Beam Clamps - how to choose them?

Friday, 29 October 2021

Beam clamps are used for lifting and pulling heavy items and they provide a versatile connection to common structural steel sections. As common as they are in industrial settings, there are still important decisions to be made when selecting a suitable version. This article explains the basics of what beam clamps are, how to use them and how to choose the best beam clamp for your needs.

Nobles offers a great variety ensuring our customers gain access to a range of choices when it comes to design and functionality.

 

 

What are beam clamps?

Beam clamps (also known as girder clamps) provide a re-positionable connection to the lower flange if beams. They typically incorporate a scissor action mechanism from steel plate which is adjusted and pre-tensioned with a hand operated lead screw. These are furnished with a lifting eye, or spool pin at the centre which then may be connected to such things as a sling or hoist.

Beam clamps are commonly used where providing a dedicated lifting point, or crane is less practical. They may also be used where sharp girder edges or access around a beam rules out a choked sling alternative.

 

How to use beam clamps?

Beam clamps are used by first selecting an appropriate and approved connection point. This will typically be a hot rolled section such as a Universal Beam, but potentially could include a variety of  other steel sections provided that there is a lower flange that is compatible with the selected clamp.

Operation is generally very simple, the lead screw is unwound to accept the girder, then re-wound so that it is firmly secure and loading correctly upon its proper load bearing parts.

Proper use extends far beyond this of course, and there are important safety principles to adhere to.

First of these is to understand that the beam itself is a vital component of any clamp application. The beam must be in a condition that is safe to use and a competent person must ensure that the beam:

  • Is a compatible profile which will correctly engage the clamp.
  • Has sufficient local strength to ensure the flange does not give way.
  • Has sufficient bulk strength between its supports.
  • Has a sufficient supporting structure, including any connection points to the beam.
  • Is not creating a risk whereby the clamp may slip sideways off the end of the beam section.

 

Then, it must be appreciated that beam clamps are intended for general purpose lifting applications. They are also used in other applications such as for pulling equipment, tensioning loads and for holding items in place. However, as with most lifting tackle, clamps used for purposes other than lifting should not be subsequently used in general lifting applications.

It is essential for users of beam clamps to clear the space before using the clamps and ensure that no one is standing underneath the load when lifted.

A Standard Industrial Girder Clamp for Lifting – Nobles Rigmate Brand

 

Further safety requirements should not be limited to:

  • Do not lift loads in excess of the Working Load Limit (WLL) of the clamp.
  • Ensure that the beam or structure that the clamp is attaching to is of sufficient WLL or strength to handle the intended loading.
  • Always make sure that the I.D. plate is legible and traceable.
  • Do not side pull standard girder clamps out of plane.
  • Inspect the hinge points to ensure they are secure and their proper movement unrestricted.
  • Always check beam clamp for signs of distortion, cracking, and excessive wear or corrosion. and also ensure attached hardware including the hoists are free from faults.
  • Always ensure that the clamp including attached hardware is secure and that safety catches are functioning correctly.
  • Ensure the position of the beam clamp is aligned with the centre of gravity of the payload so that it won’t unintentionally swing or be set at an angle.
  • Always consult the manufacturer’s user guidance.

 

Choosing the correct Beam Clamps

Nobles stocks a range of beam clamps from top quality reputable manufacturers such as the William Hackett WH-UBC Universal Beam Clamp, the William Hackett WH-BC Fixed Jaw Super Clamp and Nobles own value range, the Rig-Mate Girder Clamps.

Specialised types including such things as stainless steel variants and bespoke designs from our Engineering Department are also able to be supplied.

Beam clamps should always be used with safety in mind just like other lifting equipment, to avoid workplace accidents and equipment damage.

The first part of selecting the right beam clamp is to address the essential planning of the lift and to take into account such basics as:

  • Type of clamp - adjustable/non-adjustable - scissor, screw or bolt action.
  • Capacity and beam size or range of beam sizes.
  • Suitability of the beam.
  • Type of lifting appliance to be used.
  • If the application is temporary or permanent.

Nobles RIG-MATE Girder Clamp

For many applications our customers choose Nobles RIG-MATE Girder Clamp for a simple, fast, portable and secure means of attaching a lifting point to a beam.

The Nobles RIG-MATE Girder Clamp meets AS 4991 and offers great value for money for all your lifting, rigging and hoisting needs. The product ranges from a WLL (in lifting) of 1t up to 10t and can be fitted to a range of beam widths between 75mm up to 320mm. 

Importantly, it and its peers are designed for vertical use only. These Rig Mate clamps are designed to be used for vertical lifts, and only in-plane side pulls within 15 degrees of vertical are tolerated. 

William Hackett WH-BC Fixed Jaw Super Clamp

For users who require something more, and who require a clamp that is rated for side pulls perpendicular to a beam, the robustness and excellent quality of the WH-BC Fixed Jaw Super Clamp is hard to beat.

These are suitable for applications that require an in-plane vertical angle of up to 45 degrees. 

Once away from the vertical an adjustment to the Working Load Limit is required. Their design makes connecting the beam clamp to the hoist much simpler, as the shackle at the bottom provides for broad compatibility. Available load ratings range from 2t up to 15t and they can be fitted to beams with widths from 76mm up to 610mm.

'What about non-vertical loading that is in-line with the beam? 

For most beam clamps, several undesirable outcomes arise.

Firstly, the jaws may tend to prise themselves off the beam flange, with potential to damage both.

Secondly, the clamp may slip sideways unexpectedly at a fraction of its rated capacity.

Nobles used a test jig to assess this effect – check out our video to see what happens.

 

Fortunately, there is an answer…

William Hackett WH-UBC Universal Beam Clamps 

The WH-UBC Clamp by William Hackett is the answer to many off-axis applications. Its innovative design grips the web of a girder (as opposed to the flange) and this brings several benefits. It is easier to fit in difficult positions, saves headroom and provides a rated load option for off-axis work solving numerous rigging difficulties.

Being designed for sideload applications the WH-UBC Universal Beam Clamp has been designed for vertical use but also sideload applications which helps avoid the need for a spreader beam or difficult to access mounting location that might otherwise be necessary.

The design is lightweight and can be quickly clamped and unclamped to the beam, making it a safer option for employees.

These clamps meet leading international standards such as BS EN13155: 2003 + A2: 2009. William Hacket clamps are available from Nobles to meet AS4991-2004.

The WH-UBC by William Hackett accommodates a range of beam widths and is available in working load limits ranging from 3.2, 5 and 10 tonnes. 

How can we help?

Nobles stock a great range of high-quality beam clamps and hoisting gear, including our economy Rig-Mate range. Nobles offer a range of clamps to suit a diverse of beam sizes and dimensions in a variety of styles and safe working loads. We are on hand with all the information you need to know, speak to our customer service team by calling 1300 711 559 or email us at sales@nobles.com.au to get professional advice and to discuss your hoist and rigging requirements.

 

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