Lifting equipment has been in use for many years, and it is difficult to see how much of our construction, energy and transport industries could operate without it. The ability to lift and move heavy objects is absolutely vital for all these industries, and many others. Even theatres rely on lifting equipment to put stage sets and lighting in place. While it can be seen as something that goes with modern, high tech industry, lifting equipment’s history is actually much longer than that.
The first cranes are thought to have been developed by ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman builders. All of these cultures developed strong skills in construction – as evidenced by the buildings they created that still exist today. These early cranes would have used animal or man power to lift weight. Larger cranes would have a human-powered treadmill.
Fast-forward to the Medieval era, and technology in lifting equipment had not progressed, although cranes, hoists and other equipment were in limited use in warehouses and mills. As the industrial revolution progressed, technology improved. Whereas equipment had always been made largely of wood, stronger materials such as steel began to be used. There was also a move away from human powered devices, to those which harnessed new-found technologies and fuels. Steam powered cranes for example, were introduced, especially for work on railways. Progress was slow though: cranes powered by treadmill and hand winches continued to be used throughout the nineteenth century and beyond.
Today, technology has developed to cover an incredibly wide range of uses, and it takes many different forms. There is a piece of lifting equipment for pretty much any job, and a wide range of different kinds of equipment to meet varying needs. Among the most common pieces of lifting equipment available are: Cranes. A wide array of cranes are available today, from the huge tower cranes seen on building sites, to small fixed cranes that are used in warehouses and factories. They have come a long way since the days of the Romans.
Forklift trucks. These are a vital piece of kit for any business which needs to move small quantities of stock around quickly and efficiently. Their job would have been done by donkeys and carts 200 years ago.
Winches and hoists. Both mechanisms for lifting an attached load by attaching it to a winding cable around a spoke. They first became widely used during the nineteenth century, especially in harbours.