Cranes are the indispensable workhorse of dozens of industries all over the world. Using basic principles of mechanical advantage, cranes are used to hoist and manoeuvre huge loads that would be impossible to shift by hand.
But cranes are not the be-all-end-all. They come with limitations, particularly when it comes to the size, shape, weight and load distribution of objects that are being lifted. Not all cranes can lift all loads, but that’s where crane lifting equipment comes in.
Lifting equipment can greatly expand the capabilities of cranes, making them safer and more efficient in almost every scenario. In this article we’ll look at lifting attachments in more detail to see how they’re used and why they’re so important to our critical industries.
What Are Crane Lifting Attachments?
Crane lifting attachments are exactly what they sound like – they are attachments that are used to improve the capabilities of overhead cranes. These specialised devices are used in conjunction with standard lifting gear to improve the versatility of cranes. They allow crane operators to handle different types of materials and perform certain tasks more efficiently.
Why Are Lifting Attachments Used?
Overhead cranes are some of the world’s most useful machines. They allow workers to move and transport incredibly heavy, bulky and awkward loads without the risk of injury.
But cranes are limited in their functionality. Most types of overhead cranes are only fitted with a series of chains and hooks as lifting gear. This means they can only be used to lift relatively uniform and balanced loads.
So what do you do when you need to lift something other than a standardised pallet or shipping container? You need crane lifting attachments.
Lifting attachments greatly diversify how cranes can be used. Lifting attachments are added to the crane’s lifting mechanism, allowing it to be used for other purposes. For instance, lifting booms are long metal beams that are used for balancing and unbalanced load. With a lifting boom, it’s possible to lift large and awkwardly-shaped objects that would be impossible to shift otherwise.
Crane lifting attachments also offer a few other benefits on worksites:
- Greater diversity of lifting capabilities
- Reduces the risk of each lift, improving safety for workers onsite
- Speeds up the process of lifting odd-shaped objects
- Improves efficiency
- Allows cranes to be used to move loose materials such as gravel and rubbish
Common Types of Crane Lifting Equipment
Crane lifting attachments are found in every industry that uses cranes. Because cranes rely on a few basic principles, workers can use lifting attachments to achieve almost anything.
While there are thousands of types of crane lifting equipment, some of the most common attachments include:
- Hooks – Standard crane hooks are the most basic lifting attachments. They are used for lifting loads directly, and their capacity varies based on their design and size.
- Slings – Slings are flexible straps or ropes used to secure and lift loads. They come in various materials, such as wire rope, chain, or synthetic materials, and are suitable for lifting a wide range of loads.
- Magnets – Magnetic lifting attachments are used for handling ferrous materials, such as steel plates, sheets, and beams. These attachments use powerful magnets to securely lift and transport metal objects.
- Grabs and clamps – These attachments are designed to grasp and lift specific types of materials, such as pipes, concrete blocks, or containers. They come in various configurations, including hydraulic or mechanical options.
- Lifting booms – Some cranes have specialised booms or arms designed for specific tasks, such as telescopic booms for reaching greater heights, or jib arms for reaching over obstacles.
- Spreader bars – Spreader bars are used to distribute the load weight and provide stability when lifting large or unusual objects. They’re made up of a horizontal spreader bar that’s fitted with attachment points along its length for chains and slings.
- Lifting beams – Lifting beams are similar to spreader bars but are specifically designed to support loads with multiple lifting points. They are commonly used for lifting long or flexible loads.
- Vacuum lifters – These attachments use vacuum suction cups to lift and transport non-porous materials, such as glass, metal sheets, or plastic panels.
- Pallet lifter – Pallet lifters are designed to lift and move palletized loads. They often have fork-like attachments to slide under pallets and secure them for lifting
- Personnel baskets – Used for lifting personnel to elevated work areas, personnel baskets provide a safe and stable platform for workers during tasks such as maintenance or construction.
- Materials baskets – Materials baskets are metal cages with lifting points distributed evenly across the lifting device. They’re used to transport loose objects, like gravel, dirt, rubbish and manufacturing parts. Materials baskets allow cranes to fulfil a role that has typically been held by forklifts, making onsite cranes even more useful.
- Drum handling – Many of the world’s materials are transported in standardised drums. These drums weigh hundreds of kilograms and are a danger to move by hand. With drum handling attachments, cranes can be used to lift, transport and move one or more drums at a time.