Below the hook: Turning point

17 March 2023

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Special below-the-hook tools are available to rotate your load safely and efficiently in the air, says Sean Powers, Posi-Turner applications specialist, The Caldwell Group

Think about the way we manipulate items we pick up with our hands before the moment we put them down or place them into another object. A piece of bread is flipped and rotated numerous times before it is placed into the toaster and then removed for buttering.

The concept is often the same in industry. Take lumber facilities, for example. Many need the ability to flip panels utilising electric overhead travelling (EOT) cranes, say, from conveying systems en route to computer numerical control (CNC) decks, before they are flipped again when work is complete. It really is like moving giant slices of bread.

There are similar scenarios in precast, marine, aerospace, automotive, general manufacturing, and countless other industries, where lifting a load straight up, moving it level through the air, and putting it straight down doesn’t meet the application requirements. Many situations require manipulation of the load, such as servicing a product, orientation for shipment, or preparation for installation. It is often the case that these loads are bulky, awkward, and present challenges associated with off-centres of gravity. Lifting simple, rectangular loads, is not often a real-world occurrence.

A solution isn’t always known to these end users, meaning bad practice endures. We continue to see people rigging loads with a crane or hoist that creates sideloading, which deteriorates the crane system, leading to costly downtime and maintenance. Manually handling an item or an offset centre-of-gravity load can be dangerous too.

There are solutions. Take the Posi- Turner – available in capacities ranging from 500lbs to 110,000lbs – which is designed to rotate bulky and hard-to handle objects during manufacturing or assembly processes. This type of product is often operated beneath cranes but eliminate the need to side-load because they load directly below-the-hook. They give the user complete control of the piece being rotated, which isn’t possible when side-loading or manual handling. The gear reduction and electric brake motors allow a user to stop and start rotation at any time during the process without back driving. These solutions are available as standard and custom options.

Of course, as is the case with any below the- hook solution, rotation devices are only as safe as the overhead lifting equipment they work in tandem with. We always recommend that cranes, hoists and rigging hardware are maintained above relevant standards to assure that any ancillary attachment or lifter can be operated properly and safely.

Installation is important too. Most are supplied as plug-and-play systems, operated by pendant, remote control or through the crane controls. They can be moved by crane; fork truck, utilising fork pockets; and carts with casters.

Manufacturers, such as Caldwell, continue to invest a lot of time on outreach campaigns, often delivered via channel partners, to make sure that the right tool is used for each material handling or lifting process. If these applications require rotation or manipulation of the load, then specific below-the-hook tooling is required to do so efficiently and safely.

Remember, it’s not a case of whether a user can afford to invest in such equipment or not. First, they must determine overall if they can afford not to consider the value of safety and damagefree material handling.

Some lifters are specially designed to turn loads in the air, preventing damage that might occur if they were ‘set down’
Some lifters are specially designed to turn loads in the air, preventing damage that might occur if they were ‘set down’
Some lifters are specially designed to turn loads in the air, preventing damage that might occur if they were ‘set down’