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Which is the best load moving system for you?

If you operate a manufacturing facility, warehouse or plant, you need a safe, cost-effective and flexible way of moving heavy parts and machinery from one place to another within your facility. One option is transfer carts. Another option is overhead cranes. Read on to discover which material handling system is best for you.

Overhead Cranes
Overhead cranes come in a variety of models and styles and move loads of almost any weight. Lightweight cranes move relatively light loads that you might not want to move by hand, or that you need to pick up and set on a table. Giant gantry cranes move enormous and ungainly loads. Overhead cranes typically lift and move loads of up to 400 tons.
Transfer Carts
Transfer carts are self-propelled modular transporters that move heavy loads at ground level. They run on wheels, are usually battery powered, steerable and operated by radio remote control. They frequently lift and move loads of up to 100 tons.

Overhead Cranes Transfer Carts
Lifting capacity 400 tons 100 tons
Travel path Static, defined and inflexible Unlimited maneuverability because units can typically be steered in 360°
Turning radius footprint Long reach radius Most transfer carts rotate 360° within their own
Rotate in place Many overhead cranes can rotate a load in place Many transfer carts can rotate a load in place
Reach Can reach anywhere within its envelope Can reach anywhere the load can fit
Vertical path Raise and lower loads easily Typically elevate loads off the ground by only a few inches
Loading Lift loads of all shapes and configurations, but they must be attached with a hoist or chain to a structurally sound part of the load If the load can sit on a flat bed, a transfer cart can move it. A loading system or skid to get the load onto the cart may be required.
Floor space Ideal in crowded facilities with narrow isles or little floor space Requires floor space to operate
Cost of installation High Low
Cost of operation High Low
Cost of training High Low
Cost of maintenance High Low
Installation time Weeks or months Minutes
Flexibility of use Low High; no first-in, first-out concerns
Transferability Low High; easily, quickly and cost-effectively relocated to different locations
Training Level of training is high. Operators must be trained and certified. Operation is typically involved and moderately challenging. Level of training is low. Operation is simple.
Safety risks Very high.
Shackles alone – which are big enough to handle huge loads – can break fingers. Loaders usually can’t hook up loads without touching the shackles.
Cranes lift loads up high, creating the potential for falls that hurt people or damage equipment. An average of 41 crane-related fatalities occur annually in the U.S.
Low

The bottom line

Overhead cranes may be an effective choice when you must move loads of up to 400 tons, when floor space is limited, when limits to maneuverability aren’t a concern, and when you have the budget for the high costs of installation, operation, training and maintenance.

Transfer carts are the perfect choice when you must move loads of up to 100 tons cost-effectively, safely and flexibly, when you need to get up and running quickly, and when flexibility and safety are primary concerns.

Learn more about our line of heavy-duty transfer carts

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