A material hoist is a device used to lift heavy objects, materials, or even people. This device can vary in form and function, and while some larger material hoist machines may be mounted to the outside of a large building or structure, others are simply mounted to the ceiling of a warehouse or other large space and are used primarily for moving small and medium sized loads across a smaller space. Large units will function much like an elevator, while smaller units tend to function like a pulley system with a bucket attached.
Sometimes known as construction hoists, a material hoist that is mounted to the side of a large building travels along scaffolding tracks that are secured directly to the building structure. The cart or bucket travels along the outside of this scaffolding and is usually propelled by a rack and pinion system. The scaffolding track itself is built in sections that can be stacked on top of each other, allowing the bucket to run as high as the tracks are mounted. Construction materials can be loaded into the bucket, as can personnel, to reach higher levels of the building quickly and efficiently.
A mine hoist functions very similarly to the construction hoist, but instead of running upward alongside a building or structure, the mine material hoist runs downward into a mineshaft. This device is primarily used to haul people and materials to and from the depths of a mine, and it looks and functions much like a crude elevator. The exact design and function of this type of hoist can vary, as these lifts have been in use for centuries. Early models were steam-powered, or even water- or animal-powered.
Another commonly used type of material hoist is the chain hoist. This device is usually used in factories and warehouses for moving heavy objects across the length of the space. The hoist mechanism is mounted to a track that runs the length of the space, and it can move across the track mechanically. It may be controlled electronically, and the user can very often walk with the load being transported to monitor the progress. A chain is lowered from the material hoist, and a hook or other method of securing materials is attached to the end of the chain. Once the load is secured, the mechanism can pull the chain upward, thereby lifting the load for safe movement.