Using Cranes and Hoists in Hazardous Areas Part 2: The Need for Corrosion Resistance

Using Cranes and Hoists in Hazardous Areas Part 2: The Need for Corrosion Resistance

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This article is Part 2 of a 3-part blog series that will provide an overview of safe practices for the use of material handling equipment in hazardous environments. Today, we’ll discuss the need for corrosion resistance.

As we established in Part 1 of this series, lifting equipment used in classified hazardous locations must be compliant with NEC, IEC or other applicable standards. Care should also be taken to ensure mechanical spark resistance for critical components, such as load blocks, hooks, trolley wheels, load brake and lifting mediums like chain and wire rope, in these locations. In addition to spark resistance, corrosion protection for lifting equipment is equally important in these environments to ensure the safety of personnel, equipment and the facility itself.

First, it should be noted that many classified hazardous areas exist outdoors, exposing lifting equipment to direct and often harsh weather. This includes applications such as offshore oil platforms, natural gas processing plants and refineries – to name a few. Specifically in offshore facilities, equipment may be exposed to splash zones, salt spray and the condensation of salt-laden air. In addition to harsh and corrosive weather conditions, sulfur, mineral acids and other corrosive agents are often present in the crude oil and natural gas that is being produced, processed and transported in these facilities, working to further corrode lifting equipment used in these environments.

Corroded pipe Refinery 3The total cost of corrosion can be tremendous, adding up to billions of dollars each year in the oil and gas industry alone. For these companies, the cost of repairing and replacing corroded lifting equipment paired with unscheduled maintenance, downtime and lost production can have a major impact on their profitability. In addition, corroded load blocks, hooks, chains and cables can result in catastrophic equipment failure. Not only can this cause costly damage to equipment and the facility, but most importantly, it can injure or even kill operators and other individuals in the facility.

Chain rusty iron rope

So how do you protect lifting equipment from corrosion?

The use of corrosion-resistant materials for load blocks, hooks, chains, cables and other components is critical. And, since surface corrosion can increase the friction between mating components, corrosion prevention can also be important in maintaining mechanical spark resistance when using these products in classified hazardous environments.
Columbus McKinnon offers a variety of solutions for these challenges, in the form of a wide range lifting products with spark and corrosion resistant materials and coatings. We also offer application engineering assistance to help you determine the right solution for your application. Choose from specially engineered products with:

  • Solid bronze hooks, bottom blocks and trolley wheels
  • Lightweight aluminum housings
  • Stainless steel load and hand chain
  • Multi-coat epoxy finishes
  • Zinc-aluminum corrosion-resistant finish

In addition to corrosion-resistant materials and finishes, we also suggest proper hoist lubrication to prevent sparking. These measures, combined with a robust inspection and preventative maintenance program that includes pre-lift inspections, play a critical role in ensuring the dependability and safe operation of lifting equipment in these harsh environments.

Regardless of your industry or where you do business. Columbus McKinnon has the hoists and cranes to keep your people, materials and equipment safe in hazardous areas. Learn more about our corrosion-resistant products:

Additional Resources:
Using Cranes and Hoists in Hazardous Areas Part 1: The Need for Spark Resistance

Joe Runyon

Joe Runyon is a Vertical Market Specialist for Oil & Gas at Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

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4 Replies to “Using Cranes and Hoists in Hazardous Areas Part 2: The Need for Corrosion Resistance”

  1. Hi Josh,
    We appreciate your feedback. Your comments are spot on! Proper lubrication is probably the single most important thing towards maintaining the performance and safety of a hoist. The specific type of lubricant to be used varies depending on the type of hoist (chain/wire rope, manual/electric/pneumatic), the component to be lubricated, and the environment in which the hoist is operated. It is always best to refer to the hoist manufacturer’s Operation and Maintenance Manual for lubricant specifications.

    I would also point out that even though stainless steel load chain is inherently corrosion resistant, it is still necessary to keep that load chain lubricated to reduce friction in the chain and extend the chain life. Generally speaking for load chain lubrication we recommend Lubriplate Bar & Chain Oil 10-R.

    As for the issue of surface coatings becoming damaged over time, this does happen with virtually any surface coating whether it be galvanized, zinc, copper or other plating. For this reason I recommend the use of solid spark and corrosion resistant components such as solid bronze hooks and stainless steel chains or wire rope, wherever possible. Bronze and stainless components retain their spark and corrosion resistant properties for the life of the component.

    We recognize that there are situations in which plating offers advantages such as lower initial cost, higher strength to size ratio (improved headroom, maintaining capacity rating). In these cases, it is prudent to ask the hoist manufacturer for details regarding the type and thickness of the plating provided. Thicker more malleable coatings normally provide longer life and increase resistance to nicks and abrasion.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  2. Great review of the challenges out there for hoisting equipment, especially in outdoor environments. It would be great to see some recommendations for the types of lubrication that should be used in the field. Also, because hoists have so many moving parts, are there any best practices to help maintain the coating surface as they are often scratched or damaged over time?

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