If you’re going to be getting into industrial manufacturing, then there is quite a bit of equipment that you’ll need. One of the elements you’ll likely need are hoists, specifically overhead crane hoists. There are different kinds of overhead crane hoists. We’ll be talking a little bit about the various ones in this article and what they do.

What is a Hoist?

Before you get the hoist you need, you should understand exactly what they are, and their purpose. A hoist:

  • Is a critical overhead crane system component
  • Lifts and lowers a load

Overhead cranes come with what manufacturers call either drum or lift wheels. They use either wire or chain, wrapping it around when you aren’t using it. It unspools when you’re lifting and moving something.


Hoists have two main characteristics. They are:

  • The power source
  • The lifting medium

The power source is what performs the lift. It can be air-powered, electric-powered, or hand-powered. Some people also call the hand-powered option “manual.”

The lifting medium, with the chain or rope, is what you use to support the load as you move it from place to place in your warehouse or work area.

Chain Hoists

Chain hoists are one of the more popular warehouse or industrial work options. With them, metal chain is the lifting medium. You pull the chain through sprockets and deposit it into a container.

This is a popular option because it is low-maintenance. It is also relatively inexpensive when you compare it to the wire rope hoist.

You can power a chain hoist pneumatically, electrically, or manually. The chain should last longer than wire rope and usually has up to 25-ton capacity.

Wire Rope Hoists

Some manufacturers opt for the wire rope hoist. Wire rope is the lifting medium with this option. The wire rope cable wraps around a grooved drum.

You can power these hoists electronically, pneumatically, and manually as well. Some companies like to use this option in their production environments because it can lift faster and higher than chain hoists.

It can often lift 10 tons and above. The lift operation with it is smooth and quiet.

Manual Hoists

The manual hoist can be either wire or chain. Manufacturers usually use these more infrequently, when speed is not so much of a factor.

One chain lowers and lifts the load. The other supports it. You pull on the chain with a steady hand-over-hand motion. You can also use a ratchet or a handheld lever. In that instance, you turn gears located inside the hoist.

The real plus with manual hoists is their simple design. They are easy to clean, maintain, and inspect. If you have tight manufacturing quarters where the other hoist types are impractical, that’s where you’ll probably want one.

Electric Hoists

There are also electric hoists. These can use either wire or chain as well. With this setup, you have an electric motor that turns gears inside the hoist.

You can control an electric hoist with radio control or a pushbutton pendant. Most manufacturers will hardwire an electric hoist into a crane’s electrical system.

You can use electric hoists in many different situations. There are various configurations and types. You can’t run them continuously, though, and cycle duty limits them.

To ensure you don’t overheat the motor, you’ll need to rest your electric hoist for a while in between uses. A motor overheating can easily cause significant damage.

Air Hoists

The other kind of industrial hoist is the air hoist, which some people describe as pneumatic. The air hoist has a piston-driven or rotary motor. Compressed air powers them.

Air passes freely through the system. This cools down the hoist as you operate it, so there is not as much overheating danger, like with the electric versions.

You can run an air hoist without any rest, which certainly makes them appealing if you’re trying to get your shipment out within some time constraints. This is probably the hoist you want if you have a heavy-use, high-speed environment.

Which One is for You?

If you’re trying to choose between an air hoist, an electric one, and a manual one, you’ll have to look at your manufacturing space. How much room you have will play a part in the decision and how much money you have to spend. You’ll probably need to consult an expert.

You might not have a direct manufacturing role, but you should still know a little bit about hoists and how they operate.

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