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A monorail hoist is a lifting device that serves as an alternative to traditional cranes or conveyors. Manufacturers often use these hoists to move materials or products within a limited area, rather than throughout an entire building. They may be built into the structure of a building, where they become part of the ceiling or columns, or added later using separate supports. A monorail hoist makes it easier to lift products up onto shelves for storage, or to transport them from one part of a room to another for further assembly and production.
While the exact design of the monorail hoist may vary by application, each unit shares some basic features in common. A steel beam runs parallel to the floor, and supports a metal trolley or cart. This trolley may run above or below the beam depending on ceiling height and required lifting capacity. A steel cable or chain supports a hoist attached to the trolley. As this trolley runs along the length of the beam, it carries the hoist and an attached load to the desired location.
Some monorail hoists simply run in a straight line from one end of a room to another. Others feature a complex design that includes curves, changes in elevation, and transfers from one hoist to another. These complex monorail hoist designs typically serve as an alternate to traditional conveyor belts, and act as a type of assembly line for large or oversized products. As the monorail hoist transfers the product along the line, workers can complete various steps within the production process.
A monorail hoist may feature several types of operating mechanisms. Many are electric, and rely on an electric motor. Hoists used for very heavy loads often require a pneumatic or hydraulic operating system. Some very basic models may even rely on manual operation, where workers attach an object to the hoist then slide the trolley from one end of the monorail to the other by hand.
One of the primary advantages to the monorail hoist is its flexibility. Buyers can customize these units to meet the needs of any type of product line. They are also well suited to small spaces, where a forklift or crane would be too unwieldy or impractical. Unlike a conveyor belt or other assembly line system, a monorail hoist also leaves the floor area free of obstructions.
The biggest drawback to this type of system is that it requires frequent stopping and starting. Instead of a continuous production process, workers are forced to produce one unit at a time before re-positioning the hoist. This can slow production and cut down on efficiency.