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Servo Hoists, Air Balancers, and More. Which is Right for You?

Chuck Snook
Workstation Lifting Solutions Sales Manager, Region Americas

What are the right workstation lifting systems for your applications? This depends on variables such as the weight of what you’re lifting, the frequency of lifts and the work space.

To help customers identify the best workstation lifting systems for optimal productivity and safety of workers, Konecranes interviews operators, gathers information and conducts on-site ergonomic assessments. With this information, we can provide the best combination of options for your operations that can include simple chain hoists, air balancers, servo hoists and more.

A chain hoist may be the answer for applications that require relatively infrequent lifts of heavier objects that are less vulnerable to damage. Chain hoists are good for loads of 1-5 tons.  In contrast, air balancers and servo hoists may be the answer for applications that involve repetitive, precise lifting of lighter objects that require more careful handling. 

Air balancers, powered by compressed air rather than motors, facilitate natural lifting motions. They operate intuitively as an extension of the operator’s arm. They also reduce the risk of cumulative trauma and biomechanical injuries to the back, shoulders and arms. Typically, air balancers are limited to capacities of 1,000 pounds or less.

Konecranes’ ATB AirBalancer lifts up to 775 pounds with an effective lifting capacity of 571 pounds at 100 PSI, which covers the majority of ergonomic, repetitive lifts.

Servo hoists also facilitate precise material handling while preventing injury in repetitive operations. Servo hoists controlled by industrial processors provide more lifting power than air balancers, with a maximum capacity of 1,350 pounds. Some lift as much as 2,000 pounds.

Because they mimic natural human motion, air balancers and servo hoists operate significantly faster than chain hoists, up to 200 feet per minute, compared to the 16-64 feet per minute capacity of a chain hoist. While chain hoists also offer one- or two-speed control and in some cases a variable frequency drive, all air balancers and servo hoists are equipped with completely variable speed control.

Another factor to keep in mind is predictable operation. Air balancers typically offer less predictable operation than servo hoists because most air balancer speeds vary according to the weight of a load. However, the Konecranes ATB AirBalancer eliminates this issue with built-in load weight compensation, which enables consistent lifting speeds regardless of load weight. Plus, the ATB AirBalancer costs significantly less than servo-controlled hoists.

Other workstation lifting solutions include the low-rolling-resistance Konecranes aluminum XA workstation crane, ceiling-supported, freestanding or articulated jib cranes, and the Konecranes ATL Vertical Lifter, which facilitates safe lifting of unbalanced loads.

For more information, visit the workstation lifting systems section of the Konecranes website, or contact a Konecranes representative.

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