, TENSA Equipment; BE (Civil), University of Queensland

There are an average of three fatalities from crane accidents in Australia every year, as well as many more injuries and near misses to people in the vicinity of crane loads.

To address the issue, Derick Markwell and his team developed Roborigger, a crane device that allows riggers to orient and rotate loads from a safe distance.

Roborigger attaches at the end of a crane hook and uses gyroscopic and inertial forces to accurately rotate and orient crane loads, removing the need for workers to be in the vicinity of the load during the potentially dangerous orientating and lowering phases. Its wireless release hook prevents accidental release of loads through a three-factor process. It also features an in-built camera and load cell.

"Roborigger allows the lifted loads to be oriented and disconnected remotely so people don’t need to be in the vicinity of the loads."

It was for offshore wind projects that Markwell first recognised the need for Roborigger. At first, he said, he thought the problem was keeping turbine blades stationary in the North Sea. But as he and his team spoke to more people, they realised there were more pertinent issues closer to home.

“We knew we had to find a way to keep people away from the loads,” Markwell said.

Their focus moved to the tower crane market, which faces significant safety and operational issues from hard-to-control loads spinning in the wind.

Throughout the device’s development and commercial deployment, Markwell and his team have collaborated directly with end users. The project gained industry recognition after being awarded National Energy Resources Australia’s Innovation Vouchers program and was granted the Innovation Connections grant for its collaboration with Curtin University.

In 2017, TENSA entered into a development agreement with Multiplex to develop and trial Roborigger at their construction sites.

Over the past year, TENSA has tested and refined Roborigger, and, since December 2018, it has been used commercially on a major Perth construction site.

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