No matter what type of industry you are in and what your product is, there is one thing you have in common with every other business in the world. Your product must be physically moved (often several times) throughout the process of its creation and distribution, and eventually ending up in the hands of the consumer. Basically, without the material handling industry, we wouldn’t have the thriving system of commerce that we have.
There are employees responsible for materials handling within almost every business. In order to move supplies, materials, and goods throughout the job site or manufacturing process, employees work with lifting slings and rigging equipment.
Lifting slings is among the most commonly used equipment in the materials handling industry; any time cranes, derricks, and hoists are used to transport goods, it involves a lifting sling. Understanding the function and proper use of a lifting sling is incredibly important for efficiency and safety on the job.
Good operating practices
Although the slings themselves are what does the heavy lifting in the job, it is the practices of the operator that makes or breaks the efficiency and safety of the movement of materials. The life of the materials handling equipment can be considerably extended, as well as hazardous situations avoided, simply by following a few basic sling usage practices:
- Regardless of the type of equipment the sling is used with, the operator should thoroughly inspect it prior to every usage, to ensure there is no damage to it that could lead to the equipment malfunctioning or put any workers in danger.
- The type of sling used should be carefully selected, based on the size and type of material being lifted, and the conditions of the environment it is being used in.
- The operator should use the equipment with common sense. It shouldn’t be used at excessive speeds, accelerating or decelerating sporadically, or making sudden jerks in the slack of the line while using the equipment.
- The operator, and all workers present, should be cognizant of any hazardous situations and make corrections as they arise.
Selecting the Proper Lifting Slings
The proper type of slings to be used in any particular job depends on the size (both weight and shape) the temperature, and the sensitivity of the objects being moved, as well as the physical conditions of the environment they are being moved in.
There are three types of slings used in materials handling: chain, wire, and fiber. Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
- Chain slings have the advantage of carrying excessively heavy items in a variety of shapes, including materials of high temperatures.
The disadvantage to chain slings is that they are vulnerable to sudden shocks in movement and can be damaged. It is important to thoroughly inspect chain slings prior to each use, as any stretching or damage to the links could lead to breakage.
- Wire slings are created with wires that are intertwined to create a rope. The wire rope is flexible, making it adjustable to materials of various sizes, and able to stand up to high temperatures. The disadvantage of wire slings is that they sometime develop “fatigue” after being bent in sharp angles repeatedly. To avoid this, padding should be added around the bends of items that are lifted with wire slings.
- Fiber or web slings are most commonly used for temporary jobs and for delicate or expensive equipment that must be handled with care. This type of sling holds a higher risk of deteriorating, so extra attention should be given while inspecting it between each use.
Safe Lifting Practices
- The Center of Gravity
The center of gravity is the point in which the greatest amount of weight is concentrated. The crane hook must be centered directly above the center of gravity, to protect the item from being unbalanced.
- The Rated Capacity
Each sling has its own rated capacity determined by the manufacturer of the sling. The operator should pay close attention to the rated capacity to ensure it is not exceeded.
- Proper Maintenance
Even the highest quality slings must be maintained in order to avoid expensive breakages or injuries. The maintenance required for a particular sling is determined by the manufacturer of it, and should be followed specifically.