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Dec 30, 2019 - Lifting in Canadas Harsh Northern Winters.

Canada is cold, and if you are in the heavy-lifting industry then this is something you need to be aware of when using your equipment. In fact, using your lifting equipment properly in cold conditions is essential to the proper function and longevity of your equipment.

Even more crucially, thinking about crane and operator safety in cold conditions is important for the safety of your employees.

Everybody is familiar with the sinking of the Titanic, but do they know why it sunk? I’m not just talking about it’s collision with an iceberg. It’s because the composition of the steel for the hull wasn’t equipped for the freezing temperatures. The steel became progressively more and more brittle when it was exposed to the cold water. When it finally hit the iceberg, the steel fractured much easier than it would have in warmer temperatures. 

When selecting cranes or hoist equipment for use in outdoor environments, it’s important to choose high-quality, reliable solutions that will be able to withstand extreme temperatures and various weather conditions. When machinery can stand up to even the harshest outdoor conditions, operators can rest assured that it will perform reliably throughout the entire project.  

If you didn’t already know, cold temperatures can have a serious impact on steel, in turn affecting the working capacity of material handling cranes & hoists. When exposed to extreme cold, the structure of steel can shift significantly, going from ductile to brittle as conditions become colder and reach the ductile-to-brittle-transition temperature (DBTT). This shift in the steels structure can have a catastrophic, unpredictable impact on cranes and hoist equipment, greatly affecting their performance, and increasing the risk of accident or injury. While functionality failure caused by cold weather can occur randomly, it can also be a side effect of other sub-zero weather stressors, such as cracking.

When weighing different hoist options, consider choosing equipment that meets the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME’s) temperature standards for proper hoist operation. These standards provide a temperature range for optimal equipment operation and can be hugely useful in guiding industry professionals toward the best solutions for their specific jobs. Below are three relevant ASME standards for outdoor crane applications.

  • ASME HST-2-1999 Performance Standard for Manually Operated Chain Hoists — Hoists and trolleys covered by this standard are intended for industrial use in ambient temperatures from -18 °C to 54 °C.
  • ASME HST-1-1999 Performance Standard for Electric Chain Hoists — Hoist equipment is designed to operate in ambient temperatures between   -18 °C and 40 °C.
  • ASME B30.20 Below the Hook Lifting Devices — Additional considerations need to be considered if the working temperature is outside the range of     -5 °C to 65 °C.

While engineers have found a way for steel to be safer in low temperatures, it’s still incredibly important that those operating cranes and heavy-lifting equipment in freezing conditions should take safety precautions.

It is common for most engineers to specify a minimum operating temperature of -20°C, as it is easy and cost-effective. However, it is more than likely that many pieces of equipment will be used at lower temperatures than that.

Since temperature can have such serious effects on material handling equipment and its ability to perform properly, it’s essential to select machinery that can not only withstand extreme temperatures but also adhere to the strictest industry standards. In fact, in cold-temperature applications, ASME recommends either derating your crane’s capacity or using steel that is better-suited for operation at lower temperatures.

However, many companies are using equipment that has a -20°C rating at -30°C or colder. This means they are completely liable for doing so and cannot predict the mode of failure.

It’s important that you are aware of what temperature you can operate your equipment at.

By being aware of the dangers of operating the equipment in cold temperatures, you can ensure that your employees are safe from potential accidents and that your business hits project deadlines.

Made from heat-treated alloy steel for higher uniform strength, KITO® CB Series Hoists prove they’re unmatched pulling power in the most extreme conditions. Exceptional, heavy-grade components make this a long-lasting workhorse that tackles severe -40˚ C temperatures and our truly hostile Northern winters.

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