Choosing the right equipment for the job is vital not only for ensuring maximum performance, but also for the safety of its operators. It is worth carefully studying the devices available on the market to select the ones meeting all the standards required for performing intended work.
This applies both to the popular and multi-use solutions, such as office work PCs and complex mechanical elements, e.g. winches. As far as winches go, several essential characteristics should be considered to make it possible to match all the requirements with the given model.
Types of wire rope winches
Wire rope winches constitute a rather extensive product group. It includes devices for handling lighter materials and those whose weight considerably exceeds the lifting capability of an average person.
When it comes to the method of use, winches can be divided into electric (powered with electric motors), hydraulic (using hydraulic systems for operation), manual (fitted with suitable levers or cranks for manual operation), and pneumatic. In the case of light loads, manual winches are usually sufficient. But when hundreds of kilograms, or even tons, are to be lifted, more powerful electric or hydraulic equipment must be called upon for assistance.
The operating environment is not of lesser importance either. Winches can be divided into offshore winches that are used, among others, on oil platforms, marine winches for use on ships, and industrial winches for use in manufacturing facilities, on construction sites, and in various workshops.
The selection of the appropriate tool for the job depends not only on the final location, but also on the required lifting capacity. Not to mention the most convenient and the safest method of operation. That is why, and this cannot be emphasised enough, it is crucial that the operating environment must be closely examined before placing an order for a specific piece of equipment.
Winch approvals and certificates
The performance of winches is specified by approvals that they have earned. Approvals provide an insight for the potential buyer about what can be expected of a given device, whether or not it meets certain international standards for design, implementing technologies and, above all, safety at work.
The fundamental standard which has, in fact, become a sort of an obligatory requirement in each special-purpose device, is the ISO 9001 certification, which applies to the complete quality management system implemented in companies. This certification aims above all to improve standards and facilitate understanding and compliance with all of the customer’s needs regarding the services or products offered.
The primary requirements enabling the ISO 9001 certificate to be awarded include supervision over the company documentation, engaging persons in managerial positions in the development of the quality management system, systematised management of company’s own resources, specification of the simple processes of providing products/services, and, last but not least, careful continuous measurement of the implemented changes and customer satisfaction.
The ISO 9001 ensures, above all, the highest quality of products, which in the case of wire rope winches means: precisely specified designs, employing materials of suitable quality, and adapting the process of manufacturing to the applicable regulations that guarantee the highest level of safety for the operators.
While the above-mentioned certificate applies to general assumptions, there are also two specialist certificates that are of particular importance for devices operating in explosive atmospheres and in the high seas.
If winches are used in explosion hazard areas, the ATEX certification is of crucial importance. Passed by the European Union in 1994 (as amended), this directive specifies the rules for designing machines operating in explosive atmospheres (mines, high dust areas, etc.).
This directive contains, among others, stipulations on early ignition warning systems, protection against producing sparks, and prompt reaction to hazards present, including the provision of appropriate equipment for the operating personnel for the protection of their life and health.
The award of the ATEX certificate is a painstaking procedure requiring very accurate tests and strict compliance with the specification for devices intended for operation in such conditions. This is the reason why the ATEX certificate guarantees safety when the equipment is used in high explosion hazard conditions.
In the case of winches for use in the high seas, compliance with the International Convention of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is critical. The rules contained therein provide instructions for ensuring good working order of devices in marine conditions, which includes appropriate standards of water resistance and operation at various levels of ambient salinity.
Not only do these standards specify the degree of protection against moisture of such devices (IP standard), but also the use of elements that increase the safety of operation and preserve good working order of the equipment for a long time. This applies, for instance, to suitably designed motors, such as the Totally Enclosed, Non Ventilated (TENV) motors, and to anti-corrosive coatings used on all pieces of equipment exposed to moisture, particularly in the marine environment.
Safe operation of wire rope winches
Wire rope winches are devices essential in a range of applications, from small car workshops, through mooring equipment on ships, to devices used for lifting multi-ton loads. Again and again, the utility of wire rope winches is tested in extremely unfavourable conditions, which requires the employment of suitable design standards concerning the selection of manufacturing technologies and materials to be used during production.
In conclusion, the customer must specify the requirements before making the purchase, as only then can the device be dedicated to the operational demands, thereby increasing the safety of all persons within the range of operation.
Bill Aitken, Managing Director, Red Rooster Industrial
34 years of experience in the lifting equipment industry
Red Rooster Industrial – with over 25 years of experience, we specialise in the development, manufacturing, sale, rental, and servicing of lifting equipment. Serving clients in 36 countries, Red Rooster’s branches are located in Scotland, Poland, and England.