SPREADER BAR and LIFTING BEAM
Updated: Apr 26
Spreader beams and lifting beams are both two different types of below-the-hook lifting devices used to stabilize and support a load during an overhead lift. Both types of devices are used to keep the lifting slings below the device at or near a 90° angle (perpendicular to the horizon). This helps to avoid damage to the load, damage to rigging hardware and lifting slings, and helps keep the slings from sliding off of the load during the lift. There is a lot of confusion about the differences between the two in terms of how they’re designed and what they’re used for.
The main difference between the two types of lifting devices is the types of forces that are applied to the beam.
Lifting beams have a single centered lifting point on the top side of the beam to connect to a crane, hoist or other lifting mechanism. There are typically two or more evenly-spaced lifting lugs on the underside of the beam that attach to and support the load via hook or sling. They can also be fabricated with adjustable bottom lifting points, at fixed or variable increments. The addition of adjustable lifting points means the beam can lift a wider range of sized loads. In some cases, lifting beams may have two bails, so that they can be attached to two crane hooks. This is especially useful when a single crane can't carry the load. The heavy duty and rigid design of a lifting beam makes them ideal to lift and support flexible loads.
Typical lifting beam drawing is given below;
Spreader bars are a long beam that hold the legs of the lifting slings apart. They have two attachment points at both ends of the top side of the bar. These lugs attach to a lifting sling which can be made from chain, wire rope, round or web slings to evenly spread the weight of the load and connect to a crane, hoist, or other lifting machine. The underside of a spreader bar usually has two or more attachment points from which the load is lifted.
Typical spreader bar drawing is given below;
Spreader bar v/s lifting beam
Merits of Spreader Bar
Spreader bar convert lifting loads into compressive forces into the bar and tensile forces in the lifting slings. The load is evenly distributed across the top two lifting points which reduces stress on a single lifting point. They are ideal for lifting wide or long loads and helps to control load tipping, sliding or bending. They also control the sling angles reducing the chance of damaging the load.Spreader beams are highly efficient in their material use, unlike lifting beams.
Demerits of Spreader Bar
Spreader bar require a lot of headroom to accommodate the lifting slings above the beam. The long or uneven loads may require a tag line to control the load and reduce spinning. It is not ideal if the load needs to be supported by multiple lifting points underneath the beam.
Merits of Lifting Beam
Lifting beams are ideal for lighter and shorter span lifts that don’t require a lot of headroom. Because there is a single bail attachment on the top for the crane to attach to, it doesn’t require the same amount of headroom that a spreader beam does Lifting beams also provide multiple lifting points underneath and can be designed with variable or fixed lifting lugs.
Demerits of Lifting Beam
Lifting beams are more rigid, use more material, and are heavier than an equivalent spreader beam to counteract the bending forces being applied to the beam. Therefore, they don’t use material as efficiently as a spreader beam and tend to be more expensive.
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