Chains of time

20 May 2021


Manufacturers are expanding their industrial hoists portfolio by introducing new series of products which are manufactured for particular usage. Jenny Eagle investigates.

Chains and manual hoists are used for lifting smaller loads rather than overhead cranes as they can be fixed into one position rather than mounted onto a runner or girders. They are often used for lifting and handling components and come in various types such as manual, electric and hydraulic and can be used with a rope, chain, cable, or wire, rather than ‘pick and place’ applications that overhead cranes are often used for.

We round up the latest chain hoist technology, as well as looking at new products and the trends that are driving developments, such as digitalisation (data transfer, real-time load monitoring and display), ease of maintenance (with features such as easy access to parts that need replacing regularly), and capacities getting larger, due in part to stronger, lighter chains.

According to Transparency Market Research (TMR), industrial hoists are expected to see an increasing demand in various industries due to their reliability, performance, and low failure rates.

Growing safety, quality, and service concerns related to lifting equipment will drive this market over the next ten years.

TMR claims in its report; ‘Electric Hoist Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2018 – 2028’, the growing number of manufacturing industries in various economies are likely to generate demand for high level material handling processes, which is anticipated to boost the industrial hoists market.

A thriving construction industry, the trend of shifting production facilities to developing nations, and a need for warehouses due to the growing popularity of e-commerce has led to global manufacturers entering local markets and selling their products. One example, in response to this, is Liftket based in Germany, which recently launched an Industrial Hoist Shop so that customers can order electric chain hoists for industrial applications online and configure their hoists from a large selection of additional options, by activating a user account on its website, available 24/7, in four languages, with a live chat and 2% online discount.

But with this growth in the market is a change in the cost of raw materials hampering the production cycle and overall costs. Socio-political and economic instability may also act as a restraint to the market. The maintenance of industrial hoists is also an important factor that customers need to consider including periodic maintenance to make sure it functions efficiently over time.

Reducing operating cost while increasing productivity and overall performance are key factors anticipated to influence the demand for industrial hoists and manufacturers are expanding their product portfolio by introducing new series of products which are manufactured for particular usage.

One such company looking to expand into other markets is Tiger Lifting UK. The company’s technical manager, Andy Sutherland, says while its CSS (Safety Screw Cam Clamp) is not a new product as such it is looking to push it out into other markets because it is suitable for other industries not just offshore.

“There’s been a lot of challenges caused by the covid pandemic both in the UK and on a global scale, we’ve been fortunate enough to be in a position where business has continued but with limitations and restrictions in place to protect everyone. Some of the key issues we have faced is trying to keep up with supply and demand and at the same time deal with logistics,” explains Sutherland.

“Within the industry, people are looking for upgrades, they want the equipment to be more protective and robust and as a whole, are always on the lookout for products to be improved and new technologies. Customers are always looking for safer and better products, but with that comes a cost factor.

“The CSS clamp is starting to gain traction where it has not been commonly seen in the past. It’s a versatile clamp that doesn’t fix to a beam typical of a heavy duty clamp but to the side of a flange. This gives the end user that versatility of being able to lift more objects, pulling activities, and lift sections of plate. A key safety factor of the design is on the clamp section itself where we have torque markers, where the operator doesn’t need to know what torque value that clamp has to be set to, he just tightens the clamp section onto a beam, and when the torque markers are fully aligned with each other he then knows that it is the appropriate torque level and will not dislodge itself. It’s a patented system, in that it’s the only one in the world that has this design, and makes the operation for the end user that little bit quicker and easier. So, with safety innovations you want the products to be more reliable and robust but also you want to find ways to make the job quicker for the end user without compromising safety.

“We see great success with the CSS clamp in the Scandinavian region at the moment, again in Australasia, South Korea and Singapore where the large ship building yards are, it’s a popular product but then we have to look at the UK sector, the North Sea, the offshore rigs, construction sites, the renewables sector, there are so many variant sectors and because it’s such a versatile clamp it doesn’t have to be restricted to one specific area.”

Sutherland adds, one of the main drives in the future will be ease of use and the safety of products, but challenges will come as technology improves, as the digital age advances, but there will always be a market for manual hoisting. “Certainly, in the current climate, budget will play a significant factor in project planning, and from a manual hoisting point of view, that will always provide a cost efficient means to do the job and when you compare that to pneumatic and electric systems that’s a significant increase in costs, whether that’s generators, or power backed up or the actual units themselves or fully automated systems, none of these will come in at the same cost as manual hoisting so for us it’s difficult to see a time when manual hoisting will become obsolete. At the end of the day everything has to get lifted into place by something,” he says.

“The difficulty is, everyone is used to the types of clamps they use but we are trying to break that mould and get away from tradition by offering something that’s different, that is more versatile. That’s the challenge we have, trying to break that norm to try something new instead of using a clamp or piece of equipment they have always used.”

One of its clients is an oil and gas company in Denmark, which orders the clamps in their hundreds for their offshore projects, supplied through its supply chain distributor, which is a key contract for Tiger Lifting and a major driver delivering that clamp to the marketplace. The company was open to using the clamp because it was similar to ones they had used before, sold in Scandinavia.

Sutherland says aside from offshore applications, the CSS could be used in the rail network sector and Tiger Lifting recently had a meeting with the stakeholders on the HS2 High Speed Rail Network project in Ryslip, UK, to discuss the versatility of its clamps.

It also launched some new product lines and upgrades last year including its TAH21 Air Hoists and ULT series hoists, designed for mining, industrial and general engineering applications where headroom is limited such as locomotive battery bays, pump chambers and underground workshops.

The industrial air hoists are also used in shipyards, offshore construction, power stations, automotive plants, foundries, and heat treatment plants. The hoists operate at air pressures of between 4 and 6 bar and comply with the requirements of ASME B30.16 and EN14492-2.

OFFSHORE PROJECTS

EMM, one of the largest manufacturers of bespoke rigging in Europe, recently supplied Allseas with some new Tiger 5t single fall air hoists accompanied with beam clamps and chain hoists for the major decommissioning preparations for the removal of two gas production platforms in Morecambe Bay, UK.

The South Morecambe field was discovered in 1974 and commenced production in 1985; it extends over license blocks 110/2a and 110/3a on the UK Continental Shelf. DP3 and DP4 each comprise six wells and a single installation connected via two pipelines (24” and 2” nominal bore) to the Central Processing Platform CPP1.

The DP3 and DP4 installations and pipelines are operated by Spirit Energy Production UK Limited. They were installed in 1985 and are normally unattended installations (NUIs) supported by four leg steel jackets in 22m - 25m water depth.

As production is in decline and design capacity is significantly above current production rates there is a focus on ensuring that the South Morecambe field continues to maximise economic recovery of the remaining reserves. As a result, a series of simplification projects are taking place to reduce operational expenditure, reduce maintenance and integrity burden and to optimise facilities. As part of this strategy, the decision has been made to decommission the DP3 and DP4 installations and infrastructure.

The scope of work with Tiger Lifting includes; engineering, preparation, singlelift removal and disposal of DP3 and DP4 platforms (6760-t topsides and 2700-t jackets); design, fabrication and installation of lifting aids (horseshoes), reinforcements, lift points, grillage and sea-fastening; platform preparations (including cutting and removal of risers, caissons and conductors, cutting of platform legs and strengthening of topsides) and removal and disposal of subsea infrastructure (mattresses, spools, cables, umbilicals and anti-scour frames).

Despite the pandemic, Irizar Forge faced one of its biggest challenges last year, delivering a SWL 1000t hook block to be installed in the DLV-2000 pipe layer vessel, a pipe layer built in 2016 currently sailing under the flag of Panama and a major offshore project. The DLV-2000 vessel is used for installing large subsea spools, laying infield umbilical and lifting subsea distribution units.

Maria Lasa Irizar, sales and managing director, Irizar Forge, says 2020 was ‘a strange year in all respects’. The global pandemic disrupted normal activity at the company and it was forced to explore new communication channels.

“To be open minded and think out of the box is essential. The company I lead is 100-years-old and we always need to look forward even if there are difficulties. We have a great team behind the scenes which is necessary to produce excellent products, maintain operations and quality management. The players we contact are willing to see safety-related cost-efficient products. Safety is not about pricing, it is about getting to market optimal solutions with safety as a first priority,” she says.

“We try to be as efficient as possible, using less raw materials with smart processing to be sustainable as a company, having as a result eco-friendly products. Also, product lifecycle is increasing thanks to new forging technologies; additionally, product surface quality has improved exponentially over the last ten years and maintenance cost has been reduced drastically having as a result a longer timespan for replacements.

“In the future, we foresee smarter products which are ergonomically designed, slimer and even safer to use with a strong focus on comfort, as well as being digitally connected to the operator using the latest technologies for a predictable maintenance upkeep and failsafe protection against any accidents.

“Even if in the last 20 years safety awareness has increased significantly, we still see there is a lot to do in emerging countries. Not just safety related routines limited to handling or lifting operations, but from a design, technological, materials research and maintenance perspective.”

DIGITILISATION

Steven Hong, president of Taiwanbased manufacturer of lifting and safety components Yoke Industrial Corporation says 2021 will be the breakthrough year for RFID/NFC technology and in response to the focus on digitalisation it has launched a new technology for chain hoists called the SupraTag, ‘Tech for Safety’.

The Yoke SupraTag digital platform means manufacturers can keep all their digital documents, standards, and pre-use guidance in one place, the equipment is safe and suitable for service; safe use instructions are available to every user who handles the equipment, which is fitted with the SupraTag or embedded chip and the equipment is in an up-to-date, reliable condition and has been inspected and thoroughly examined so it is ready to use.

“We know there have been many false starts for RFID/NFC technology, but we believe with the launch of the Yoke SupraTag and the associated software platform Ri Connect, Yoke will firmly see Tech for Safety overtake anything previously seen on the market,” he says.

For the past two years Yoke has been embedding RFID chips into all of its YP lifting point, insulated swivels and pledges to continue to extend this feature into its other forged lifting components.

“This industry contains some of the most enquiring and technically excellent minds, and we see 2021 being the year that they get their wish to digitalise their inspection management systems” adds Hong.

“The lifting industry is a very mature market and conservative to adopt new technology, many have tried and failed due to a too narrow approach, bespoke systems and high-cost hardware, the SupraTag is the key to opening the door on digital technology desired by many of our global partners and all other manufacturers.”

According to Hong, current legislation is risk-based, because it often uses inadequate paper-based lifting planning systems, which is not always available to the actual user. Safe use instructions are either stored away from the workplace, or in an office, and pre-use inspection knowledge travels in the hands of the few not the many. He says SupraTag will put all this information into the hands of every user, by way of their smart phone, laptop or other device.

“This will help not only all manufacturers of lifting equipment digitalise their information required by their customer, but also help other responsible persons to comply with HSE, LOLER, ASME and other global legislation to ensure the equipment is not only in good condition, but that it can be inspected prior to being used to carry out a critical lift,” says Hong.

“It is often difficult or time consuming to ensure all lifting equipment put into service for the first time, or during its lifetime has the correct documentation and safe use instructions, certification and pre use inspection records available at the point of use. The SupraTag allows this to happen, and it’s surprising no one has been able to offer this to the millions of people who handle critical and potentially dangerous lifting equipment each day.”

Another company introducing technology to meet current market demands is Kito, which has launched the Kito Electric Chain Balancer, which is a chain hoist which generates power balanced with the weight of the load, allowing an operator to hold the load with two hands and apply light force for fine positioning and horizontal insertion of a part. The product has two modes of operation; a float mode, which allows the operator to position the load by holding it in two hands, ideal for assembly and cylinder mode, or in sync with the operator's hand motion, for fine positioning.

The electric chain balancer combines Kito technologies and years of knowledge built over decades of chain-hoist development. With a built-in control, it responds quickly to the operator's motion while being highly durable and easy to operate for the end user.

"Visualization in factory operations is a trendy concept today. Connecting production machines and highperformance computers, it allows manufacturers and operators to see at a glance which machine was used in what way. The same goes for hoists and cranes. Soon it will be taken for granted that positioning anything to be assembled will be decided automatically, and the operation will be monitored in real time. For its network connectivity, this balancer has a pioneering role in that," says Kazuhiro Nishikawa, product developer, Kito.

Kito Corporation began accepting orders for its new 75kg and 250kg model of the Kito Electric Chain Balancer, from April this year in Japan.

PRODUCT REDESIGN

Columbus McKinnon Corporation (CMCO) recently made some modifications to its chain hoist portfolio, including its CM Series 653 ratchet lever hoist, which has been redesigned to be lighter and more compact for ease of use and for even lower headroom applications.

With a shorter handle length and optimized weight, the CM Series provides a safer and more comfortable grip and is secured from sliding.

On selecting a manual chain hoist, Joe Runyon, vertical market specialist, Oil & Gas, CMCO, explains that the rated capacity of the hoist should be at least as high as the weight of the heaviest load to be lifted and no higher than the rated capacity of the pad eye, monorail system or other overhead structure from which the hoist will be suspended.

When determining the capacity requirement for an electric or pneumatic hoist the manufacturer must not only consider the weight of the heaviest load to be lifted but determine the Mean Effective Load (MEL) and apply the MEL factor of .65.

“Manual hand chain hoists have the lowest purchase price, making them ideal for applications involving temporary or infrequent use, low capacities, short lift height and when power sources are not available. Electric and pneumatic hoists offer faster lifting speeds, are more ergonomic and are better suited than manual hoists for heavy-duty cycles, high capacities and long lifts and Air hoists require a substantial volume of compressed air for operation and are often used for applications involving long lifts or high duty cycles and in areas where electric power is impractical or unavailable,” says Runyon.

“Electric hoists can have a lower purchase price than pneumatic hoists. They do not require the purchase and installation of an air compressor and are normally quieter than air hoists to operate. If suitable electric power is available, electric hoists are selected more often than pneumatic for most general lifting applications. Electric hoists can also be equipped with special motors and controls to make them suitable for use in designated hazardous areas.”

For more information, the American Society of Engineers (ASME) and The Hoist Manufacturer’s Institute (HMI) have developed and published standards for hoists, including hoist duty ratings. These duty classifications are based on factors, including the number of lifts performed per hour over a given work period, the average and maximum load lifted, the frequency at which the maximum load is lifted, the average distance the load is raised and lowered, and the maximum number of stops and starts per hour.

Hooks made by Irizar Forge
Yoke says 2021 will be the breakthrough year for RFID/NFC technology
Kito has launched the Kito Electric Chain Balancer
Tiger Lifting CSS clamp
CMCO CM Series 653 ratchet lever hoist
Tiger products supplied to Allseas by EMM for the removal of gas production platforms
Irizar Forge provides smart offshore lifting solutions