Author: Troy Raines

Troy Raines is the Chain & Rigging Product Engineering Manager at our CMCO Chattanooga Forge Operations.
Rigging Manufacturing: Why Forge Parts Versus Cast?

Rigging Manufacturing: Why Forge Parts Versus Cast?

Jason, a product engineer and recent rigging safety webinar attendee, asks:

“Why or when would a rigging equipment manufacturer choose to use the forging method versus the casting method?”

Troy Raines, Chain & Rigging Product Engineering Manager at our CMCO Chattanooga Forge Operations, responds:

Please be patient with me, as I use the word “mold” as a general reference to all tooling used in both the casting and forging processes.

The forging method is appropriate when a manufacturer is:rigging

  • (To a large extent) making solid parts. Forged parts can have open sides, through-cavities and pierced holes; however, certain design considerations, such as a draft angle for mold release, have to be taken into account.
  • Producing high quantities of parts when an investment in tooling can be justified.
  • Needing smaller, lighter parts. Parts can be smaller and lighter due to increased strength, toughness and ductility.

The casting method is appropriate when a manufacturer is:

  • Concerned about high tooling costs or a large mold inventory. Cast tooling is less expensive and disposable.
  • Looking to eliminate draft angles. Draft angles are incorporated in the mold to allow the part to be removed from the mold. With casting, the mold can be considered disposable or sacrificial. So, because the mold will be destroyed, it eliminates the need for draft angles. Cast tooling is also cheaper, but it only makes one part before being sacrificed.
  • Minimizing required secondary operations because casting allows manufacturers to start closer to the finished shape.

Conclusion

Forged parts are always better for rigging equipment because of their part size (same strength from a smaller part), weight, strength, toughness and ductility properties. Cast parts are larger, heavier, weaker, more brittle and require more expensive inspection techniques due to the probability of internal defects. Unfortunately, many rigging manufacturers have resorted to cast rigging hardware because they have hammer size limitations. For years, even Columbus McKinnon has limited the size of its rigging hardware because of its desire to only have its name on forged rigging products.

With our recent acquisition of Stahlhammer Bommern (STB), we are now able to forge some of the largest rigging hardware in the world. I’m very excited about the possibilities. In addition, we now offer new high-capacity forged rigging hooks with capacities up to 60 tons. Check out our latest video to learn more!

Additional Resources:
Download our Heavy Duty Crane Hook Brochure
View our Safety Webinar: The Forging Process – Manufacturing Heavy Duty Hooks 

Troy Raines
Troy Raines is the Chain & Rigging Product Engineering Manager at our CMCO Chattanooga Forge Operations.
Load Securement: Ratchet Binder vs. Lever Binder

Load Securement: Ratchet Binder vs. Lever Binder

People frequently ask, “Which type of chain binder should I use?”

Being an engineer gives my outlook on life an odd slant. I frequently think of things in terms of simple machines and how they can make my life better. Where am I going with this and how do simple machines relate to chain binder selection? Let me explain.

What is a chain binder?

Also known as a load binder, chain binders are tools used to tighten chain when securing a load for transport. There are two basic styles of chain binders – lever binders and ratchet binders. The method of tightening the binder is what differentiates the two.

Lever Binders

Lever BinderA lever binder is made up of a simple machine, a lever, with a tension hook on each end. The lever is used to increase the force applied to a tie down. The lever is hinged and takes up the slack by pulling on one end of the tension hook and will lock itself after a 180-degree rotation of the lever around the hinge. Some of the advantages of choosing a lever-type binder include:

  • Easy installation
  • Fewer moving parts (less maintenance)
  • Quick means to secure and release.

Ratchet Binders

chain binderA ratchet binder uses two types of simple machines and has two tension hooks on each end and handle. The handle again serves as a lever plus there is the screw thread. Having both simple machines can multiply the force manually applied to the tie down assembly.

When using a ratchet binder, the lever and screw work together and increase the force manually applied to the tie-down assembly. The result is that it takes much less pulling force on the handle to apply tension than you would need with a lever binder.

Ratchets also allow for slower, steadier loading and unloading of forces. This reduces any undue stress or strain on your body. Since ratchet binders are designed with a gear, handle, pawl and end fittings, they will not store up as much energy in the handle as a lever binder will.

Another advantage of ratchet binders is that take-up is safer. The take-up distance of a ratchet binder is typically eight to ten inches – twice that of a lever binder. While take up with a ratchet binder may take a few extra minutes, it is more controlled and ultimately a safer process.

Learn more about our domestic ratchet binders and our newest import ratchet binder.

In Conclusion

Both lever binders and ratchet binders work in a similar fashion and should be chosen based on the preference of the operator. As with any type of load securement gear, safe practices need to be followed, including:

  • Always wear gloves to maintain a good grip on the binder handle.
  • Never use cheater bars on the handle in an attempt to increase the tie down tension. Cheater bars can put excessive force on the tie down. This force can be enough to damage or even break the tie down. This energy may be further increased by shifting loads. The stored energy resulting from this force could injure you or someone nearby.
  • Ensure that the lever binder is fully locked and make sure the load doesn’t shift after it is applied.
  • When releasing lever binders, stay clear of the handle to avoid any potential kickback.
  • Specifically on ratchet binders, don’t rush the ratcheting process. Slow and steady is the best way to tension.
Troy Raines
Troy Raines is the Chain & Rigging Product Engineering Manager at our CMCO Chattanooga Forge Operations.
Why Use RFID in Material Handling?

Why Use RFID in Material Handling?

RFID in material handling
Is there anyone out there who’s having to do more with less? Do you have a large inventory to manage or equipment to inspect, and all of it requiring thorough documentation to comply with regulations? Are you having a difficult time finding a good inspector or ensuring your inspectors are doing a quality job?

Well, good news, RFID tagged rigging hardware and hoists can help with all these issues and more. Let’s start with what RFID is and how it works.

An Overview of RFID in Material Handling

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and it is now being used on almost everything. There are RFID badges for security and time clocks. There is an RFID chip in my dog in case he gets lost or stolen. RFID chips are even available in rigging hardware and on hoists. There are two main types of RFID chips: active and passive. Active chips are larger, have a longer read range, and are battery powered. Passive chips can be as small as a grain of rice, have a shorter read range, and are remotely powered.

There are many reasons why passive RFID chips are better suited to rigging hardware and hoists. Size is an obvious one. The smaller a chip is, the smaller the equipment it can be mounted in. The short read range makes the inspector actually touch the equipment being inspected, so there is no confusing the item being inspected with other nearby products. Passive RFID chips are also super tough and durable. Rigging hardware and hoists can be banged up, dropped and virtually destroyed and the chips still work flawlessly.

The Benefits of RFID Inspection

So how does RFID help you do more with less? One of the biggest selling points for RFID rigging hardware and hoists is how much faster and efficient it can make the inspection process.

Imagine this: an inspector merely touches the RFID chip in a shackle, chain sling or hoist with an RFID reader and he/she can instantly see the product’s serial number, description, traceability code, working load limit, size, certificates of compliance and origin (some material handling product manufacturers even associate this information with the chip and load it to the web for you). In addition to product information, inspectors can see previous inspections complete with pictures and notes, the next scheduled inspection date, inspection criteria, and even information on how to inspect the product.

The inspector can also use the RFID chip and reader to log information from the current inspection he/she is performing, complete with notes and pictures. Recoding the information can happen right at the point of inspection with a tablet or laptop. There isn’t any need to record information for someone else to transcribe or log later. That’s a huge time saver!

What about the issue of never having enough good inspectors?

We have already talked about how RFID-based inspection systems save time by allowing fewer inspectors to do more inspections. Have you thought about how much time and money it takes to train an inspector to acceptable levels? RFID systems can decrease training time while increasing inspection accuracy and detail. The ability to have a software package that walks an inspector through the inspection process is beneficial. The software can help identify things the inspector should look for during an inspection and provide acceptance/rejection criteria, pictures of concerns or wear areas from previous inspections for that specific product, and other reference materials to help ensure proper inspection.

Another issue inspectors can run into is not being able to read the serial number or tracking number on the hoist or rigging hardware. Sometimes the serial number can wear off or become difficult to read. With an RFID chip this will never be a problem.

Inventory/Serialization

RFID can also help with tracking and serialization of products. If you have a thousand pieces of rigging hardware or multiple hoists being rented or used in multiple locations, it can make the inventory process so much easier. When you scan an RFID chip, you can record the location of the product. This allows you to easily track its location later. Some RFID inspection software systems can also be designed to directly interface with your business system for automatic billing. There are so many time-saving opportunities!

Are you as excited by the possibilities of RFID as I am? Are you already using a RFID-based system to track the inspections for your hoists and rigging products?

Columbus McKinnon recognizes the value and possibilities for RFID technology in inventory and inspection management, as well as other applications.

Troy Raines
Troy Raines is the Chain & Rigging Product Engineering Manager at our CMCO Chattanooga Forge Operations.
Forging vs. Casting: Which is better?

Forging vs. Casting: Which is better?

forging

This question, “Forging vs. Casting: Which is better?” is one that I have been asked many times. To properly explore the answer, let’s first consider the process of each.

Forging and casting are two very different manufacturing methods. When something is cast the material is heated above its melting temperature and poured into a mold where it solidifies. When something is forged it is physically forced into shape while remaining in a solid state – although it is frequently heated.

As an engineer, I have always known that forgings normally have less surface porosity, finer grain structure, higher tensile strength, better fatigue life/strength, and greater ductility than castings. In other words, forgings are generally better for shackles. The basics of why are pretty simple. When you melt metal to cast it, the grain size is free to expand. When it cools back to a solid, the grain structure is courser and more random, decreasing its strength.

But just how much better is a forging than a casting?

I  did some research on the internet and found an excellent research paper* written by members of the Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering Department at the University of Toledo, shared by the Forging Industry Association. This paper compares a single type of product made both ways. Read it here.

How’s this for hard numbers? No pun intended.

Based on this paper:

  • Forged parts had a 26% higher tensile strength than the cast parts. This means you can have stronger shackles at a lower part weight.
  • Forged parts have a 37% higher fatigue strength resulting in a factor of six longer fatigue life. This means that a forged shackle is going to last longer.
  • Cast iron only has 66% of the yield strength of forged steel. Yield strength is an indicator of what load a shackle will hold before starting to deform.
  • The forged parts had a 58% reduction in area when pulled to failure. The cast parts only had a 6% reduction in area. That means there would be much greater deformation before failure in a forged part.

To further illustrate the point, look at these photos from our in-house testing:

forging

These forged CM shackles show significant deformities before failure.

If you were hanging a load overhead from a shackle, wouldn’t you want that shackle to warn you before it failed? Or do you like surprises?

Fortunately, all of our CM shackles are forged;  and they’re forged right here in America at our Chattanooga, Tennessee Operations. Safer and made in America? I think that I will stick to forgings.  What will you do?

* The title of the research paper is “Fatigue Performance Comparison and Life Predictions of Forged Steel & Ductile Cast Iron Crankshafts” written by Jonathan Williams, Farzin Montazersadgh, and Ali Fatemi, Graduate Assistants and Professor, respectively, Mechanical, Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering Department, The University Of Toledo – Toledo, Ohio.

Troy Raines
Troy Raines is the Chain & Rigging Product Engineering Manager at our CMCO Chattanooga Forge Operations.
What Makes Our American-Made Super Strong Shackle “Super”

What Makes Our American-Made Super Strong Shackle “Super”

Designed and forged in Chattanooga, Tennessee, American made super strong shackle CM Super Strong shackles are carbon-type shackles with strength ratings that are up to 50% stronger than comparable sized carbon shackles. As a result, they are designed with a 6:1 safety design factor.

By using a special blended material, Columbus McKinnon is able to manufacture Super Strong shackles without requiring the quench and temper process. This gives our Super Strong shackles a higher working load limit (WLL) and greater design factor.

Our microalloy material is designed to be air cooled from normal forging temperatures. This air-cooling process eliminates the potential for errors in hardness and strength or quench cracks in the heat treating process.

The strength level of the microalloy forgings will be higher than the normal strength to hardness correlation allowing for greater ductility before failure.  The microalloy has the ability to distribute strain throughout the section more uniformly than conventional steels.  At the same hardness the microalloy will be stronger.

Below are Comparison Testing results of CM Super Strong Shackles versus Standard Carbon Shackles.  While all of the CM shackles performed above their ratings, the Super Strong shackle performance was superior.

 

American-made super strong shackle

Questions often arise about the difference between our Industrial/Government shackles and the Super Strong shackles. An Industrial/Government shackle is a Super Strong shackle de-rated to meet – not exceed – the Federal Specification RR-C-271. That means it has the same dimensions and performance characteristics as a Super Strong shackle but is stamped with specifications to meet government requirements.

Example:
1″ Super Strong shackle will be stamped 10 Ton WLL
1″ Industrial/Government shackle will be stamped 8 1/2 Ton WLL

But don’t just listen to us. Listen to an impartial opinion and see the results of a test performed by Arizona Wire Rope. This distributor tested on a Tonzilla 500,000 lb pull tester comparing the CM Super Strong shackle to our competitor’s shackle. Check out the results for yourself!

We have a full range of sizes and finishes in the Super Strong Shackle product offering. Click here to view our newest CM Shackle Technical Brochure.

Troy Raines
Troy Raines is the Chain & Rigging Product Engineering Manager at our CMCO Chattanooga Forge Operations.