Hoists and Winches – The Total Guide

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Whether it’s on a construction site or a delicate operation in the petrochemical industry, businesses around the world rely on lifting and winching equipment to raise and handle heavy loads both efficiently and safely.

There are several common types of hoists and winches, including powered and manual versions. Read on for our complete guide to what they are, the differences between them, and some interesting facts along the way.

What’s the Difference Between a Hoist and a Winch?

First things first, people sometimes use these words interchangeably – but they’re actually not the same thing.

In short, winches pull heavy items in a horizontal direction, while hoists lift them up vertically. Despite this, there’s actually a little more to it since many items of equipment can perform both operations.

The Main Types of Hoists and Winches

You’ll find that both hoists and winches come in a range of sizes, types and load capacities depending on the specific requirements and application. Some of the most common types include:

Manual Hoists and Winches

A typical manual chain hoist uses a hand chain and a lifting chain to support the load. The operator will pull down the hand chain, which then turns a pulley mechanism and raises the other end of the chain to raise the object. Hand or manual winches use a ratcheting lever to pull or lift the load.

Manual hoists and winches are cheap, portable and easy to transport, but they also require more work to lift or pull very heavy loads. This is why powered systems are sometimes preferred in this scenario.

Powered Hoists and Winches

Electric, air and hydraulic lifting and handling equipment offers a higher capacity and much faster speeds. They are widely used where a manual version would simply be impractical, offering a fast, safe and efficient solution that can be used in a wide range of industries.

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The preferred type of powered hoist or winch really depends on the application. For example, electric lifting and handling equipment can overheat under constant use, meaning it wouldn’t usually be deployed in a flammable environment.

Electric Hoists and Winches

Electric chain hoists are the most common type of electric hoist and suit a wide variety of applications. Capacities generally range from 100 kg to 6000 kgs, with a choice of mounting configurations and operating speeds depending on the individual requirements of the customer.

You’ll also find electric wire rope hoists, offering versatility and heavy duty capabilities, with some models capable of lifting up to 50,000 kgs.

Equally, electric winches provide a high level of performance, efficiency and safety in a compact size. As with hoists, many electric winches have a modular design for maximum versatility.

Air Hoists and Winches

Air hoists and winches are a robust solution that are often used in hazardous working environments. Since no electricity is used, air hoists and winches can be safely used in explosive and flammable environments such as those found in petrochemical plants and refineries.

Air hoists have a high duty cycle and can be operated virtually continuously since air motors do not heat up.

Hydraulic Hoists and Winches

Hydraulic hoists are ideal for demanding environments requiring a 100% duty cycle. Since there is no electric power, they are again suitable for use in places where there is the potential for an explosion.

They are often the preferred option in extreme environments where there are also existing hydraulic lines in place.

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