Off-the-shelf attachments are reducing the cost of lifting systems. Katherine Crichton reports.
IN the past when a manufacturer wanted to install a crane or lifting system they would have to get the attachment custom designed and engineered.
This would often cost both time and money as engineers would have to work to a new design, and frequently once the attachment (or interface) was integrated into the lifting system, users would find it didn’t work according to specification.
Today, attachments have become much more sophisticated, functional and widely available. Lindsay Wakefield, MD of Safetech, says an example of this can be seen with modern vacuum lifts.
“Developments in vacuum cup technology is enabling these devices to pick up things that they couldn’t previously.”
Wakefield attributes the increased efficiency of attachments to their availability rather than to a particular breakthrough in design technology.
“Over time, engineers have developed a wide range of attachments that are now available off the shelf. <[ql]>
“These are tried, tested and proven to work in real-world lifting applications.
“As the library of off the shelf attachments is getting bigger, it is becoming far more likely that your problem has been solved by someone else,” Wakefield told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
While having off the shelf attachments is speeding up the implementation process, Wakefield warns against pick and choosing lifting components from several different companies to try and reduce the cost of installing a lifting system.
“A company shouldn’t get a crane from there and a hoist from another place and an attachment from somewhere else, they should get someone that can provide the whole solution and knows what they are doing.
“To do it safely and efficiently, you need to find an integrator who knows what they are doing and can do the whole package for you,” he said.
When looking at implementing a lifting system, Wakefield advises companies to get their staff involved.
“They’re the one’s that are going to be using the equipment, so they need to be able to like what they are using.
“You will need to fine tune the lifting system so you want to know you have a company that will work with you and help you do this,” Wakefield said.
With more attachments now available, choosing the correct one makes it all the more important.
Steve Purves, technical support manager with Pacific Hoists, says as well as correct implementation, choosing the right equipment is essential in protecting employees from the physical dangers inherent in lifting.
“Correct specification is not just a safety issue; an inappropriate choice is likely to result in unsatisfactory performance and a poor return on investment.”
Purves explained to Manufacturers’ Monthly that selecting the attachment starts with a comprehensive assessment of the lifting operations concerned.
“This includes the size and nature of loads, the distance and plane of movement required, the accuracy with which the loads must be positioned, the frequency of the operation in the short and long term, the need for a suspension point/structure, the headroom and working space available, the siting – indoors or out, and the availability of electrical and/or compressed air supplies.
“Hostile or contaminated atmospheres must always be taken into account. Cost will inevitably play an important role too and the possibility of short-term hire should not be overlooked.”
“To ensure safe operation, the equipment must be suited for the purpose intended and that includes not just the weight of the load but its shape, flexibility, strength, porosity, temperature, available lifting points, the height of lift and degree of movement to be carried out,” he said.
According to Purves, some of the key challenges associated with choosing correct attachments include entrapment, safe access and egress to the actual load needed to be attached or detached from the crane.
“For example, lifting slings are without doubt the most versatile means of connecting a load to the lifting machine.
“Part of the skill in selecting the right sling or slings for the job includes making obvious decision such as lifting capacity, the number of legs required and how the sling is to be attached to the load.
“However before doing it is important to have an understanding of the fundamental characteristics of the various types of slings generally available.
“Therefore I strongly recommend that the user always ensures that the slings (or any attachment) they use comply with recognised lifting sling standards,” Purves said.
Pacific Hoists 02 8825 6900.
Safetech 1800 674 566.