One of the most necessary and frequent activities in workplaces is overhead lifting. It is an integral part of successful warehouses operations and management for many businesses. Meanwhile, it is also a technically risky operation and can lead to fatal accidents if done improperly. Overhead lifting hence needs to be done with the utmost precision following adequate safety practices. Any malpractice regarding the same will not only lead to equipment damage but also serious accidents and injuries. Hence we must ensure that all aspects of operational safety must be tended to while operating the overhead crane. Through this article, we are going to look into one such issue that poses considerable criticality, the side pulling.
What is a side pull, and how does it happen?
Side pulling in case of overhead cranes occurs when the centre of gravity of the attached load is dislocated and doesn’t come under the hoist of the crane directly. This usually occurs when the crane operator doesn’t properly centre the load and attempts to lift it right away. This can be attributed directly to the misuse of the operator. In other cases, the hoist applies a horizontal force directly to the load, which might not be in a suspended position. Any form of side-loading can make a routine lifting operation dangerous for the equipment, the operator, and everyone nearby.
How is side pulling dangerous?
The phenomenon of side pulling can be dangerous in the following ways.
- Load swing: Side pull on the suspended load can cause the load to swing horizontally. A possibility of a swinging load might not seem scary to some, but when you consider the tremendous weight of the loads usually lifted using an overhead crane, the scare factor will come into play. Firstly, it can damage the equipment severely as well as its support structure depending on where it is located. Moreover, a swinging and heavy load can cause fatal injuries to anyone standing on the factory floor nearby.
- Disposition wire or rope: When the crane is subjected to side-loading, it can fore the hoist’s rope or chain out of its intended position. When the load gets dislocated from its central position, the horizontal force can make the wire come out of its original position, which can pose threats to the hoist’s internal mechanisms. A damaged hoist would hence result in increased downtime and considerable efforts in repairing it. Other working parts of the equipment might also come under risk due to the wire getting misplaced. Personal injuries are also possible to some extent due to this.
- Damage to hoisting trolley: The hoist can get damaged as well due to the side pulling. The hoist trolley, for instance, could tip over and get derailed. Sideloading puts excessive stress on the entire support structure, which would cause it to bend inappropriately. This can again damage the equipment severely and put forth personal risk to the operator and everyone in close proximity to the operation.
- Nullify manufacturer’s warranty: Sideloading is not considered a normal operational activity. This is mainly because the overhead crane is intended to lift loads vertically, and any kind horizontal is an undesired one. Any damage caused due to side-load would void the manufacturer’s warranty and would not be covered within it. The operator would then become solely responsible for the damage caused by the side load on the crane and its parts.
How to avoid side loading on overhead cranes?
The following preventive measures must be taken to ensure that side-loading is avoided at all costs while operating the overhead crane.
- Primarily the design of the crane and all other monorail systems must be devoid of manufacturing glitches. This is ensured by employing qualified professionals that are well versed in material handling.
- The operating team must ensure that all overhead lifting equipment, such as cranes, is reviewed after and during installation by qualified personnel from the company. Proper checks must also be performed to verify that no side-loading is experienced when operating the crane after installation.
- There is no alternative to proper and adequate training. All workers associated with crane activities must go through comprehensive training regarding crane operation and safety. Managers and supervisors should also take part in such training.
- We are installing additional operational and safety equipment such as rope guides, overlay limit switches, which would help in detecting any unintended side load and hence prevent it. The equipment provided can help you out in obtaining the right safety equipment.
- An adjustable lifting beam can work wonders for your overhead crane lifting operations. A counterweight would also prevent any side loading when the load is dislocated from its centre.
- Buy specialized crane systems that can be manufactured to negate side-loading when lifting overhead loads. Specialized cranes with telescopic bridges are perfect for eliminating side loading.
Moving heavy materials has always been a risky proposition, even with the help of overhead cranes. The side-loading caused can prove to be hazardous for everyone involved with the operation. Proper precautions have to be taken in order to reduce any amount of side pull and avoid fatal personal and equipment damage.