National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Columbus McKinnon

March 27, 2017

Getting the Right Solution

Not long ago, a company that’s been around for 140 years got help from an unexpected source.

Columbus McKinnon (CMCO) designs and manufactures handling systems and services that move, lift, position, or secure material. Some of their key products are hoists used in commercial and industrial applications requiring safety and durability, even at extreme temperatures.

Frank Restaino, CMCO Technical Lead for Wire Rope Hoists, wanted to test one of his products. Before the product could be marketed to customers, it required testing to qualify for use at extremely cold temperatures.

NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland, OH, and MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network (MAGNET) in northeast Ohio, teamed to hold a “Technology Roadshow” at a local college. The “Roadshow” is one way that NASA’s Regional Economic Development (RED) Program has been helping to foster economic growth in the U.S.

Both GRC and MAGNET are interested in helping regional manufacturers overcome their technical issues and grow their businesses. By doing so, the region prospers. In addition, NASA gains a better understanding of the technical issues faced by American manufacturers.

Prior to the event, GRC and MAGNET do their homework on the companies that apply to attend. This gives them a better understanding of the companies’ technic

al needs in order to have the right expertise on hand.

According to Laurie Stauber, Senior Program Specialist for RED at GRC, “We review the applications to make sure that there is a good fit with our core competencies. Sometimes we refer the company to outside organizations if we don’t have that particular skill set.

Sheri Beam
NASA Regional Economic Development Program


“To find the best subject matter expert in our Engineering and Research Directorate, I work with the associate director from that group and use my experience in commercialization to know where the best fit lies at GRC.”

During the event, Restaino was able to meet one such expert in materials testing.

“We participated in the road show because of the chance to discuss materials in a cold temperature environment.”

Brad Lerch, Senior Research Materials Engineer, works in the High Temperature and Smart Alloys Branch at NASA GRC.

“I operate a testing lab where we conduct coupon level tests on various materials . . . testing at temperatures from cryo (-196º C, or -321º F) to very high temperatures (1500º C, or 2,732º F). We also span ranges of test times from one second to multiple years.”

After their meeting, CMCO had a better understanding of what to do. Restaino and his team, Paul Harless, Jason Clarke, Wolfram Schneebeck, and Jane Lou, modified some of the components in the CM product.

“Our meeting with the NASA expert was crucial to our understanding the testing requirements at such low temperatures and what type of testing to perform. We performed additional cold temperature testing to help prove our hoist design for use in a cold temperature environment.”

Lerch enjoys working with a company and finding solutions to their problems and CMCO was no exception.

“For most of the Roadshow events I prepare by reviewing the literature on applicable subjects and am learning new material with each event. I also get a good feeling about helping local business, improving the local economy.

“I helped guide CMCO through a possible testing certification program to permit usage of their product in subzero climates.”

For Restaino and his team, attending the NASA RED Roadshow was the help they needed.

“As a result of the show, we had a clear path to the type of testing we needed to perform which consisted of a short week endurance test and then impact testing. Long term, we plan to release product for low temperature environments.”