What Is a Beam Hoist?

Mary McMahon

A beam hoist is a piece of lifting equipment that slides along a rail to allow operators to lift objects and move them to different locations. Such devices can be permanently installed in a facility such as a warehouse or mounted on a mobile crane for use on work sites. They have a very high load capacity and can be used for a variety of uses, such as loading container ships or moving packages around a warehouse. Operators need special training to handle a beam hoist correctly.

Beam hoists are used to load container ships.
Beam hoists are used to load container ships.

The beam hoist uses a small carriage mounted to one or more beams. The operator can move the carriage to various points along the beam to position it over loads, then he or she can use the attached hoist to raise and lower lifting hooks. Goods can be secured to the hooks with chains or ropes. In some cases, the beam hoist might lower a lifting frame to increase strength and stability for large objects. After the load is secure, the operator can raise the lift again and move the load wherever it needs to go.

In a facility that has existing exposed large beams, it might be possible to attach a beam hoist directly to the beams. An engineer might need to inspect the site to confirm that this would be safe. Warehouses and shops might also have built-in beams designed specifically for this purpose, including curved rails to allow for more flexibility with load movements. In other cases, it is necessary to install a load-bearing beam that is rated for the weight of a fully laden hoist.

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Mobile beam hoist units might mount onto a truck or frame to allow for loading and unloading at remote locations where a permanent lift would not be necessary. They are common at locations such as docks, where they can be useful for loading and unloading ships. Large stationary cranes also can rotate to provide beam hoist coverage to different outdoor areas of a dock.

Each beam hoist has a weight and safety rating. It is important for a user to avoid exceeding the recommended weight, because the hoist could fail. It might drop the load or become damaged by the weight, and this could necessitate costly repairs. Any cables and chains that are used also need to be appropriate for the weight rating. It is advisable for operators to regularly inspect rope and chain for signs of wear that might be early warning signs of equipment failure and to replace any frayed or obviously worn material before it breaks.

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