Q&A: The Differences Between Cranes and Hoists, Explained

While cranes and hoists are both machines that move and lift heavy loads, their design and functionality are fundamentally different. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between cranes and hoists and how they work. Knowing the basics will help you determine the best equipment for your specific requirements, as well as its proper maintenance.

Q: What is an overhead crane?

A: A crane is a complex machine designed to lift, lower, and move heavy or bulky loads in different directions. A combination of the hoist, trolley, and bridge motions enable the overhead crane to cover the entire factory floor.

The overhead crane system should be configured to be compatible with your building layout.

Q: What are different types of overhead cranes?

A: You’ll often see these overhead cranes in most facilities:

Top Running Crane. This type of overhead crane is ideal for industrial buildings with limited headroom. Running on rails mounted atop the runway beam, a top-running crane has extra lifting height compared to an under-running crane. A double girder top-running crane provides greater hook height than a single girder, as the hoist is positioned between the double girders.
Top-running cranes are usually bigger with lifting capacities of up to 20 tons or more. These are also easier to install and maintain.

Under Running Crane. An underrunning crane can be suspended directly from the overhead building structure without the need for support columns. Since the workspace underneath is not obstructed by columns, this type of crane can service a wider area. Under-running cranes are ideal for facilities with limited floor space or complex processes.

Gantry Crane. Commonly used in manufacturing facilities, shipyards, scrap yards, railyards for operations, special construction sites, and steel mills, a gantry crane could either have a single or double girder configuration supported by freestanding legs that move on wheels or along a track or rail system.

Monorail Crane. An alternative to conventional cranes and conveyor belts, a monorail crane hoist is attached to a trolley using a steel cable or chain for lifting, lowering, and suspending load to a location. It can either move in a straight line from one end of the room to another or along a curved beam for added flexibility.

Q: What is a hoist?

A: A hoist is a device that essentially moves loads up and down, like an elevator. Hoists are an integral part of overhead cranes; these work as a single unit.

Q: What are the different kinds of hoists?

A: Hoists can be categorized according to the lifting medium, power, and suspension used.

Lifting medium. The lifting medium allows the hoist to move. It can be either a rope, metal cable, welded link chain (identical metal loops attached), or roller load chain (alternating roller links and pin links to form a line that engages with a toothed sprocket).

Power. Powered hoists come in 3 varieties: electric, air/pneumatic, and hydraulic. Compared to most manual hoisting equipment, powered hoists have faster lifting speeds and different lifting capacities.

Suspension. The type of suspension would depend on how the hoist will be utilized. If you only need to move a load straight up, a stationary hook-mounted hoist does the job. Meanwhile, a hoist bolted to a beam can handle heavier loads. A hoist mounted to a trolley running along a beam or a rail can lift loads up and across a facility.

Integrity Crane and Hoist designs, engineers, manufactures, installs, modifies, modernizes, and load tests industrial bridge cranes, ergonomic workstations, runway systems, monorails, power systems, and control panels. Get in touch with their team, who can recommend the best materials handling system for your facility.

Call Integrity Crane and Hoist at (615) 302-3431 for more information.

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