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Safety Tips for Utilizing Air Balancer, Rail and Jib Crane Systems

How to use this equipment to safely manipulate large, heavy, unbalanced loads

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If you utilize an air balancer in your operation, how can you know you’re safely handling loads? Balancers inherently create a safer, more ergonomic operation by removing manual lifting and positioning (even of heavy items) and replacing it with a near-float system, where heavy loads are lifted and positioned by the balancer – not by people.

Here are some tips from Ingersoll Rand to make your operation even safer…

Air  Balancers are typically rated for capacity at 100 psi at the device. To continue to achieve that capacity, you must maintain this pressure to be able to pick up 100% of your load. If you’re only receiving 90 PSI at the device (as opposed to at the compressor), then the balancer is capable of only 90% of its capacity. At 80 psi, 80% capacity and so on.

Specifying an air balancer for your load

When you specify a balancer, for lifting applications, you want the maximum load to be 80% of the rated capacity of the device at 100 psi.  If you are balancing with the device, then you want the maximum load to be 60% of the rated device capacity again at 100 psi.  So if you are lifting with the device, and your maximum load is 200 pounds, then the device needs to be rated for at least 250 pounds.  If you are balancing with this device then your maximum load would be 150 pounds, again all rated at 100 psi.

The standard balancer wire rope is rated at 1,400 pounds, with a cycle rating of 250,000 cycles.  To maintain safety, you should inspect the wire rope daily (use a glove) for any imperfections, and replace the entire rope if any are found.

Z-BrakeAir balancers use very little air at only 1/8 cfm per cycle and the Z-brake, a safety device which prevents excessive upward acceleration, is standard on all devices except the 50-pound tool balancer.

All hanging points, such as at the hangers, should have safety cables in place as a safety measure on rail systems.

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Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.

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