Everything You Need To Know About Chain Blocks

Precise and effective lifting is vital in all sorts of industries and a chain block is the solution that can lift up to 50 tons with ease for years.


I will be going through some guidelines on how to pick out an invaluable piece of equipment for streamlining your load lifting processes and answering some questions you may have while on the search for the right chain block - questions like:

  • What is a chain block used for?
  • What are the dangers of using one?

  • What do I need to know before buying?

  • What are the features I need in a chain block?

  • What is ATEX and why would I need it?

  • What are the different chain blocks available?

 

WHAT IS A CHAIN BLOCK USED FOR?

Chain blocks are used for lifting heavy loads vertically and while speed isn't a key requirement, precision is. They can be used safely and easily by just one person, like if a mechanic needs to carefully lower an engine into a vehicle, or if a car needs to be pulled out from a dangerous spot. They are used in factories to lift objects to and from the conveyer belt, and they can be used in construction to lift heavy loads safely to high levels.

The hoist is suspended using a beam clamp or trolley from the top hook and is operated with two chain loops, the lifting chain and the hand chain. The hand chain is wrapped around a wheel that supports the lifting mechanism and when this chain is pulled, the lifting chain then lifts and lowers the load. The object then can be moved easily along with the trolley.


  • The advantages are:

  • They don't need electricity or oil to run.

  • They are cheaper than electric hoists.

  • They are easily maintained and repaired.

 

  • The disadvantages are:

  • They are slower than electric hoists.

  • They may have certain requirements for the areas they are installed in.

ADJUSTABLE CHAIN END STOP

An adjustable chain end stop is placed on a chain to prevent the load from falling in the case of a brake failure. They should be connected to the loose end of the load chain so that there is at least 1 link left free.

They are used as a precautionary measure against brake failure and should not be used solely as a main limit device.

They are available to handle capacities ranging from 750kg up to 10,000kg and suit a range of different chain diameters. The capacity should not be exceeded for safety reasons and the correct diameter should be considered.

The chain end stop can be adjusted to move along at any point of the chain by operating the safety device and pushing the slider. When released, it locks onto the chain and the safety lock stops the chain from moving through the hoist if there was a malfunction. It should be placed less than 20mm from the chain block and should be re-positioned after each use.

 

PRODUCT COMPARISON

As with any lifting equipment, safety is paramount. And peace of mind can only be guaranteed when you purchase a well established brand with a good reputation. There are a number of brands that make strong and durable equipment but I will take Yale as a prime example. With a variety of options available, a good quality chain hoist is going to resilient and long lasting so you can get your money’s worth out of it.


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YALE VSIII HAND CHAIN BLOCK

The Yale VSIII is available from capacities of 250kg up to 50,000kg
The VSIII range of hand chain hoists have a low overall height which allows for optimal use of headroom.

Strong safety latches for the hooks which can rotate 360°
The load chain runs smoothly with precision machined guide rollers.

All of the parts are high quality which ensure a long service life; gearbox bearings, side plates, load chain sheave, housing cover, strong bolts between side plates, and the reinforced hand wheel cover for increased stability.

For protection when using outdoors, it has a fully enclosed stamped steel housing.

Also, for corrosion prevention, it has zinc-plated and yellow-chromated brake components, load chain, and guide rollers.

YALELIFT 360 HAND CHAIN BLOCK

The Yale 360 is available from capacities of 500kg up to 20,000kg

A revolutionary twist on a the chain block is the ability to operate the hand chain in any position with the rotating hand chain guide. Being able to use a chain block from the side of the load or horizontally pulling is especially useful when in confined spaces.

The low headroom of the 360 chain block allows for maximum use of the lifting height.

Safety is under control when you can use the chain hoist effectively from any position outside of the danger zone meaning greater flexibility and precision.

For corrosion protection, the Yale 360 is comprised of yellow-chromated or galvanised high quality parts and an enclosed stamped steel housing to protect internal components.

It has a new patented brake system which has improved maintenance, safety, and quietness.
The hardened load sheave has four precision machined pockets which allow accuracy in the movement of the load chain.

CORROSION RESISTANT YALE HAND CHAIN HOIST C/W STAINLESS STEEL

The Yale Corrosion Resistant is available from capacities of 250kg up to 4000kg

An increased life expectancy is ensured with a zinc-plated load chain and stainless steel hand hoist.

The performance of other chain hoist is usually affected over time due to corrosion.

The stainless steel chain hoist and protective coating on this chain block extend the service life of its components so it can be used in industries such as; food processing, chemical uses, or farming and sewage treatment.

ATEX YALELIFT 360 HAND CHAIN HOIST

The Yale ATEX 360 is available from capacities of 500kg up to 20,000kg

A step up from all other chain blocks, this model is complete with ATEX protection for use in potentially explosive environments.

It has all the features of the above models with added ATEX features;

  • Extremely low headroom.

  • Enclosed robust stamped steel housing protecting internal parts.

  • The revolutionary 360° rotating hand chain guide for flexibility in confined spaces.

  • Patented brake system for quiet and safe operation

  • Zinc-plated and yellow-chromated parts to prevent corrosion.

  • Enclosed chain guide and gearbox for protection.

  • The hardened load sheave with four precision machined pockets for accuracy

  • Hooks with safety latches and rotation.

  • Drop forged load and suspension hooks, made of high tension steel, that yield under overload instead of breaking.

  • Explosion protected with spark resistant coating.

  • Copper-coated suspension and load hooks.

WHAT ARE THE DANGERS WHEN USING A CHAIN BLOCK?

Manual chain hoists can be a crucial component in any industry and the right one is bought and it is used with caution, it will a solid investment. However there are common ways that people will misuse them- putting anyone and anything around them at risk.

If you want to get the most out of it, here are just a few things to avoid doing:

OVERLOADING

A common way people tend to misuse it is to exceed the maximum capacity leading to not only unsafe working conditions but also irreparable damages to the hook of the hoist.

Modifying

Making alterations to the chain block is a good way to void the manufacturer's warranty while putting everyone in danger. Do not try to make modifications to make lifting any easier- the hoist is built the way it is to ensure that it can easily and safely lift up to its working load limit.

TWISTING THE CHAIN

When the load being lifted spins, the chain twists with it and will get jammed into the gears of the hoist that may lead to irreparable damage.

RUNNING THE CHAIN FALL INTO THE LOAD

If you’re not careful enough, there is a chance of the chain fall running into the load, damaging the housing or causing the chain to jam.

PULLING THE CHAIN TOO HARD

Using chain blocks slowly and carefully is the most efficient way of working. Pulling on the chain too fast could cause the load to spin and the chain to fall off the sprocket and crash into nearby objects. This can also happen by pulling on the chain too hard which can also spread the chain links. So loosen your grip, and go slowly to easily avoid any of this.

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SIDE PULLING

Chain blocks are specifically designed to lift loads vertically with the load placed directly under and centered. Side pulling is when the load is not under the hoist and there is an attempt to lift it at an angle.

This is even more dangerous when the load is on a raised surface and it is lifted of it from the side with such force that a pendulum effect is caused. As the load attempts to center itself under the hoist, it will swing rapidly and can cause serious harm to anyone in the vicinity, it also causes stress on the hoist, trolley, and beam and could cause irreparable damage to them.


So just to recap;

  • Keep the load under the maximum capacity of the hoist.

  • Don’t make any modifications to the hoist, it’s perfect just the way it it.

  • Make sure the chain is kept straight and the load is centered directly below.

  • Take it easy when lifting, slow and careful is efficient.

 

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING?

The advantages of a manual chain hoist outweigh any alternative like a wire rope hoist. When you choose the right one, they are low cost, low maintenance and lightweight, making it simple to move locations if needed.

The wrong way to go about buying a hoist is by making decisions based on price. If you pick the right one for the job, a hoist can be long lasting without any trouble. It can be dangerous to use one that isn't protected enough or has a lower capacity than what is needed. It will be worth your money and time to invest in the safest option so your hoist perform at its best throughout its long life.

If a chain block is needed for different applications or in different environments it may be necessary to purchase more than one type. Otherwise it will wear faster and cause productivity and safety issues.

WHAT FEATURES DO I NEED IN A CHAIN BLOCK?

There are some aspects to consider to help inform your choice of chain block:

  • Weight capacity

  • Lift distance

  • Suspension

  • Environment

 

WEIGHT CAPACITY

The first thing you need to establish before buying is the maximum amount of weight you will be lifting, not just in one go, but throughout an average day.

The majority of hoists are calibrated in quarter or half ton increments so you need to round up your expected capacity to the nearest number. Even if the weight you will be lifting weighs a little over 1000kg, you will need to get the 2000kg chain block.

Always pick a hoist with a larger capacity than what you usually lift. This is because of the duty cycle - if you lift many loads of 1000kg in a day, you should consider getting a hoist with a larger capacity to reduce wear and tear and increase the life of your chain block.

LIFT DISTANCE

When buying a manual chain hoist you will need to choose an option for the height of lift - this is the distance from the hoist to the load that is being lifted. A height of lift of 3 meters or 6 meters is common. This is important so you can avoid the cost of replacement when you realise that the size you bought is unusable.

SUSPENSION

There are two common types of ways of hanging the chain hoist, with lug suspension or hook suspension. The lug suspension comes as standard on most chain hoists and is ideal to use in a confined space with little headroom.

ENVIRONMENT

Keep in mind the type of place the chain block be used. Is it hot, cold, explosive, or caustic. This aspect determines the durability of the hoist and what kind of protection is needed. If an unsuitable hoist is chosen, it’s lifespan may be compromised as well as performance.

  • High temperatures can lead to gearbox leakage.

  • Low temperatures can cause components to seize.

  • Extreme changes in temperature can lead to condensation.

  • Caustic workplaces can be corrosive to equipment.

  • Explosive environments can be hazardous when working with machinery.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF ATEX

There are plenty of industries that require explosion protection and spark resistant materials and equipment. From the obvious oil and gas works but also agriculture and wood working can have potentially hazardous areas which cause and avoidable threat to the safety of materials and lives.

Purpose built for use in explosive environments, ATEX hand chain hoists all have spark-resistant, copper-coated suspension and load hooks, stainless steel chains, and bronze trolley wheels.


So is explosion protection necessary?

For electrical and mechanical machinery, ATEX is a vital feature to guarantee the safety of your workers and produce. The protection it provides prevents the ignition of an explosive mixture of gases and combustible materials. For when you need to take an extra precautionary measure on top of eliminating high temperatures and sparking.

The potential for explosions is often overlooked in many industries, here are just some hazardous environments where you should consider using ATEX equipment:


• Gas suppliers
• Chemical industry
• Waste disposal sites

• Waste management companies
• Energy production companies
• Metal processing companies
• Wood-processing companies

• Pharmaceutical industry
• Refineries
• Recycling companies
• Paint shops
• Agriculture
• Food and animal feed industry

 

CONCLUSION

Now that you know the variety of chain blocks available, you can make an informed decision and choose the perfect fit for your job. Regardless of the industry you’re in, whether its outdoors or explosive, there is the right choice for you.

At Lifting365.com there is a range of high quality Yale Chain Blocks Products and Adjustable Chain End Stops in capacities that range from 250kg up to 50,000kg and all come CE marked with documentation.