Getting to grips

31 March 2021


Demand for speed & safety in critical lifting equipment is on the rise and while some projects have been put on hold due to coronavirus, the renewables sector is growing. Jenny Eagle investigates

The lifting attachments industry has seen an increase in demand for hoisting, chain sling systems and self-locking safety hooks and while projects in the offshore sector have been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, demand for safety critical lifting equipment within the renewables sector is growing says William Hackett.

Electricity-producing assets like wind and solar projects are still generating yield today but according to Gorbel we will see a shift to more flexible technology that utilises less people and the expansion of work areas due to social distancing guidelines. In adherence with the need for speed and safety, Combilift talks about why it expanded its Combi-SC Straddle Carrier range, with the Combi-IMSC Intermodal Straddle Carrier and CODIPRO (part of ALIPA) has launched a swivel lifting ring range: the QLR (Quick Lift Ring) for fast anchoring.

William Hackett is a manufacturer of below the hook lifting equipment and supplies products globally across several different sectors. “Last year we witnessed a dip in the UK market with many industries coming to a standstill due to Covid-19. International trade has continued to grow despite many projects in the offshore sector being delayed.

We are now noticing an increase to the UK market as many businesses have adopted new ways of working.

Furthermore, the renewables industry is continuing to grow and with increased backing from UK government more UK projects are being commissioned therefore, the demand for safety critical lifting equipment within this sector is increasing,” says Rod Bell, technical and operations director, William Hackett Lifting Products.

According to the UK Financial Times, renewable energy is one of the few sectors that has managed to weather the devastating effects of coronavirus, with new deals and new records being struck, even while the rest of the world has been grappling with the pandemic.

For example, Abu Dhabi Power Corporation (ADPower) says it has secured the world’s lowest tariff for a solar power plant, as it moves ahead with a planned 2GW solar photovoltaic (PV) project in the Al Dhafra region of the Emirate. The utility says it has received a bid of 1.35 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the large scale project.

The Al Dhafra scheme is set to be one of the largest solar PV plants in the world once it is completed by mid-2022. Abu Dhabi is already home to one very large plant, the 1.2GW Noor Abu Dhabi, which started commercial operations in April 2019. Once operational, the Al Dhafra solar plant will produce enough power for approximately 160,000 households, says ADPower, which will reduce the emirate’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tons a year.

Dubai will also complete the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Q3, 2021, said to have the largest energy storage capacity in the world of 15 hours, to provide clean energy for 320,000 residences, and reduce 1.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year. The mega solar park is being built by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). BloombergNEF, research group, claims renewables are now the cheapest source of new electricity for more than two-thirds of the world’s population.

In other sectors, William Hackett Lifting Products has strived to produce a range of DA Offshore Swivel Self Locking Hooks to meet the arduous working conditions of the offshore environment.

“With regards to product categories, we have seen an increase in demand for hoisting, chain sling systems, and more recently Yoke DA self-locking hooks. The DA range of offshore self-locking hooks have been awarded type approval by DNV-GL – DNV-GL-ST-0378, certificate no. TAS000011K as well as complying with international standard NORSOK R-002:2017. These sophisticated hooks are widely used within the oil and gas industry for crane pennants,” adds Bell.

“The focus on safer lifting appliances has led William Hackett to design and manufacture a load attachment product that is designed for offshore and marine environments. These were originally intended for onshore lifting applications and were often fitted with a 12.9 or higher tensile bolt. However, there have been recent failures due to hydrogen embrittlement which was the basis of WHLP’s Offshore Swivel Hoist Ring with a UK manufactured L7 bolt. These have now been deployed through our distributors to offshore contractors around the world.”

Enhanced Production Efficiency

Gorbel G-Force and Easy Arm are high speed, high precision, intelligent lifting devices that often require end tooling to complete a total solution that will grip, lift, move, lower and release a load.

“Gorbel’s global mission is that ‘we improve people’s lives.’ We do this through products that offer enhanced production efficiency, increased profitability through cost reduction, and improved ergonomics and safety in a variety of industrial settings. Whether you’re moving 50lbs in like a highly repetitive task or you’re trying to move 40 ton across the factory floor, Gorbel manufacturers a range of ceiling and floor mounted cranes to meet those needs,” says Pooja Sinha, product marketing manager, Gorbel.

“We specialize in workstation cranes, a variety of jib and gantry cranes and as heavy-duty patented track cranes under our Cleveland Train rail line. Not only do we manufacture the crane structure, but we also have an extensive line of lifting devices as well, so we have our chain hoist line that allows users to move one. Our intelligent lifting device called G-Force, allows precision control of products and parts. Basically, the G-Force has the ability to essentially unweight whatever product you’re trying to lift. It eliminates cost of damaged goods and supports ergonomic lifting and safety for your employees.”

Sinha believes one of the greatest challenges facing manufacturing today is the shortage of skilled labour. Many potential employees understand the inherent risks associated with jobs that require heavy load manipulation and repetitive motions, those employees are going to be more attracted to a company that is keeping their safety in mind and utilizing technology that’s going to make those jobs. easier and safer. This enables people in positions on factory floors or heavy manufacturing to go home and have the energy and ability to play with their children or lead active lives outside of work without muscle strain from long days of repetitive motions and heavy lifting.

“Gorbel’s product line is built upon allowing operators to move material ergonomically, reducing strain and fatigue, which in turns enables them to be productive in a safe environment.

In addition, Hoist, G-Force and Crane installations are highly flexible. They can adapt to changes in workflow, factory layout and then changes with the product themselves. You can update or expand your operation to do more which will be more productive with the same workforce,” she adds.

“We are seeing a trend within the industry where there’s a lot of competitive pressure right now.

Customers are constantly demanding lower costs and with the age of instant gratification customer service expectations are very high.

“Owing to Covid-19 we’re probably going to see a shift to more flexible solutions that utilize less people and the expansion of work areas due to social distancing guidelines. That’s the nice thing about our systems is operational flexibility. You can purchase one of our lifting devices as needed and add on to it in the future. We’re enabling companies to operate safely by maintaining social distancing. On a factory floor, for example, by utilizing an overhead material handling system along with one of our lifting devices (hoists or G-Force) factories can now reduce team lifts and highly manual operations by safely making them a one person job.”

Combilift Straddle Carriers

Combilift’s Straddle Carrier (Combi-SC) and Mobile Gantry (Combi-MG) ranges are used in diverse industry sectors to handle containers, extreme lengths of steel, concrete and other heavy out of gauge loads, and can be fitted with a number of lifting attachments and options.

The company first focused its attention on the container sector around ten years ago when it launched its Combi-SC Straddle Carrier range. Since then, it has developed a number of variants of this economical and flexible alternative to other heavy handling equipment, the latest of which is the Combi-IMSC Intermodal Straddle Carrier, which is primarily used at inland container terminals, which typically handle lower volumes of containers compared to the main seaports.

Conventional port straddle carriers are typically higher and wider and are designed to work at speed for a very quick turnaround. Their specifications often exceed what midsized intermodal terminals actually need and can be very expensive for smaller operations, which unload just a few trains per day and where margins can be tight.

The Combi-IMSC fills a niche in the market by offering a cost-effective customisable solution. It is ideal for handling containers between a terminal’s rail siding and its storage/transport lane and operating, maintenance overheads and fuel costs are therefore lower. In contrast to Combilift’s regular Straddle Carriers, the IMSC is fitted with eight wheels as standard, with two puncture-proof tyres on each axle. It features a fully-enclosed driver cab with air conditioning, joystick control and rotating seat which is positioned high off the ground for visibility via the half glass floor. But in common with the other Combi-SC models, it benefits from a lighter footprint compared to other heavy handling equipment as it does not need to be counterbalanced. The load on each corner of the Combi-IMSC equates to half that of a typical reach stacker performing the same operation. As the machine can operate in a straight line alongside the train there is less need for sharp turns or reversing, which reduces impact on the ground surface to a minimum and significantly increases the life of the tyres. Also, as the machine is equipped with multidirectional steering it can leave the rail track and carry out other loading, unloading, and stacking tasks in a different area of the terminal.

Combilift’s ability to customise the machine enables it to lift other oversized loads for added versatility. Coil clamps, grapple arms and rotating forks are just some of the additional attachments that Combilift has manufactured or supplied for Combi-IMSC customers.

With safety at the core of new design to meet demand CODIPRO (part of ALIPA Group) the Luxembourg specialist for swivel lifting rings, has launched the QLR (Quick Lift Ring), a swivel lifting ring that allows particularly fast anchoring, where at the push of a button, it can be fixed in the threaded hole in a matter of seconds.

“The idea of this lifting ring was born from the wish often expressed by our distributor-partners to be able to offer their customers a lifting ring that combines speed and safety,” says Martin Poth, sales manager, CODIPRO.

“CODIPRO’s engineering department is constantly following new trends within the market and continually developing the company’s product range. This is how the Quick Lift Ring, with all its advantages, came into being.”

The QLR saves up to 80% time compared to screwing in a conventional lifting ring. This turns the sometimes lengthy screwing process into a short operation. It is a double swivel ring with bearing and is easy to handle. The system works purely mechanically and with no complex maintenance. The Quick Lift Ring has higher lifting capacities than the fixed rings and is available for the DSR Gradup and stainless steel model.

CODIPRO QLR (Quick Lift Rings) for fast anchoring
The William Hackett Offshore Swivel Hoist and DA Swivel SL hook in orange
Gorbel technology allows workers to adhere to social distancing restrictions
Gorbel predicts a move towards more flexible technology in the future
Combilift Single Beam Spreader Bar
Combilift Auto Spreader Bar with Grapple Arms
Combilift SC & rail cart