Friday, October 4, 2013

What Do I Need to Know Before I Buy a Chain Hoist?



There are many advantages to purchasing a chain hoist.  They are low maintenance, lower cost than wire rope hoist, and they are lightweight. Having a lightweight hoist enables the owner to easily relocate equipment when needed. Typically, facilities that often move a process frequently or they install a crane system for a process that will be used temporarily, the chain hoist is the best choice because it can easily be moved from one location to another.
Many people think a chain hoist is a commodity item and lowest cost is the best choice. People will purchase a chain hoist based on price not realizing that many things can go wrong with a chain hoist if it is used in the wrong application, or exposed to an environment that it was not designed for. Or perhaps they purchased a chain hoist not realizing the warranty was too limited to even be considered a warranty by anyone's standards. There are several factors to consider prior to your investment. I have come up with several questions to ask yourself prior to purchasing a chain hoist. These questions will help you pick the best hoist for your needs.
There is no such a thing as a hoist that fits every application. Every hoist is designed to fit within the parameters of a certain application. I have seen time and time again where companies will purchase a hoist and use the same hoist for several different applications throughout their facility. The hoist may last for a while but in the wrong application your hoist can wear faster causing production and safety issues. Many people do not know what they should be looking for when they purchase a chain hoist.

When you are in the market for a chain hoist you need to ask yourself these eight questions…

What is the application?

What are you going to be lifting with the hoist? Are you using it to assemble a product and precision is required? Are you using below the hook devices for this application? These questions allows you to decide if a chain hoist is the right tool for the job. Depending on the application, different duty cycles, and capacities may be required.


What is the environment the hoist will be used in? (hot, cold, caustic, outside, inside)

  • The environment a hoist is being used in is detrimental to the life of the hoist. Hoist have a duty cycle within certain temperature parameters.
  • High heat areas can cause the hoist to malfunction, and in many cases cause gearbox leakage.
  • Extreme cold temperature can cause casing cracks, and seized components.
  •  Extreme changing temperatures can cause condensation in the electrical panel if the wrong hoist is used causing components to short out.
  • Is the hoist going to be inside or outside? If the hoist is exposed to the elements of the weather then this will greatly affect the life of the hoist if you don’t have the right hoist.


What is the duty cycle required?

How often will the hoist be running per day?
How long does one cycle of the hoist last during its use?
Many chain hoists cannot dissipate the heat from the motors so the duty cycle is very important to consider prior to purchase.


What is the weight of what you are lifting?
  • The weight of what you are lifting is vital to the decision of what type of hoist you invest in.
  • Don’t forget to include the weight of any below the hook device that you will be using for this application.
  • Pick a hoist with a greater capacity than what you are picking up. Just because you are lifting 500 lbs does not mean you need a 500 lb capacity hoist. The duty cycle will also play an important part in this decision. If you are picking up 500 lbs every pick the hoist will do during its cycle then you should consider getting a larger capacity hoist to reduce wear and tear on your equipment.
Most chain hoist can only go up to 5 ton capacity.Over five tons you should consider a wire rope hoist. Some manufacturers will design a double hoist unit that combines two hoists together and the capacity can be increased to 10 ton, but should only be used in certain applications.

How high do you need to go?

  • Remember unlike a wire rope that spools the excess wire rope not being used, the chain hoist has a chain container to catch the excess chain. The greater the height then the bigger the chain container will be. If it is too big it may be an obstruction of what you are lifting if it is required to go close to the hoist.If it is over 30 feet of chain that will be needed then you will also need to think about the duty cycle and speed of the hoist.  There are Windmill Hoist on the market that allows for low capacity, high lifting speeds, with high allowable height of lift.
  • The distance from the top hook to the bottom hook when the bottom hook is at it's up-most point needs to be taken into account as well. You will need to ensure you have enough height for your application using that dimension.

What is the voltage available for the hoist?

Higher duty cycle hoist will not run off of single phase voltage. You will need to purchase a three phase hoist so make sure you have enough power in the building for your hoist.
If you are considering purchasing a single phase hoist, make sure it is for a low duty cycle application.





What safety features do I need to be aware of? 

There are many safety features that you should think about having for your hoist. Again the application will be dependent upon what type of safety features you should have for your hoist.
  • All chain hoist should be purchased with a load limiter or internal clutch that does not allow for severe overloading. This will be safer for your operators that will help prevent overloading causing severe wear, or even worse someone getting hurt. Overloading is easily preventable.
  • Ensure that you have upper and lower limit switches. This prevents the chain from falling out of the hoist or the hoist two-blocking and getting the load stuck or in the air.
  • If you have a motorized trolley on the hoist you should think about travel limits. Travel limits will prevent the hoist from slamming into your end stops increasing the life of your hoist.
  • Self Adjusting brakes is a great safety feature that also lowers your cost of maintenance
  • Motor Thermal Overload features prevents the hoist from overheating


What is the warranty and what does it cover?

Purchasing a hoist out of a catalog because it is economical is not always your best deal. Warranty needs to be considered because it can help you down the road immensely. Don’t just look for a warranty length either. Read the fine print. There are chain hoist manufacturers that will provide you with a lifetime warranty on their equipment. But if you read that fine print, that lifetime warranty only applies to certain components of the hoist, and typically does not include labor to repair it. Find a dealer who is nearby that can easily service the hoist, and pick a hoist that has a solid warranty with labor included. Labor typically will cost you more than the parts so it is very important you look for this.


Once you have answered all these questions you should be able to pick out the hoist that is right for you and will provide the best return on investment. It is a good idea to include your overhead crane service provider to help you with making the right choice in your investment. Don't go it alone, find a provider who is willing to partner with you and provide free consultations on projects no matter how small. 









                                  





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