Electric Chain Hoists and ‘Inching’

mng11ckElectric Chain Hoists are generally very robust items of lifting machinery, designed to operate in an industrial environment. However, this doesn’t mean that they should be poorly maintained or misused. Such treatment will lead to breakdowns and deterioration of equipment condition rapidly. Just like any other tool or machine, you should care for them carefully.

Inching, what is it and how does it affect my hoist’s life span?

Often is the case with motorised chain hoists is that the user (usually due to inadequate training or failure to read operational instructions) will rig up the hoist and perform a lift, then, as the load is almost in place, in order to make small adjustments the operator will briefly continuously click the directional button which causes the hoist to only move a tiny amount as desired- less often is the case with a dual speed hoist (more about that below). This is known as ‘Inching’ or ‘Blipping’, although you get to make more precise operations this does have a negative effect on the life of the hoist motor. By inching the hoist you are constantly turning on and off the hoist motor, every time you click it is classed as a new start, this, in turn, draws more current known as ‘startup current’ which comes with heat, the more you inch, the more heat you pull into the motor which if performed often or for prolonged periods can cause the hoist or travel motor windings to burn out.

Although brief and occasional inching isn’t particularly frowned upon and in some cases cannot be avoided, this should not have a detrimental impact on the lifespan of the hoist motor, it is situations where startup current is frequently activated by inching that will shorten the lifespan of a motor. This can result in a very, very expensive repair bill, often is the case that changing a motor is beyond economical due to the simple fact that you are replacing the most expensive component in a hoist with the most intense refitting procedure- for example, some hoist bodies require a heat treatment to remove the motor as they are so tightly fitted.

Solutions to the problem:

Bar investing in a motor manufacturing plant, there are some easier and more cost effective solutions believe it or not! The only downside to these are that the solutions need to be considered when choosing the specification of a hoist, sadly it is usually complex and costly to implement the following to an existing hoist. Firstly, the most cost effective of the two is dual speed operation as I mentioned briefly above. Dual speed operation provides the user with two speeds of lifting, one slow ‘creeping speed and one fast ‘normal’ speed. Instead of inching at 4m/min the user can slightly let off the double pressure push button to activate the slow speed at 1m/min (speed figures are not the same on every hoist, but this is a common combination) this permits very small and slow movement instead of inching the hoist into place. The unfortunate side to this is that it is only available on three phase hoists, not in 230v or 110v models. Sometimes the operator will need to be even more precise and dual speed operation will still not suffice. This then leads to the second and more expensive option; frequency inverter control. In a nutshell a frequency inverter device when fitted to a hoist allows the fitter to programme it to control at really precise speeds which deliver a very smooth transition from speed to speed while giving super accurate positioning of loads, this feature is less common with standard Electric Chain Hoists and more common in wire rope hoist crane systems.

 

Lifting Gear Safety

It is important to always consider safety when using lifting equipment, when performing a heavy lift one should always perform a risk assessment before actually making a lift. Should you not be familiar with this your local rigging company should be able to assist you and advise you accordingly, obviously this can come at a price.

When working at height weather on a large rig or when using lifting gear one should always use height safety equipment to ensure total fall protection, there are lots and lots of companies out there that you can search for on the internet or even locally that offer everything you need in terms of Lifting Gear Safety.

How Do Machine Skates Work?

Machine Skates or sometimes referred to as Load Moving Skates are very easy to operate, they work by distributing the weight of the load up to 100 Tonnes over the surface of the skate, underneath the skates surface there are specially engineered castors or ball bearings that allow the skate to move and with some models, turn.

Most people use Toe Jacks or a Roller Crow Bar to lift the load or machine enough to slide a skate into place. Once the skate is in place the Jack or Crow Bar is lowered in order to release the load on to the skate for ease of transport.

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Most loads require three skates, two rear skates that connect via a bar to ensure they remain in line with each other and one front steerable skate which includes special steerable wheels to enable the load to travel around corners and be more manoeuvrable.

Machine Skates are used in a variety of other load moving applications such as for loading containers, machine movers can also move pallets and pallet boxes that are too heavy for standard pallet trucks!

Pallet Trucks- Making Life Easier

Hand operated or electric Pallet Trucks are perfect affordable handling solutions designed to make life easier by enabling you to lift and shift palletised loads up to 5 Tonnes.

Hand Pallet Trucks are operated by a steering lever that incorporates a release handle, the lever if pumped raises the truck forks in order to lift the load, pulling on the release handle slowly lowers the load. The truck is designed to be driven under a pallet and operated as above, the pallet can easily be pushed or pulled by hand once raised off the ground.

Manual trucks are ideal for transporting pallets around warehouses and for unloading loads from lorries with tail lifts. Before the new 2013 anti-dumping laws that raised taxes on Pallet Trucks up to almost 50% this type of truck could be considered disposable starting at prices little over £100 online, sadly this is no longer the case.

Electric Motorised Pallet Trucks are operated with ease featuring electrically assisted travel and steering operated from a handle similar to a hand pallet truck. These are often used to transport heavier loads or used when operation is intense so it becomes important to make things easier for workers as this often makes them more productive in the warehouse. Electric models are battery operated with a long battery life, most people use the trucks in the day and charge them overnight.

When used outside in the British summer (and obviously winter) pallet trucks can start to rust, for that there are a variety of corrosion resistant galvanised pallet trucks and for the food industry; Stainless Steel models are available as food can often be heavy to transport in bulk, supermarkets often used pallet trucks to unload pallets of meat and vegetables to save time and make life easier! A small addition goes a long way.

 

How Does It Work- Lifting Magnets

Permanent Lifting magnets are perfect ideal items of lifting gear that make lifting magnetic objects such as steel, easy.

An Eclipse Magnetics Ultra Lift Plus Lifting Magnet works with four safety features, the safety catch, the lifting eye, hand brake release and a ‘safety shim’.

The safety catch locks the handle in the ‘on’ position to ensure that the load remains secure once activated.

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The Lifting Eye is an additional safety catch, once tension is applied the mechanism locks the handle to prevent is from flicking backward and dropping the load. A hand brake release button is used to release the load, it can only be used when the magnet is not in operation due to the lifting eye and safety catch. This can easily be operated with one hand.

Lifting Magnets are a perfect alternative to big bulky chains and slings, no need to rig up your load, simply drop, load and go!

Firstly the load should be Pre-tested, this involves placing the safety shim on the load and lowering the lifting magnet in to place. The magnet is then switched on by rotating the handles 120 degrees anti clockwise.

To ensure the load is fully locked in place the user should check the handle is in position correctly and then lift the load a little just to check, if the load is secure with the safety shim in place a 3:1 safety factor is guaranteed by Eclipse!

To switch the magnet off the load must be returned to the floor, the safety catch and lifting eye prevent unintentional unloading of the magnet. The handbrake must be removed by clicking the top button on the handle (much like a car handbrake but you have to hold the button down) the user then has to push the handle back to release the load and let go of the button.

To now perform a lift using the lifting magnet the user should repeat the process without the use of a safety shim.