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Understanding The Operating Principle of Hoists

Understanding The Operating Principle of Hoists

Understanding The Operating Principle of Hoists

Hoists are an essential tool for lifting and moving heavy objects in a wide range of industries, from construction and manufacturing to mining and transportation. Understanding the operating principle of hoists is crucial for ensuring their safe and efficient use. In this blog post, we will delve into the basics of hoists, including the different types of hoists, their components, and how they work. By the end of this post, you will have a solid grasp of the operating principle of hoists and be able to make informed decisions about which hoist is best suited for your needs.

Manual Chain Hoist

Manual chain hoists convert a low force with a long travel input into a high force with a short travel output. This is the reason for their slow operation. They use multiple gears with varying numbers of teeth inside their lifting mechanism, which is activated by repeatedly pulling the hand chain. This principle is in charge of completing the task of lifting a heavy object.

Manual Chain Hoists


By hooking or mounting it on a rigid and sturdy structural frame, a manual chain hoist is suspended above the object to be lifted. It has two chains: the hand chain, which is pulled by hand, and the load chain, which is made of high-strength material (for example, steel) and is used to lift the load. The hand chain is significantly longer than the load chain. A grab hook is first attached to the object to be lifted. The worker pulls the hand chain several times while standing a safe distance away from the load. As the worker pulls on the hand chain, the cog turns, causing the driveshaft to rotate. The force is transmitted by the driveshaft into a series of gears with varying tooth counts.

The torque is transmitted from fast-moving, smaller gears to slow-moving, larger gears, concentrating the force. This force rotates the sprocket, which pulls the load chain and the object together. The load chain is looped around the sprocket as it shortens and vertically displaces the object.

A manual chain hoist’s ratchet is located on the back of the cog. It acts as a brake for the manual chain hoist. The clutch engages the ratchet’s teeth, preventing the cog from slipping on the load’s side. The clutch disengages from the ratchet as the cog rotates in the opposite direction, allowing the hoist to lower the load.

Manual chain hoists have been phased out in order to reduce the need for human intervention in lifting tasks. This is now possible thanks to electric hoists. The lifting medium used by electric hoists is a chain or a wire rope.

Lever Hoist

The lever hoist’s handle is connected to a block, which has its own internal ratchet and gear mechanism. They work by cranking the lever vertically to power the ratchets. Lever Hoists have the ability to lift items in most positions, including horizontally. Different from the Chain Block or Hoist, which can only lift items vertically, the Lever Hoist’s ability to lift items horizontally is a great benefit.

A collection of lever hoists

A Level Hoist is typically equipped with a heavy-duty safety cap to comfortably hold the items and a top swivel connection for easy lifting from all angles. The hand wheel can then be turned to release or retract the required chain length. When the chain is in the neutral position, the ratchet lever attached to the side of the lever hoist allows it to move freely. When in the up position, it tightens the chain and allows the load to be lifted with tension.

Finally, crank the heavy-duty lever until the load is at the appropriate height.

To lower the load, the ratchet lever must be switched to the downward position and the heavy-duty lever cranked to lower the chain.

Electric Chain Hoist

The lifting medium in electric chain hoists is a load chain. A motor pulls the load chain, converting electrical energy to mechanical energy that is used to lift the load. The electric hoist motor is enclosed in a heat-dissipating shell, which is usually made of aluminium. The hoist motor has a cooling fan to quickly dissipate heat during continuous service and to allow it to operate in hot environments.

A collection of electric hoists

The lifting medium in electric chain hoists is a load chain. A motor pulls the load chain, converting electrical energy to mechanical energy that is used to lift the load. The electric hoist motor is enclosed in a heat-dissipating shell, which is usually made of aluminium. The hoist motor has a cooling fan to quickly dissipate heat during continuous service and to allow it to operate in hot environments.

A rigid structural frame is used to suspend an electric chain hoist above the object to be lifted. The object is grabbed by a hook attached to the end of the load chain. The worker turns on the hoist motor to begin the lifting operation. The motor includes a brake, which is responsible for stopping the motor or holding its driven load by applying the required torque. During the vertical displacement of the load, the break continuously releases the power supply.

The motor generates torque, which is then transmitted to a series of gears within the gearbox. As the force passes through the series of gears that rotate the chain wheel to pull the load, it is concentrated. The length of the load chain is collected inside a chain bag as the object rises above the ground, which is typically made of a high wear-resistant textile (e.g., nylon, ABS) or a plastic bucket. The chain bag must ensure that the chains are not entangled and can slide freely. Lubrication is required for the load chain to run smoothly and safely.

When the load on an electric chain hoist exceeds the load rating, a limit switch signals the motor to stop automatically. When the load is attached to a trolley, they can move it from one location to another. The worker can control the load positioning as well as the emergency stop via the controller.

Electric chain hoists require less maintenance and are simpler to install than electric wire rope hoists. They can be used in a variety of situations. Electric chain hoists are a cost-effective option.

Electric Wire Rope Hoist

Electric wire rope hoists use a wire rope as the lifting medium to lift loads. Wire ropes are made up of a core that runs through the middle of the rope and several strands of wire that are intertwined around the core. This method results in a stronger composite rope. Carbon steel, stainless steel, Monel, and bronze wire ropes are commonly used in hoisting applications because of their high resistance to wear, fatigue, abrasion, and corrosion.


Electric wire rope hoists, like electric chain hoists, have a hoist motor with a built-in braking system. They also use a series of gears within a gearbox to increase the transmitted torque from the motor. A spline shaft receives the concentrated force from the gearbox. The winding drum is then rotated by the spline shaft. The wire rope is wound around the winding drum as it is pulled to vertically displace the load.

The rope guide moves around the winding drum to properly position the wire rope in the grooves that run helically on the winding drum’s lateral. The rope guide keeps the wire rope from becoming tangled. Lubrication is also required for the wire rope.

Electric wire rope hoists have nearly the same positioning controllers and safety features as electric chain hoists.

Electric wire rope hoists are capable of lifting heavier loads at greater heights. They are frequently used in heavy-duty and high-speed lifting applications. They are more capable of lifting and supporting loads for extended periods of time. However, in some cases, wire ropes may not be as durable as load chains. In addition, they are more expensive than electric chain hoists.


Winches and hoists are used to safely and easily lift or move heavy loads. Despite having similar functions, they are designed to perform different tasks. Winches, as opposed to hoists, are designed to move loads horizontally over inclines and flat surfaces.


A winch’s construction is very similar to that of a hoist. They are mechanical mechanisms that wind cable to generate sufficient tension to pull or drag heavy objects. Winches, like hoists, can be operated manually or electrically and have a steel drum with a cable wrapped around it.

Winches have a gear braking mechanism that holds a load in place when the pull of the cable stops. This is especially helpful on inclines. A hoist is hooked to a load vertically and pulls a load straight up with the wire rope or chain secured to the load with a sling, load mechanism, or other form of device.

The hook on a winch attaches directly to the load to be moved. When it is being connected, its locking mechanism is disengaged while its cable is pulled out by the operator and hooked to the load. In many cases, the hook may be placed through a section of the load and hooked to the cable where the cable serves as a type of sling. This configuration is forbidden with hoists.

When a winch drum is activated, its motor gradually pulls until the desired tension is reached. It is critical that the load capacity of the winch and its cable be followed because a cable snap or break can cause serious harm to anyone standing nearby.
People who are unfamiliar with the distinction between winches and hoists are frequently perplexed. The terms are frequently used interchangeably. The difference between the two can be summed up in their function. A hoist raises vertically, whereas a winch draws horizontally. These fundamental functions are further distinguished by the components of each mechanism.

Winches can be used as a lifting mechanism for light loads by using a pulley or set of pulleys. For floor-mounted winches, the cable is threaded up to a pulley and down to a load, allowing the winch to perform a vertical lift. Other types of winches can be mounted on beams or walls and connected to a pulley mechanism, and they can be operated electrically or manually.

High capacity winches with kilonewton capacities ranging from 10 to 15 kN to over 200 kN can be found in shipyards. Shipyard winches are available in a variety of configurations with one or more drums.

At Hercules we stock a wide variety of hoists. Our brands include Tractel, Kito and Columbus Mckinnon.
Let us help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing a hoist for your next lift!

Already have a hoist that need servicing? Our inspectors are the best in the business and here to keep you safe and compliant! 

Call us Toll Free at: 1 (877) 461-4876 or stop by your nearest Hercules Branch.


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Leading supplier of wire rope, wire rope slings, chain slings, synthetic slings, synthetic rope, trawl warp, guy strand and much more.

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Providing industry with quality machining and millwright services since 1975.