Tag: Lodestar

Taking Entertainment Rigging Training to New Heights

Taking Entertainment Rigging Training to New Heights


1 outdoor trusstilson rope skills

In the entertainment industry, rigging can be both a challenging and dangerous task. To help provide entertainment professionals with hands-on rigging experience, Robert Lannon of RPL Building Services, LLC, kicked off his first Rigging Climbing Camp in June of this year. Sponsored by Atlanta Rigging Systems and held at Southeastern Rope Access Training Facilities in Atlanta, Georgia, the three-day course was designed to teach basic climbing, rigging and aerial platform operation to entertainment professionals to prepare them for real-world rigging scenarios.

“Most of the riggers I know had no training whatsoever the first time they stepped out on a beam, pulled a point or drove a lift,” said Dave Gittens of Atlanta Rigging Systems. “The first place a rigger performs any of those tasks should not be in an arena roof structure. That was the motivation for this class.”

Twelve entertainment professionals attended the camp, including myself and CMCO’s Entertainment Business Development Specialist, Jennifer O’Leary. We kicked off the training by first discussing personal protective equipment, including harnesses, lanyards and helmets, as well as fall protection, structure climbing and beam walking. We also learned rope access techniques, including ascending, changeovers, descending and edge negotiations.

Other critical skills covered during the hands-on training included:

  • Utilizing motor control systems
  • Moving trusses
  • Rope management
  • Rescue pick offs from a structure
  • Aerial platform operation, including scissor and boom lifts

Using a 30 foot truss supplied by Atlanta Rigging, we pulled together everything we learned to conduct beam walks, climb a wire rope ladder, use horizontal life lines and rappel from the top of the structure. As we got more comfortable navigating the structure, product and tasks, you could see everyone push themselves and gain confidence in their skills.

Columbus McKinnon rigging training is a perfect complement to Rigging Climbing Camp, educating attendees on rigging fundamentals, safety practices, regulations and inspection techniques. When paired with the hands-on experience provided by the Rigging Climbing Camp, entertainment professionals will have a well-rounded understanding of proper rigging practices as well as real-life rigging situations and challenges encountered at entertainment venues.

To see our full selection of material handling products for the entertainment industry, visit www.cm-et.com.

Ken Tilson
Ken Tilson is our Entertainment Vertical Market Specialist at Columbus McKinnon Corporation.
Recent Sight and Sound Theatre Installation Incorporates the Latest of American Technology

Recent Sight and Sound Theatre Installation Incorporates the Latest of American Technology



Sight and Sound Theatre, the largest faith-based theatre in America, partnered with Mountain Productions to complete a full and permanent hoist/motor installation at their Lancaster County, PA theatre.  Using all American Made chain hoists provided by Columbus McKinnon, Mountain Productions prepared and coordinated the package for ease of installation, while Motion Labs provided the electrics, controllers and programming. Sight and Sound continues its tradition of using the most state-of-the-art equipment to maintain the highest quality productions for which the theatre is famous.

D8+ Chain Hoists are the hoist of choice in theatre applications.

Sight and Sound selected our new model Lodestar D8 chain hoists, (1 ton -Model L – and 1/2 ton – Model F), featuring a double brake on each hoist.  The Lodestar D8 is legendary in the industry, and we have recently added several features to the hoist, further ensuring steady and reliable operation.

Along with the Lodestar D8 units, Prostar chain hoists were also installed. The Prostar is a lighter, quieter and more portable hoist that is designed for unique rigging applications in tight quarters. Combined, the Lodestar D8 and Prostar offer versatility, allowing for a variety of rigging configurations at the theatre.

The motor control and load monitoring systems were supplied by Motion Laboratories, a cutting edge company known for their high quality power distribution and motor control systems. The state-of-the-art PLC touchscreen system handles motor control and load monitoring at the theatre. The ability to program specific presets into the system makes the PLC an efficient motor control/load monitoring solution. Sight and Sound’s professional riggers will be able to lower and raise loads with ease, and rely on the system’s precision to always keep equipment on point.  Load Cells will be used for accurate load monitoring, supporting the safety of the system.

New rigging grid reduces maintenance time and show preparation.

One of the key benefits of this system is the amount of time the theatre will save on maintenance and preparation for shows. Glen Broderson from Sight and Sound led his team in making the decision to install the new rigging grid. He expressed how much easier it will be to pinpoint individual electrics for maintenance thanks to the soft limit system. This also makes prep time between productions quicker and more convenient. “With the new system, going from a 40 ft trim to a 30 ft trim is just a push of a few buttons,” Glen shared. The whole process has been valuable to Glen and his team.  Everyone is excited to see how the theatre will use the installation in future productions.

Sight and Sound Theatre

Always striving to push the envelope with new technology and productions, the Sight and Sound Theatre remains an innovator in the theatrical industry. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, consider checking out their latest production of Noah. 

Thank you to Mountain Productions, for sharing this application story and to the Sight & Sound Theatre  for use of their photography.  For more original photos of this installation, check out  Mountain Productions’ Blog.

Five Intense Days at CM-ET Mega School: An Alumni Review

Five Intense Days at CM-ET Mega School: An Alumni Review

CM-ET Mega School

We love to talk about our entertainment training. We believe in teaching people how to be safer in their work environments. As much as I enjoy hearing stories from our training team, what gives me even greater pleasure is hearing this same enthusiasm echoed from one of our attendees.

Bart Wells from Cory’s Audio Visual Services recently attended our CM Entertainment Mega School. We hosted 45 attendees for 5 days together with instructors from across the country. Bart’s comments really grabbed my attention. But rather than me tell the story, I will let Bart do it himself:

CM-ET Mega SchoolIf you have ever considered attending a manufacturer hosted workshop or training seminar then you know that you run the risk of signing up for a ‘Sales Pitch’ with some education tossed in. Rest assured that if you attended the CM Entertainment Mega School – a 5-day hoist, truss, and rigging seminar – it is 100% education without any ‘selling’ going on the entire week.

“The week begins with a 2-day intensive ‘dive’ into the Lodestar electric chain hoist. Dave Carmack walks you, step by step, through every moving and electrical part of the hoist. Dave’s intimate knowledge of the hoist’s design, engineering and construction make it easy for him to demystify the hoist and allow every student to feel comfortable pulling it apart and putting it back together again.

“With the Road Technician Certification Class (RTC Class) the end of the second day brings an exam. If you passed, you will be rewarded with a CM certification identifying you as a qualified CM Motor Technician. This IS NOT a “gimme” course with a certification that is guaranteed just because you attend. The test is difficult and people do fail. But if you pay attention you will get all the information you need to pass from Dave.

“Day 3 covers truss theory and safe working practices with truss, taught by the president of James Thomas Engineering, Tray Allen.

“Days 4 and 5
are a formula filled frenzy of safe rigging practices, fall protection and rigging calculations. Eric Rouse shares his knowledge of theatrical and aerial rigging while easily relating it to the arena environment as well. His honest approach to safe and practical rigging practices provides the understanding that we are responsible for knowing our craft and keeping ourselves and our peers safe.

“Perhaps the most exciting part of the course is the math. Eric presents the most common formulas that are used in calculating bridal lengths as well as being able to provide load, force and tension calculations for any scenario. This overview provides attendees with the tools to not only “know” that something is safe, but to be able to back it up with numbers.

“In the end the CM Entertainment Mega School is truly a week of education. The instructors are working members of the industry, not salesmen. If you come to the course with the intention of learning 5 new things, you will leave the course with a great deal more than you ever expected. Do not miss the opportunity to become a better, safer and more educated member of the entertainment industry. Attend a CM-ET Mega School this year.”

Barton Wells
Cory’s Audio Visual Services

Helpful CM Entertainment Links:
The LDI Show and Stories from Vegas That We Can Share
What is Wrong with this Entertainment Application?
CM Entertainment Website
CM Entertainment on Twitter

Gisela Clark
Gisela Clark is an eMarketing Specialist for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.
The LDI Show and Stories from Vegas That We Can Share

The LDI Show and Stories from Vegas That We Can Share


Last weekend Columbus McKinnon attended the 25th LDI show in Las Vegas and it was an event to remember. The show featured product innovations and refinements in lighting, sound, projection, special effects and more. Attendance at the show was the highest we have seen in the last three years. Whether you were there or not, below are five valuable nuggets from the show that you may have missed:

  • Innovative Products that were previewed and demonstrated during the three-day show, as written by Frank Hammel of PLSN News.
  • Daily in-depth commentary by Miles Dudgeon from Live Design called “Walking The LDI Show Floor.” Miles makes you feel like you are right there with him and includes many interesting observations.
  • Do you wish you had taken some snapshots to remember your time at LDI? If so, regret no more. Check out the images from #ldi #ldi2012 shared via @livedesignmag
  • Are you curious to know the recipients of the LDI 2012 Awards? If so, here is a complete  listing as presented this week at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
  • Last but not least, our big news at Columbus McKinnon is the launch of our new CM Entertainment website. It proved to be a crowd pleaser at LDI. Check it out and let us know what you think.

We look forward to bringing you more great products, services and training in the years to come!

Gisela Clark
Gisela Clark is an eMarketing Specialist for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.
Our Answer to this Week’s Post, “What’s wrong with this Entertainment Application?”

Our Answer to this Week’s Post, “What’s wrong with this Entertainment Application?”

Dave Carmack 8-28-12

Thank you, Tim & Harris, for your comments. We also received interesting insights on our Facebook page. You know your rigging!  Here is my take on this application:

This is a wire rope support grid. These 1 foot squares allow a rigger to quickly position light loads in specific spots by dropping in a rope through the appropriate square. The anchor point is fixed up above the structure. Notice the strap in the background.

Let’s now address the problems:

  • The thing that jumped out  most to me was the construction of the grid.  The wire ropes must be woven or knitted together.  These were not.  Each overlap should alternate over and under.  This installation has all the ropes in the same direction and on the same side.  The weaving should run in the x and y directions.
  • U-bolts are used to connect each overlap. Since the grid installation itself is wrong, U-bolts are not an acceptable option. U-bolts are typically used for light weight or minor connections such as conduit to a pole. I do not think that you could get the clamping force needed using U-bolts to keep the wire rope cables from slipping under a side force. Wire rope clamps are designed for use with cables.
  • A few of you observed the missing nut on one of the U-bolt assemblies. Nice catch.

When a wire rope support grid is assembled correctly, it transfers the stresses.  When the grid is assembled like in this application, the neighboring ropes are not supporting anything, which can lead to very unfavorable consequences.

We are passionate about education and training.  If you would like to tap into training opportunities in the entertainment field, click here to see our schedule.

Thank you again to everyone who submitted comments. We love to hear from you!  Do you have an application you would like us to review?



Dave Carmack
Dave is a Product Trainer for our CM Entertainment Division. Other credentials include being an ETCP Recognized Trainer & IATSE TTF Recommended Trainer.
What is Wrong with this Entertainment Application?

What is Wrong with this Entertainment Application?

Below is a picture of a wire rope support grid from an entertainment venue. Can you tell us what is wrong with this picture?  Post your ideas in the comments section of our blog. We will post our answer on Friday morning.

Dave Carmack 8-28-12

Dave Carmack
Dave is a Product Trainer for our CM Entertainment Division. Other credentials include being an ETCP Recognized Trainer & IATSE TTF Recommended Trainer.
When Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band* go on tour, the American Made CM Lodestar goes with them!

When Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band* go on tour, the American Made CM Lodestar goes with them!


A Bruce Springsteen tour is an experience celebrated by fans around the world. At 62, Springsteen still knows how to rock the stage and give his audience a memorable show. During a time when entertainers are searching for a more intimate venue, Springsteen has made the experience for his fans up close and personal. How does he achieve this intimacy? With a state-of-the-art acoustic system including CM Lodestar electric chain hoists.

Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball Tour is a huge production consisting of 17 musicians, tons of acoustic gear (literally), wireless microphones, IEMS, and perfectly orchestrated logistics to make sure everything happens at the right time. For their rigging needs, the tour’s production team utilizes (9) two ton and (25) one ton CM Lodestar chain hoists.

Below are some reasons why the Lodestar is the hoist of choice in entertainment:

  • Meets international standards with the clutch outside of the gear train;
  • Quieter Operation with its precision helical gearing;
  • Less Maintenance with its heavy duty DC Brake and lifetime grease-lubricated Gear Box;
  • Easy Access to the control panel for quick voltage changes.

Interested in learning more about the internal components of the Lodestar? Check out this presentation.


For a detailed description of the rigging and acoustic set-up designed for Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” tour, please read Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band* by George Petersen, in the May 2012 issue of FOH Magazine.

Gisela Clark
Gisela Clark is an eMarketing Specialist for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.
Where’s your CM?

Where’s your CM?

Although I have only been at Columbus McKinnon for 5 years, our company has been designing and manufacturing hoists and rigging products for over 135 years. Brands like CM, Yale, Coffing, Little Mule, Duff-NortonBudgitShaw-Box, Chester, Dixie, Cady, and Camlok (all of which are from Columbus McKinnon) continue to be recognized as providing superior material handling products to companies around the world.

No matter what facility I visit, I can usually find a product from Columbus McKinnon. Sometimes I see our products when I least expect it. While visiting the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine, I noticed the bell on the Sherman Zwicker (a 1942 schooner) was hanging on a CM shackle.

Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine 1 Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine 2

I also saw a CM Lodestar being used on a dock to unload lobster boats.

Lobster Boats

Although this picture is not a shining example of how to maintain and attach a hoist to a jib (or in this case a pipe), it is just another example of our products being everywhere. (By the way, we do offer training classes on crane and hoist maintenance and proper rigging techniques!)

So we would like to know “WHERE’S YOUR CM”!

You can post your CMCO product pictures on our facebook fan page wall or e-mail them to cmcolive@cmworks.com with a short description of where the picture was taken. Do you use any of our products? Are they in your facility? Maybe you’ve seen our hoists used at concerts to hold up the lighting truss system or our chain and binders used to tie down products on truck trailers. Regardless of the use, we want to see our products in action.  WHERE’S YOUR CM?

This post was written by Stacie Wingfield, former Director of Marketing for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

New CM Lodestar Hoist Addresses Maintenance Downtime for Plants

New CM Lodestar Hoist Addresses Maintenance Downtime for Plants

Industrial Lodestar We are proud to announce our newly designed CM Lodestar® Electric Chain Hoist in capacities from 1/8 to 3 tons. Lodestar – iconic in name and legendary in performance – is recognized as the standard in the overhead lifting industry. Generations of users have relied on the Lodestar electric chain hoist for consistent operation throughout its long service life. With a history of unsurpassed performance and over a million units sold, the next generation of Lodestar continues this legacy.

The hoist boasts numerous features that set it apart from other hoists in this category:

  • The real benefit is less maintenance required through a Heavy-Duty DC brake for long service life, a lifetime grease-lubricated Gear Box eliminating the need for oil changes and a clutch outside the gear box for easy access and reduced downtime.
  • Easier access – the hoist boasts finger-safe wiring and plug-and-play connectors in an open design; allowing for quick voltage change and access to terminal strips and simple fuse installation.
  • The CM Lodestar is quieter – a full 80% sound reduction as compared to the Classic Lodestar
  • Clutch placement outside the load path not only prevents slipping of the load in an overload condition, but makes it easy to access.  This quick access helps reduce hoist downtime.
  • The CM Lodestar comes standard with a fabric chain container and a rigid hook suspension.
  • Features a LIFETIME WARRANTY and is Made in the USA.
  • Eco-friendly – no disposing of hazardous oils after oil change, RoHS compliant and shipped in recycled material boxes.

This post was written by Joshua Karczewski, former Distributor Marketing & Product Launch Manager for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

Entertainment Technology and the Business of the Arts

Entertainment Technology and the Business of the Arts

Business of the Arts

In today’s challenging economy where competition is fierce in almost every market, it is important to concentrate efforts in areas that some observers may classify as “non-traditional.” One of these areas is the business of the Arts. By continuing to stay on the cutting edge of entertainment technology, and with hard work and innovation, we are striving to satisfy the wide-ranging needs of the Arts industry.

The Entertainment Innovation Conference began three years ago by bringing together major players in the Arts business. Through the efforts of Cirque du Soleil, Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, University of North Carolina School for the Arts (UNCSA), and the Technical Partners (Stage Technologies, Coolux, Vari-lite and Meyer Sound), the conference is now a resounding success. The program, particularly due to the dedication of Cirque du Soleil and UNCSA, has raised the bar for other training programs such as USITT Elite.

For the second year, CM-ET partnered with eight other organizations in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with one goal in mind; to help to build a stronger and brighter future for participants in the entertainment industry. More than 300 participants from seven states attended the conference this year, with students arriving from as far away as Arizona. Students were taught subjects ranging from Stage Management to Hoist Repair, Stage and Sound Design, Props and Rigging to proper use of all equipment from a professional and practical point of view.

“This is a big deal in higher education” said Joe Tilford, the Dean of UNCSA’s School of Design and Production. “This is like MIT partnering with some big technology group. This is a game-changer in higher education and the entertainment field.”

“Our students have an amazing level of dedication. When you have 50 freshmen who have already confirmed a major, that’s just amazing,” says Dennis Booth, Assistant Dean – Scenic Technology Faculty. “On top of that we have a graduation to employment ratio of 98.9%.”

Jonathan Robertson, a freshman at UNCSA says, “This is great! Nowhere else will you ever be exposed to the variety of talent and professionalism that we are experiencing this weekend. What I am taking away is priceless.”

No other industry is willing to share like the Arts. It is not a job, it is a passion.

Bridget Van Dyke, third year student at UNCSA says, “This is a valuable educational opportunity for students from UNCSA and around the Southeast. Hands-on workshops covering all aspects of the entertainment industry give us practical opportunities to apply classroom knowledge alongside industry professionals.

Year after year I am amazed by the energy the presenters bring! UNCSA students are known for being passionate and driven, but it’s refreshing to see how that enthusiasm is reflected in the presenters, and their eagerness to connect with the students and learn from them in return.”

Click here to learn more about CM Entertainment Technology.

Dave Carmack
Dave is a Product Trainer for our CM Entertainment Division. Other credentials include being an ETCP Recognized Trainer & IATSE TTF Recommended Trainer.