Rowe Transfer moving a large piece of machinery utilizing a rigging sling .

Choosing the Best Lifting Sling for the Job

When moving heavy equipment with a crane or another type of lifting device, lifting slings are used to move the object safely and efficiently. A lifting sling connects the lifting device to the object and helps balance the object while it is being lifted. Lifting slings can be made from many different materials, and which type you should use is dependent on the rigging project.

Wire Rope Sling

A wire rope sling is one of the most common lifting slings used in rigging. Wire rope slings are made up of steel wires twisted together around a steel or fiber center. This gives the sling great flexibility while also maintaining a high level of strength. Another advantage of wire rope slings is they are more resistant to kinks, and they easily revert back to their original shape after being used in a rigging job. They are more abrasion and fatigue resistant than some of the other types of lifting slings. Some variations of wire rope slings are corrosion resistant. Wire rope slings are also inexpensive and lightweight when compared to alloy chain slings. They can be used with all three types of lift hitches: basket, vertical, and choker.

There are some disadvantages to wire rope slings as well. The strength-to-weight ratio is low, meaning it is not the strongest type of lifting sling and should not be used for the heaviest rigging projects. Wire rope slings can be susceptible to corrosion both externally and internally. If the wire rope is misused, it can be crushed or kinked. Because of the nature of the wire rope, it cannot be used in extremely high nor extremely low temperatures. Once damaged, wire rope slings cannot be repaired; they must be taken out of service, properly disposed of, and replaced by a new sling.

Alloy Chain Sling

Alloy chain slings are known for being durable and tough. As the name suggests, this type of sling is made up of chain links, meaning it is flexible and can handle lifting heavy, bulky equipment. This type of sling can survive impact, chemical exposure, UV ray exposure, and extreme temperatures. It is also resistant to corrosion. For these reasons, alloy chain slings are the best lifting sling to use in harsh conditions. This type of sling is the least likely to be damaged, but if it is somehow damaged, it is also the easiest to repair. Individual damaged links can be replaced instead of having to replace the entire chain.

The biggest disadvantage of alloy chain slings is they are heavy. As the strength of the chain increases, so does its weight. The heavier the load, the heavier the chain will need to be. Alloy chain slings should not be used for rigging projects that require lightweight lifting slings. This type of sling should also not be used to lift delicate or sensitive equipment, as the heavy chains can damage nondurable objects when lifting them.

Synthetic Slings

Synthetic lifting slings are typically made from either nylon or polyester, making them very flexible and lightweight. Synthetic slings are inexpensive and easy to attach to the rest of the rigging equipment. Their flexibility makes them ideal for moving heavy equipment with irregular shapes. Because the synthetic materials are soft, this type of lifting sling can be used to lift sensitive loads without causing damage. Synthetic slings can be used in all three types of lifting hitches as well because the soft material can mold to fit almost any rigging situation. The synthetic material is non-conductive and will not spark, so it can be used in explosive situations where metal materials would be unsafe.

However, synthetic slings cannot withstand high temperatures and therefore should not be used in such situations. This type of lifting sling is also able to be abraded and torn, making it more susceptible to damage than some of the other types of lifting slings. Some synthetic materials are prone to damage from chemical and UV ray exposure as well.

Synthetic Rope Slings

Synthetic rope slings have a similar appearance to the traditional hemp rope but are made from high performance synthetic fibers. These fibers make the synthetic rope sling strong, lightweight, and flexible. This type of lifting sling weighs 1/8 the amount of a wire rope sling of the same diameter, making it ideal for rigging projects where lightweight slings are necessary. Synthetic rope slings are resistant to kinks, fatigue, and damage from being crushed. Depending on the synthetic material, some of these slings can even hold up when exposed to chemicals and harsh environments.

These lifting slings are not invincible, though. They can be abraded, frayed, and cut when moving heavy equipment that has sharp edges. Some synthetic rope slings can be damaged from chemicals and UV rays as well, depending on the materials that make them up.

Metal Mesh Slings

The metal mesh lifting sling is a high-tensile mesh that can be from alloy, carbon, or stainless steel. It is very strong and durable. This is the best type of lifting sling to use in extreme heat or when the load is abrasive. It is difficult to damage metal mesh slings because their very nature makes them impervious to cutting, tearing, and abrasion. These lifting slings are also corrosion-resistant. The flexibility of the mesh material allows this sling to conform to irregularly-shaped loads. It can easily be used with all three types of lifting hitches as well.

The main drawback to the metal mesh sling is that if one part of the mesh is broken, then the entire sling needs to be replaced—it cannot be repaired. These slings can also be damaged if crushed by a heavy weight.

Rigging Experts in East Tennessee

Do you have heavy equipment that you need to move? Rowe Transport has a team of rigging experts who can successfully complete even the most difficult of rigging projects. We have all the technology and equipment necessary to complete your project safely and efficiently, and we will come up with a solution unique to your specific project. Reach out to us today at 865-523-0421 or online so we can help you move your heavy equipment.