News | May 31, 2019

Army engineers tired of renting cranes so they invented this

Like all of the technologies featured here, this patent-pending invention can be licensed, then manufactured and sold by a private company

U.S. Army engineers watch as a crane lowers a section of roof to the 50-person pre-fabricated classroom they are constructing at Fort Dix.

Amber Hoy/Army

Two research engineers decided they could do lots of heavy construction lifting without a crane by inventing a unique forklift accessory.

The ingenious design by the Army Corps of Engineers’ Omar Esquilin-Mangual and Devin Sham allows a forklift to rapidly and accurately position large building components like 50-foot joists.

“Building with structural components of this size generally requires the use of cranes, according to the Army’s patent application that published Thursday.

“Typically, cranes must be rented at a cost of $12,000 to $20,000 per month and shipped to the site. Currently, the government faces a nation-wide shortage of cranes and direct economic competition with the private sector to rent this equipment.”

Colored patent illustration of the forklift accessory invented by Omar Esquila-Mangual and Devin Sham, research engineers the Army’s Engineering Research and Development Center in Mississippi. (Via USPTO patent application)

 

This can cause civilian and military construction projects to be delayed. The solution is to use forklifts, standard forklifts or big Army forklifts that can lift 10,000 pounds or more.

The attachment works by giving the forklifts four heavy-duty attachment points, which are spaced out far enough that they prevent the components from bending under their own weight when raised. The forklift accessory is made of steel tubing and weighs about 1,350 pounds. But it can lift objects up to 70-feet long and weighing up to 12,000 pounds.

In coordination with the Army’s technology transfer office, TechLink, the Department of Defense’s partnership intermediary, is helping private companies understand how they can manufacture and sell the invention as a new product.

Through licensing agreements, businesses can obtain rights to the Army’s intellectual property, a necessary step for those that would sell the new accessory.

Quinton King, senior technology manager at TechLink, has been helping the Army license its invention portfolio to capable industry partners for several years. He said the forklift accessory was an “exceptional” invention with great market potential.

“Thousands of forklifts are being sold every year and this invention expands their functionality without modifications,” King said. “And manufacturing it isn’t going to be super complicated for businesses with fabrication capabilities.”


Licensing-related inquiries can be directed to King at quinton.king@montana.edu or by telephone at 406-994-7795.