Whether it is manufacturing or construction, as a business owner, your primary goal is to complete each project on time and without any safety incidents. Probably the best way to avoid any untoward incident is to use the most suitable lifting or rigging equipment.
As lifting is one of the most complicated and risky operations, you need to be extra careful when selecting a hoist. A suitable hoist ensures increased safety and timely work completion. It also provides longer product life and lowers the chances of costly unplanned repairs. In other words, investing time and money in finding a suitable hoist pays for itself in the long run.
Let’s explore the factors you need to consider when choosing a hoist for your project.
1. Choose the Correct Type of Hoist
The first step is to select a hoist befitting your needs. There are four main types of hoists, and each one comes with its own set of pros and cons.
a. Manual Hoists
Manual hoists are the simplest and cheapest option available. They are also compact and lightweight, which means you can move or transport them easily. But, operating a manual hoist is quite laborious. You will need to pull the chain every time you use the hoist. So, it’s best to use this type of hoist occasionally.
Manual hoists have limited rated load capacity, usually no more than six tons. It is also risky to lift loads higher than six meters using a manual hoist. In short, these hoists are best suited for smaller loads, shorter lifting heights, and infrequent use.
b. Electric Hoists
A type of powered hoist, electric hoists are silent, durable, cost-effective, and have high load-carrying capacity. Most electric hoists come with adjustable speed and an emergency brake. The adjustable speed will vary from model to model. But, the basic variants usually have only slow and fast speed options.
You can use these hoists for lifting applications that require precision. However, electric hoists are not designed for continuous operation. Prolonged use can overheat the electric motor, causing it to burn.
c. Pneumatic Hoists
They are quite similar to electric hoists. But, instead of electricity, pneumatic hoists use compressed air as the power source. These hoists are suitable for continuous operation (more lifting cycles) and long lifts.
Pneumatic hoists come with varying speeds and are much faster than electric hoists. They are also quiet, durable, and provide high-precision lifting. But, the biggest advantage of pneumatic hoists is that you can use them in highly explosive areas. There is no risk of short circuit and consequent fire hazard as no electric current is involved.
However, you will need to clean the air filters regularly. Although they are dust and moisture-resistant, most pneumatic hoists may malfunction without regular maintenance.
d. Hydraulic Hoists
Hydraulic hoists need a suitable hydraulic power supply. They are best suited for lifting operations in extreme conditions, including areas with a high risk of explosion. They also have very high lifting power, allowing you to lift heavy loads with ease and precision. They run quietly and are durable. The only con is, they can be quite expensive.
2. Take the Rated Capacity Into Account
Rated capacity is another critical factor that you can’t ignore. Each hoist comes with a rated capacity. You will need to make sure that the load doesn’t exceed the rated capacity. Overloading not only leads to accidents but also reduces hoist life.
Apart from the hoist, you will also need to check the rated capacity of the support structure used to rig up the hoist. Usually, you can use an I-beam, gantry crane, or overhead crane to support the hoist. Make sure this structure is strong enough to support the load you want to lift.
3. Consider the Required Lift Height
In addition to the rated capacity, you also need to consider lift height. It is the maximum distance from the floor to the hook when the hoist is in the resting position. When it comes to lift height, you will need to consider the distance between the hook when it is raised and lowered.
You also need to think about the headroom, which is the distance between the hook when it’s raised and the hoist suspension. Finally, check the distance between the hoist suspension and the hook when it’s at the lowermost level.
4. Check the Type of Suspension You Will Use
The next factor you need to consider is the type of hoist suspension. Most manufacturers offer the following three hoist suspension options.
a. Hook Mounted
The hoist body comes with a hook, which you can attach to the crane or I-beam to suspend the hoist. You can get a rigid or a swivel hook system. The rigid hook system is better for applications where you need to keep your load stable. On the other hand, the swivel hook system is more suitable for applications that require rotational movement.
b. Lug Mounted
Sometimes, the hoist frame comes with a lug mounting. You can connect a lug-mounted hoist to a trolley, I-beam, or any other support structure. You will need to use suitable pins or studs to fasten the lug to the hoist securely.
c. Trolley Mounted
You can find hoists with an integral trolley. However, you can also connect a hook, clevis, or lug-mounted hoist to a trolley using suitable pins or studs.
Trolleys allow traverse motion on:
- Low-flange of a monorail beam.
- Low-flange bridge beam of an overhead crane.
- Top of the bridge beams of an overhead crane.
The three main types of trolley suspensions include plain trolleys, hand chain operated trolleys, and electrically or pneumatically powered trolleys. You can choose a trolley suspension based on your budget and requirements.
5. Understand How Fast You Will Operate the Hoist
Lifting speed is also a critical factor. In this case, the two important parameters you need to consider include:
- How far the load needs to travel? (lift distance or height)
- How quickly do you want to lift the load? (lift speed)
As you can see, a manual hoist will take a considerably longer time to lift and move the load. If you want to lift heavy loads quickly and over a long distance, you are better off using a powered hoist.
Moreover, higher speed is suitable where you have to complete more lifting cycles but require no precision. In other words, if you need high-precision lifting, go for a hoist with a lower speed.
6. Find Out What Power Source Is Available
Choosing the right power supply is also essential, especially when using electrical hoists. You will come across single or three-phase power supply options for electric hoists. Single-phase hoists are suitable for carrying lighter loads, while three-phase hoists can lift heavier weights. Most manufacturing and construction projects need three-phase electric hoists as the loads are often heavy. However, do check with experts how much power you need for safe hoisting.
7. Consider Safety Features
You must invest in hoists that meet the latest OSHA safety standards and also comply with ANSI specifications. However, you should also consider the following safety features, commonly found in almost all types of hoists.
a. Limit Switches
These switches warn you when operating a hoist is not safe. For example, some hoists have an upper limit switch, which blocks the load from running into the rigging. Similarly, a limit switch also warns you when the hoist reaches the bottom or top of the track.
b. Over-Speed Brakes
The purpose of an over-speed brake is to prevent the hoist from free-falling. It is essential to conduct a drop test periodically to ensure the over-speed brake is working. This is a critical safety measure.
c. Over-Load Sensors
The over-load sensor prevents the hoist (electric variant) from burning out. Your hoist can burn out in the following situations.
- When you try to lift a load heavier than the rated capacity.
- There is a sudden voltage drop or the hoist is running on lower voltage.
- When you use the hoist longer than the recommended number of lifting cycles.
8. Don’t Forget Your Budget
Finally, you also need to consider your budget. Manual hoists will be the cheapest available option. However, given their limited use, you will need to consider investing in a powered hoist, which will cost you a pretty penny. Plus, the cost will vary depending on the make and model, rated capacity, and other features.
However, you will have plenty of options. As this is going to be a substantial investment, you should consider long-term benefits. Invest in a hoist that will cater to your present as well as future lifting requirements.
It should also be durable and require lower maintenance. In short, do as much research as you can. Reach out to more than one dealer and compare the costs and products before making the final decision. If you have budget constraints, you can also try renting a suitable hoisting assembly.
Lifting heavy loads is perhaps the riskiest and most challenging step involved in most projects. But with the right type of hoists, it doesn’t have to be. Selecting a suitable hoist ensures efficiency as well as safety. Be sure to keep these eight tips in mind when looking for a hoist you need.
If you are looking for hoists or any other lifting or rigging equipment, HHI Lifting can help. We sell and rent different rigging hardware at reasonable rates. Call us today to find a suitable rigging product or service.