A hoist system is a system of devices used to raise and lower loads in order to move them or suspend them out of the way. Devices used in such a system vary but may include pulleys, ropes, power and control devices, and other equipment. The loads moved by a hoist system may be material loads, or they may be human or animal loads. Hoist systems may be used overhead, underground, or even underwater in a wide variety of applications. They may be operated mechanically, electrically, or hydraulically.
Manufacturing facilities may make use of hoisting systems to move material in a warehouse or factory, such as with an overhead crane. Construction operations may require such a system to move tools and material between ground level and the level where construction is in progress. Automotive and boat repair facilities may require hoist systems for such purposes as lifting an engine out of a vehicle or a boat out of the water. They may be used in medical settings to assist patients in functions they are unable to conduct independently such as getting into and out of bed. A hoist system may also be used in rescue operations such as to retrieve a person who is stranded underground or to move a large animal that is injured.
Residential or industrial settings may include a storage hoist system. Such a system is used to raise a load out of the way and suspend it in place for storage while it is not in use. Common examples for using a storage hoist system in a home include storing such things as recreational equipment, ladders, or car top carriers overhead in a garage.
Hoist systems for lifting lighter items may be designed for manual operation, depending on pulleys to provide sufficient mechanical advantage such that a person could easily lift the load. For heavier loads, an electric hoist system or one that is powered hydraulically may be required. These systems, however, typically may also be operated manually in the event of loss of power.
Safety is an important concern in operation of a hoist system. Improper operation of a hoist system, particularly in industrial settings, can result in damage to property, severe injuries to people, and even death. Overhead loads are a particular concern, and people should avoid standing or moving beneath them whether the load is in motion or not. All brakes and controls should be inspected to ensure that they are in good working order before a load is moved, and loads should be properly matched to the system's capacity and fastened securely. Proper care in fastening, balancing, and moving loads can help to ensure safe operation of a hoist system.