Have your chain blocks been letting you down lately? Pun intended.
While they appear to be simple, straightforward mechanisms, chain blocks need to be perfectly matched to each task at hand. An imbalance in weight distribution can be disastrous for anyone in the vicinity of the failing chain block.
This comprehensive buyer’s guide will assist you in making the right purchase for your lifting needs.
What Are They?
Chain blocks are sometimes referred to as chain hoists. They’re mechanisms used to lift and lower heavy objects using chains & wheels.
Heavy duty chains are interwoven inside a big steel block and wrapped around revolving wheels. When the chain is pulled, the wheels wind the chain and begin to lift or lower whatever object has been attached at the end.
The mechanism leverages the weight of the attached object, making it far easier to lift or lower than it would usually be.
Each chain block consists of three main components:
- A lifting chain
- A pulling chain
- A hook
These mechanisms are usually electrically maneuvered however it isn’t uncommon to find manual ones.
Chain blocks date back to early days of the industrial revolution where heavy things needed to be hoisted fast. However if we look back in history there is evidence of chain block type mechanisms as early as Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Wheel and pulley type systems were used to lift & lower massive objects.
These devices are most commonly used in industrial warehouses and factories as well as construction sites. Automobile garages are also frequent users of chain blocks. Think of engines needing to be lifted out of the car body.
Generally if there is a lot to be moved in a space then a chain block will be nearby.
Chain blocks come in an array of different shapes and sizes.
The chain block you need will depend on the intended task on hand.
Some chain blocks are designed with wider bodies in order to facilitate just a few thick chains. Others are compact and host multiple thinner chains to compensate.
A wide variety of metals are also used on different brands and types of chain blocks. Most chain blocks are comprised of a combination of steel, zinc and alloy parts. Something worth looking for in a chain block is an enclosed casing. This prevents dirt and debris from entering the device & interfering with the safe movement of the chains on wheels.
Some higher end chain blocks will come equipped with an overload activated clutch. This device will make sure that the chain block is never under strain that it can’t handle. This keeps both the device and the people using it safe at all times.
It is important that your chain block is weatherproof. If a chain block has the opportunity to rust or hold moisture it can become faulty and dangerous to use.
The real deciding factor when it comes to choosing a chain block is the device capacity relative to what you intend to use it for.
Some chain blocks can hold much bigger weights than others.
Average, every day chain blocks fall in the vicinity of around 250kg to 10 tons. Your heavy duty, industrial strength mechanisms will range between 10 and 50 tons.
There are a few factors that determine just how much a chain block can handle:
- The type of steel plays a big part
- The thickness of the lifting chain determines capacity
- Whether the chain block is used manually or electronically will also determine how much weight is compatible with the device.
Devices that are able to be lifted and lowered by humans tend to hold a lot less weight compared to those that require electricity. This keeps the lifter on the end of the chain safe and within a reasonable weight class for human effort.
This overhead manual chain hoist by MHI is an example of a chain block system designed around human action. MHI are leaders in chain manufacturing and logistics. They provide business development and networking opportunities for anyone in the industry.
Break It Down
When choosing a chain block be sure to take all factors of your project into consideration. Things to consider would include:
- Range of weight classes that you will be working with
- Space available within the designated work zone
- Would you like it to move electronically or will you prefer to use it manually?
- Do you need training on the device?
Obviously another important factor is cost. Generally chain blocks are industry standardized and there isn’t a huge discrepancy in cost per weight class. It still doesn’t hurt to shop around and see if you can shave off a few dollars here & there.
Hoist Me Up
Since your business is likely to use this device as frequently as you use your toothbrush it only makes sense to put some thought into selecting an effective, even in the long term. Ask questions, do brand research and gather product reviews if you can.
If you take anything away from this buyer’s guide we hope that it is, above all, to explore your options and shop around before committing.
At the end of the day you need a chain block that isn’t going to let you down, as that could mean endangering someone. So pick wisely.