Most people can lift a very limited amount of weight and that is nowhere near what they need to lift in order to get heavy items to and from platforms and boats, etc. This is where winches and hoists come in. Lifting gear can be essential when you need to move something heavy.
When you need to move something very heavy and it will move straight up, you can use a hoist. If you are pulling a heavy load horizontally, you need a winch. But how do they actually work?
Both systems use a cable or a that is wrapped around a drum. This drum is powered by air, electricity or hydraulics. In some cases, it may be manually turned. As it’s turned, the cable winds around it or lets out. You can turn the barrel to release a cable which can then be attached to something, such as a boat, a container, or another load. Then you are free to wind the cable around the barrel again to reel it all back in.
There’s a formula to remember when determining how much weight the hoist can carry. First, however, you should know that the maximum load is how much weight the winch can handle with just the lowest layer of cable on the drum.
The formula is the gross weight of the object multiplied by 1.5. So, if you intend to lift a 1,000 kg item, you will need to look for a winch that has at least 1,500 kg of line pull. Of course, there are more complex calculations going on, but this will give you the basic calculations.
With each layer of rope that is added, the line pull drops by around 10%. If you’re still confused as to how much you need and whether you can increase it, talk to the winch company. They’ll give you all the information you need and can help you work out the size of the air winch you need.
The air winch is a little different from other winches. Rather than using petrol, diesel, or electricity, it relies on compressed air and pneumatics to function. This type of winch can be used anywhere, since there is no need for electricity.
With this type of winch, you have a regular control, but it also has a floating function which is powered by the compressed air you use. These are easily used to move around, as well, because they tend to be lighter. The winch is powered by a pneumatic motor which uses compressed air blown into ports to make sure the drum turns.
Sometimes, you won’t have the energy you need in order to operate your winch. It’s also very likely that you’ll have to work hazardous areas from time to time, where diesel or electricity may be dangerous. If this is the case, you really want to be careful not to set off a potentially dangerous situation. Make sure you understand exactly where you need the winch and what it’s for, before choosing it. The hoist company will ensure you get the right one for the job you need.
There are a number of benefits when it comes to air winches. You’ll find that:
They’re faster. These winches are much faster than other types of winches, thanks to the air power.
They’re safer. Without an electric motor, you don’t need to worry about sparks setting off some of the fumes in a hazardous situation. The environment will affect the situation, as well.
They work anywhere. You can take an air winch anywhere you need to go, since it won’t be hooked up to much. The winch will lift the load, but will not require heavy diesel or electricity, which could be problematic in some areas.
Plenty of lifting power. The winch can haul large amounts of products or heavy construction materials that would otherwise be stuck where they are.
The air winch can be used in so many situations that it has become a staple on remote or offshore rigs.
Where is an air winch used? Nearly anywhere you need to lift or pull something heavy, but don’t have easy access to electricity is where it will be useful.
One way the air winch is useful is on offshore rigs. While these machines are built for a range of situations, they’re particularly helpful while setting up the rig. For example, they can be used to lay pipe and to set the right pieces into a trench. If you’re trying to lay heavy wires at the bottom of the sea, then the air winch can certainly help with that.
They are also used for decommissioning a rig, since many of the pieces will be stripped away. The winch allows you to easily pull the items closer and ensure they are correctly stored, either on the rig itself or on the ship.
Air winches are also used in construction, particularly on remote build sites, where electricity has not yet been set up. This allows you to move construction materials, including steel beams, concrete slabs, and more into place.
Factories that produce flammable items will also benefit from having an air winch. Since it doesn’t cause sparks as it is fuelled by air, you can safely use the winch in places where dangerous chemicals and fertilisers are made, among other things.
The air winch will also fit into small spaces, so you can use it in construction where a crane would not fit. If you need to move something into that space and it’s too heavy to simply carry, then an air winch is your best choice.
You will need a solid place to anchor the winch. It will be pulling some serious weight, so needs to be set into a steel support beam or something similar. The winch will need a support frame that should be bolted or welded to the foundation. Some winches don’t come with their own frame, but the winch company should have what you need.
The controls should face the load and should be in a good place for you to stand and not get caught by the cables. Ideally, no one should cross the path of the winch and if there is a walkway nearby, you should prevent people from walking on it to keep them safe.
It’s important to stay on top of maintenance when you’re using an air winch. Even if it’s hired, you should make a point of doing proper maintenance. You don’t want any accidents and it’s best if the winch is in top working order.
Daily inspections: Check the winch each day before you begin using the winch. Check the wire rope and ensure it’s not frayed or kinked. If there is any damage to the wire rope, it will need to be replaced. You don’t want it to snap while lifting a load, so it’s best to just replace the rope right away.
Clean the winch: You want everything in pristine condition for the lifting, so you should clean every part of the winch on a daily basis. Remove any dirt and debris from the wire rope, even if that means you have to let it all out and then wipe it down as you rewind it.
Lubricate as needed: Depending on the winch, you may need to add lubrication, so stay on top of this, as you will find it difficult to use the winch if it’s not in good condition. You should have full instructions from the winch company on how to manage the lifting gear.
There are many uses for air winches, but they are primarily used in construction and offshore rigs. If you’re hiring a winch, you should find out if the operator is available for it or if you need to provide one. Take all safety precautions to ensure there are no injuries. Whether you’re using a large or small winch, the potential for damage is there, so it’s good to take things slowly and be sure it’s done right.
Are you looking for an air winch or other lifting equipment? Atlas Winch Hire and Hoist Services offer a wide variety of options, including a small winch, air winch, cable pulling winch, and an electric boat winch, among others. Contact us today on 01899 221577 (Scotland) or 01371 859555 (Essex) for more information about how we can help you.