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What Is a Hoist Trolley?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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A hoist trolley is a device used to allow a hoist to be moved throughout a building or outdoor area on a series of tracks suspended from a ceiling or poles. The hoist trolley is a steel shell containing rollers that slide over the end of an I-beam. The trolley has a hook or clevis located at the bottom of the steel shell to allow a hoist to be connected to the trolley. Both automated drive and manual versions of the hoist trolley are available and in use around the world on a daily basis. Whether used to move material within a building, transfer products from one stage of assembly to the next on a production line, or move finished products to a warehouse or loading dock, the trolley system aids workers by lifting and carrying heavy loads.

The device is a tool found in home garages and automobile manufacturing plants alike. The use of the hoist trolley allows a worker to lift an object with the hoist and then, using a series of welded rail, travel great distances and place the object back on the floor, an assembly line or a truck. The common trolley is a two-piece design that is held in place around a steel beam and bolted together, creating a easy-to-move device that is capable of riding the rail or beam much like a roller coaster car or inverted railroad car.

With a manual hoist trolley, the operator simply pulls the hoist hook to the desired object to be moved and the trolley will follow on the rail above. Once the object is hooked with the hoist hook and lifted, the operator commonly pushes against or pulls the object to guide its movement along the rail. On systems using cut outs and turns, the operator selects the path the trolley will go and assists in its movement. Once in the desired area, the object is lowered by the hoist operator and unhooked. The hoist trolley is commonly returned to a central staging area to await use by another worker.

An automatic hoist trolley is commonly controlled with the same control switch panel that operates the hoist. An operator simply pushes a forward or reverse button on the control panel and the hoist trolley moves in the chosen direction. Often, the power or automatic trolley will have warning lights and a horn or buzzer that can be activated by pushing a switch on the control panel. This is used to warn workers when a hoist may be passing near their work stations. The automatic trolley uses an electric motor to power the drive wheels and the hoist.

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