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Overhead Cranes vs Hoists: Key Differences

  • Post author:Viper WRL
  • Post published:November 15, 2022
  • Post category:Wire Ropes

Overhead cranes and hoists are terms used interchangeably despite both having key distinct differences.

While a hoist and overhead crane may seem similar, it’s essential to understand the differences between the two. This will help you choose the best mechanism for lifting loads. It’ll also help with maintenance needs, whether it’s what action to take yourself or knowing the best way to communicate your issues with someone else. 

So, with all that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the differences between overhead cranes and hoists.

The Main Difference Between Overhead Cranes and Hoists

The main difference between an overhead crane and a hoist is their movement patterns. Overhead cranes transfer bulky loads from side to side or up and down. They move both vertically and horizontally. On the contrary, hoists lift items up and down only on the vertical axis.

Additionally, an overhead crane is the structure and a hoist is mounted onto the crane (fixed or mobile).

A hoist is specifically designed for lifting heavy loads up and down. This is all you need for a mechanism like an elevator, making a hoist a perfect solution in the right circumstances.

An overhead crane allows you to move heavy loads up, down, and sideways. 

A hoist is a component of overhead cranes which allows for vertical movement. An overhead crane’s horizontal movement is created through bridges and a trolley.

Common types of overhead cranes

Top Running Cranes

Top running cranes have a track system or fixed rail installed on the top of each runaway beam. The end trucks can carry both the bridge and hoist along this runway system. These types of overhead cranes can be built with a single or double girder design. A double girder will allow your crane to carry heavier loads but may be an unnecessary expense if you deal in lighter loads.

Under Slung Cranes

Often referred to as an under-hung crane, wheels connect the bridge to the bottom flange of the runway. Usually, this type of crane uses a single girder and is used for lighter loads.

Gantry Cranes

The distinguishing feature of a gantry crane is that it is supported by legs that are either on wheels or rails implanted in the ground. These are commonly seen in outdoor areas or for lifting below an existing overhead crane system.

Monorail Cranes

A monorail crane operates on a stationary track that the trolley moves along to carry loads to predetermined locations. Perfect for linear tasks that you’ll frequently repeat (a factory setting, for example) and, in this scenario, can increase productivity.

Common Types of Hoists

When differentiating hoists, each type can be defined by three categories: Lifting medium, power, and suspension. Let’s take a closer look at these factors:

Lifting Medium

Various materials can be used for a hoist. The lifting medium refers to the flexible material connecting the overhead body of the hoist to the load hook. Some of the most common lifting medium materials include:

  • Rope
  • Metal cable
  • Roller Load Chain
  • Welded Link Chain

Power Hoists

Hoists can be powered manually, pneumatically, hydro or with electric motors. Here’s a brief rundown of each option:

Manual Hoist

A manual hoist will utilize a gear system and pulley to provide extra lifting power.

Wire rope hoists

A wire rope hoist will lift heavier loads off the ground.

Electric Hoists

Powered by electricity, there’s a convenience factor not found in a manual hoist (especially when used frequently).Overheating an electric motor is risky, especially if you exceed the recommended weight limit or frequency with which you use your machine. To avoid this, it’s best to find an electric hoist powerful enough to suit your needs.

Pneumatical Hoist (AIR Hoists)

A pneumatical (or air) hoist is powered by compressed air. These are best suited in work environments that already have compressed air power available. (Mining, small workshops)

The best way to power your hoist will depend on your situation. A factory with plenty of air tools would be a perfect place to use an air-powered hoist, whereas this would be impractical in other places. Consider what you’re using your hoist for and how often to help determine the best type of power system for you.

Important Considerations for Your Lifting Equipment

Now that you understand the difference between overhead cranes and hoists, learn how to extend the life of your machinery with wire rope maintenance. Proper wire rope care is vital for rope health and safety.

For example, regular wire rope maintenance and lubrication help prevent serious and expensive damage to your lifting equipment down the line while extending its life expectancy. 

How to extend the lifespan of your lifting ropes:

  • Inspect Your Ropes Regularly

Keeping an eye on your ropes for any frays, splits, or damage could be the key to catching a potential problem.

  • Store Your Ropes Properly

How you look after your ropes when you’re not using them can be just as important when it comes to expanding their service life.

  • Clean Your Ropes

Whether you work indoors or out, it won’t take long for dust, mud, and debris to build up on your ropes which will affect their functionality and cause damage.

  • Lubricate Your Ropes

Lubricating your crane wire ropes helps them to function properly and extends their lifespan significantly. The best wire rope grease needs to be light enough to penetrate towards the core of the rope but pliable enough to adhere to the surface.

A wire rope lubricator will help prevent corrosion, reduce friction, and help your ropes last longer by ensuring the lubricant can penetrate effectively. The Viper WRL Mid MKII range of wire rope lubricators, which will provide a safer, easier, and more efficient way to maintain your wires.

Whether you’re looking for a more straightforward and effective solution for your wire rope lubrication or want to learn more about our range, get in touch today.

Otherwise, browse our MKII wire rope lubricators today.