Your Complete Guide to Rigging Services

If you need to move heavy, delicate or hard-to-reach equipment, you don’t want to hire a traditional moving company — you need a rigger. In this article, we’ll cover the duty of a rigger, the equipment they use and the basic rigging safety practices they follow.

What Is Industrial Rigging?

When you buy a house, you will often use a moving company to move your belongings. Similarly, when a company moves to a new location or buys new machinery, it must hire riggers, a term for professionals who specialize in moving heavy industrial equipment. Local rigging services can be as simple as moving machines to a different location within a facility or as extensive as hauling them to another state.

Typical moving companies can’t handle industrial machinery for several reasons.

  • Weight: Manufacturing and heavy machinery can weigh 20 tons or more, meaning that the forklift and pallet jacks traditional moving companies use won’t do the job.
  • Sensitivity: These equipment pieces can also be sensitive and feature calibrated meters or gauges that must provide specific readings. Most moving companies do not have the equipment or training to handle such delicate machinery.
  • Location: Many industrial machines often sit in tight spots, making it challenging or impossible for typical moving companies to transport them.

Using specialized equipment, machinery riggers can haul a wide variety of equipment, including generators, HVAC units, semiconductor equipment, printing presses, safes, conveyors and mills. However, just because a company specializes in rigging does not necessarily mean it can move your equipment. For a rigging contractor to be effective, they must thoroughly understand your equipment, your project’s scope and the required safety practices and permits.

What Are the Types of Rigging?

Industrial rigging companies move everything from hydroelectric dam generators to MRI machines. While every project is different and presents unique circumstances, some everyday situations where riggers play a vital role include:

  • Plant reorganization
  • Plant relocation
  • Machinery upgrades
  • Dismantling and removing decommissioned machinery
  • Crane rigging
  • Assembling and installing new equipment

They also work for a wide range of industries, many of which have equipment that requires special handling. What are rigging services? Some examples include the following.

  • Heavy construction equipment: Machines used in construction are notoriously heavy. We have the equipment and experience to transport all of them, including backhoe loaders, dozers and excavators — no matter what the size.
  • Industrial and manufacturing: At Equip Trucking & Warehousing, LLC, our rigging team can smoothly transport your containers from point A to point B and repackage and crate the products in them. With more than 20 forklifts, our team can also expedite the process of loading and unloading your containers.
  • Mining: In our over 30 years of business, we’ve frequently provided our rigging services to mining companies. Our fleet of trailers and trucks can haul machinery for any mining company within a three-hour drive of our Philadelphia facility.
  • Metalworking: We also provide trucking and assembly services to metalworking companies. One recent project involved assembling a 70-foot-high, multimillion-dollar platform for a major airline. In our warehouse, we also have a bridge crane weighing 100 tons, which greatly facilitates the unloading of metalworking machinery containers.
  • Power generation: We have ample experience with delivering power generation equipment throughout the Tri-State region. Whether you need equipment delivered to your client’s location or your dealership, our team has what it takes to move your equipment with care. We can take care of any loading or unloading services you require, like pallets for commercial or residential generators.
  • Medical and pharmaceutical: We understand the importance of temperature control for the pharmaceutical industry. For this reason, our facility has climate control capabilities to ensure your products stay at the right temperature until they arrive at their destination. We also have a video surveillance system and a security guard to monitor your materials and ensure their safety.

What Are Examples of Rigging Equipment?

To keep the lift and worksite safe during a rigging project, it’s vital to have the correct equipment and understand each machine’s function and purpose.

The most useful essential piece of equipment a rigging project is a crane. However, when choosing the right crane for the job, you need to consider the three following things.

  • Lift capacity: Ensure the crane you pick has the lift capacity for the job.
  • Maximum lifting height: Can the crane you’re considering go high enough to clear all obstacles?
  • Horizontal reach: Is the crane’s reach long enough to get the load from where it is to where it needs to be?

You can find all the above information on the crane’s load chart. Once you’ve found the best crane for the job, the next step is to determine the rigging equipment you need for the project. A wide variety of rigging parts exist. Some of them are essentials, whereas others are only for specific lift types. Below, we’ll explore the components most commonly used for rigging projects.

Hooks

The primary connection between the load you’re lifting and the crane is the rigging hooks, which riggers choose based on their weight load capacity. They generally consist of forged alloy steel and various types exist, including automatic, eye, swivel, chain, clevis and shan hooks. They’re also available in many sizes based on the hook’s throat, or opening. Experienced machinery riggers can determine the type and size most appropriate for the job.

Shackles

When rigging a crane, shackles serve as the main connecting links and allow quick connection and disconnection of various rigging parts. Shackles are one of the most prevalent fittings for rigging, and are typically the solution when a load weighs over 6,000 pounds. Due to their removable pin, they can connect to ropes, slings, cables and the like.

Various kinds are available, but all shackles feature a U-shaped design with an opening secured by a clevis pin or bolt. The most commonly used shackle types in rigging include the following.

  • Anchor: Also known as a “bow” shackle, an anchor shackle features a bow with a large, round “O” shape. This larger bow shape enables this shackle to be side-loaded. You can also use it in multiple sling-leg connections.
  • Chain: Chain shackles, or “D” shackles, feature a narrower, D-shaped bow. This kind of shackle is for in-line tension and shouldn’t be side-loaded, which can cause bending or twisting of the shackle’s bow. When you use a chain shackle, the load’s centerline and the shackle’s centerline must coincide.
  • Long-reach: A long-reach shackle is ideal for situations that require a longer reach to connect to pick points. You can also use them as a bail to lift thicker products.

Wire Ropes and Nylon Slings

You use wire ropes and nylon slings to connect a large load or span its perimeter. In rigging, wire ropes consist of many strands of carbon or stainless steel rope twisted around a core rope. A wire rope sling comes in various lifting capacities, which provides users with a flexible, strong lifting solution.

Spreader Bars

This modular lifting solution enables various configurations, depending on the lifting operation’s lifting requirements. You use a spreader bar below a hook when you rig a heavy or large load, which distributes the load over multiple points. This setup increases stability and decreases the loads applied during hoisting. You can use spreader bars with both wire rope slings and synthetic lifting slings.

Specialty Equipment

Some projects require rare equipment, such as tri-block rigging systems or modular lift towers. These come in handy in tight spaces with only enough room for a single crane to “self-tail” equipment. Tri-block rigging for loads weighing up to 200 tons makes using a work platform or second crane unnecessary and provides a safer option for cantilevered operations and transferring equipment between lifting apparatus.

Workspaces with limited space can also benefit from modular lift towers. However, they are particularly advantageous for sites with less-than-ideal ground conditions or remote locations. While moving large cranes to sites like these can be very challenging, dangerous and costly, it’s possible to move modular lift towers in sections and assemble them on site. They’re often useful in congested factories, refineries and power plants.

Rig Safety Solutions and Considerations

Operating rigging machinery requires intense focus and preparation to ensure everyone is safe and avoid equipment and property damage. To secure a rigging operation, familiarize yourself with this lifting rigging safety checklist.

  • Work only with qualified people: All workers on a site should be familiar with rigging safety practices. They should understand the equipment and have the training to comply with rigging procedures. Professionals should foresee issues before they occur and know how to immediately stop machines if working conditions become dangerous.
  • Perform a thorough examination: Before beginning a lifting project, have a rigging professional inspect the handling equipment and the crane to ensure its safety. Address every technical issue — no matter how minor. Only use machinery that’s in top condition. You should also consider weather conditions, as inclement weather can make lifting more dangerous.
  • Note any technical problems: If you notice that a machine has technical issues that could lead to a malfunction, do not use it for your rigging project — take it out of commission and store it for repairs. This policy is especially crucial if more than one employee on the job site will operate a crane.
  • Ensure a balanced load: Perhaps the most universal rigging safety tip is that the load hook and upper suspension should form a straight line. Ensure that chain and the hoist body never touch the load. Also, be aware of how far a load can swing. If a load becomes unbalanced, this may cause the crane to tip over. Always be mindful of the load capacity and its center of gravity.
  • Ensure the load cannot cause injury: For rigging equipment safety,don’t allow employees to stand or walk underneath a suspended load. The operator is responsible for keeping loads separate from other workers. Those close to the lifting should make sure their hands, fingers and feet stay away from pinch points. It’s also critical to avoid touching power lines, which can cause electric shock.
  • Land all loads: Loads should never stay suspended when the machine is off. Whenever it’s not possible to supervise the hoist, lower the attached loads to the ground. Be aware of any stacked material near the load, so you won’t knock it over. The landing area should also be clear before the operator slowly lowers the load.
  • Use only strong slings: A sling must be strong, durable and able to lift heavy objects. It’s a good idea to measure each sling leg’s tension, which must match the slings’ vertical capacity.
  • Designate a spotter: As a rigger, if you don’t have a full view, you must designate a spotter who will be in charge of directing the loads and ensuring proper clearance. Always be aware of where workers are versus the load.
  • Be thoroughly familiar with your equipment: A rigger should know their machine’s weight capacity, which they can find in the load charts located in the manufacturer’s operator’s manual. The rigger should be familiar with the load radius and boom length as well. When balancing a load, the maximum angle capabilities and the number of legs on the machinery are essential.
  • Safely store hook or hoist: At a project’s conclusion,store the rigging equipment somewhere where weather and other factors cannot damage it. It must also be somewhere that won’t be potentially hazardous for people.

Leave Your Move to the Professionals at Equip Trucking

If you need rigging solutions in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, leaving it in the hands of Equip Trucking & Warehousing will ensure a smooth move for your business. We’ve been solving industrial machine moving and rigging issues for customers for over 30 years, and have the crew and skills needed to provide turnkey project support and management. To learn more about our rigging services, don’t hesitate to contact us by calling 610-521-8527 or filling out our contact form.

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