Surviving the Eyebolt Jungle

Friday, 29 October 2021

No matter whether we’re lifting a 50 tonne piece of machinery, or stringing up vines in our backyard – everyone uses eyebolts.

However, there are certainly some uses where we’re only interested in the size of  the eye, or how they look. The moment we need something load rated we’re presented with a  forrest of quite different components. These can have somewhat similar descriptions but there are crucial and very significant differences in what they are and what they can do. We really don’t want to make wrong selections.

Let us now wander into the world of eyebolt types and know what’s what.

 

Eyebolts in simple terms

First of all, the most obvious common denominator is, that eyebolts are exactly that – an eye shape at one end and a threaded bit at the other that looks like a bolt.

The eye part can come in a variety of shapes but another common feature is the collar. Collars act as a stop to tighten the thread against. They also act as support for the eye to help resist off-axis loading.

But do any of these fundamental features tell us what we can and cannot use these eyebolts for?

Sadly the answer is no.

So how do we tell the difference between eyebolts – and what are the real key distinctions between types?

A Typical Commercial Eyebolt or a Load Rated Straight Pull Eyebolt – A Crucial Difference!

 

Fundamental Types

Here is a list of many of the types of eyebolts we might encounter, it has some omissions which we’ll come to later.

These eyebolts reflect the older methodologies associated with eyebolts.

There is a hierarchy and it ranges from totally unsuitable for lifting to those which are suitable for lifting subject to some specific conditions of use.

 

Type

What are they for?

What do they look like?

Unsuitable for lifting

Commercial eyebolts

These are eyebolts without any load rating at all. Their strength isn’t zero, but there are no standard or engineered controls on consistency of performance. These eyebolts may only be used in applications where the consequence of failure is very minor.

These eyebolts can look like anything. Typical examples are usually small in size. Steel versions come in zinc plated, galvanised and black finishes. Stainless steel versions are common. Eyes could be forged, welded or simply bent into a loop.

So called ‘machinery eyebolts’

These eyebolts can look similar to rated eyebolts but were once notorious for being involved in lifting incidents. Ideally these are quality components engineered by OEM machinery manufacturers where ratings in some form may exist, but must be carefully confirmed with the manufacturer. In many cases these eyebolts are best replaced with proper lifting eyebolts or reserved only for manual handling type tasks.

These eyebolts range from components which are very similar to standard eyebolts through to what’s best described as a caricature. Oversized eye holes and thin cross sections are stereotypical.

Very Limited Application

Uprated eyebolts

These eyebolts derive from selected types of otherwise commercial product and provided with a specially engineered upgrade to their quality, testing and markings.

These types are rarely encountered as this can be an expensive solution. Generally only found where there are no alternative options.

Bespoke Engineered and rated eyebolts

Eyebolts for which a custom engineered and designed product is best. Must be designed by engineers with suitable competencies and knowledge such as provided by Nobles own engineering department.

The sky’s the limit with these, but again they may be a relatively expensive solution. Typical examples tend to be quite large.

Straight Pull Only – Very Limited Use

Uncollared rated eyebolts made to a specific standard

These eyebolts have a genuine load rating, and reference standards are with a scope that includes lifting applications. These eyebolts are for straight pull only and can be difficult to integrate into lifting applications in general. Typically these form part of an engineered solution.

There are many styles. These eyebolts include such things as ASME Straight shank lifting eyes, AS2319 elongated eye rigging screw fittings and forged Bow nuts.

Limited Use – Generally obsolete for lifting

Collared rated eyebolts made to a specific standard

These eyebolts have a collar and are intended for off-axis loading in some form. The scope and application guidance from the reference standard can vary widely however. These can be a good choice for rated eyebolts that are low cost but they can be difficult to safely integrate into general lifting applications.

These eyebolts range from conservatively sized styles with substantial collars such as the BS 4278, those with relatively small shoulders such as the ASME B18.15 and those such as the DIN 580 design.

Some readers may be surprised to see the word obsolete against eyebolts they currently use. Do not be alarmed – please read on…

A Straight Pull Eyebolt With Very Limited Uses

 

Improved Standards Pave a Better Path for General Lifting

There are several newer standards governing eyebolts and by far the most significant of these is GS-OA 15-04 which is published as a regulation by the DGUV (in simple terms, the German equivalent of what we’d call “Workcover” in Australia).

This standard series has been driving the design and testing criteria of many of the eyebolts which we see today described as ‘high tensile’ it also has driven several of the weird and wonderful designs which now include swivels, attached lifting rings and other features which move further away from the traditional eyebolt format.

It is from GS-OA 15-04 that many of the familiar selling points and benefits of European high tensile eyebolts derive. Such things as:

  • Markings for worst case configurations of the load rating.
  • Swivel articulation

Additionally, what this standard does is draw upon chain fitting standards as a quality control measure. This is why you will also read that they are subject to fatigue testing. It is also why you will see references to standards such as EN1677 (a chain fitting standard that is similar to AS3776) on conformance statements.

What these DGUV eyebolts achieve is a degree of foolproofing of eyebolts in a general lifting tackle scenario.

GS-OA 15-04 Eyebolts Can Take Many Forms

Other Improved Standards

Naturally, there is never one clear leader in any field – and there are other standards regimes which have sought to achieve similar results. One notable example is the swivel hoist ring subcategory of ASME B30.26. Within this category we encounter such things as ratings at both a 4:1 and 5:1 breaking load factor, some components which are individually proof tested and other nuances. Being a broader standards regime overall however, there is less emphasis on a regulator’s approval (as in Germany) and more responsibilities fall upon the manufacturer.

It is always worth comparing test and conformity specs as the best products are from reputable and global manufacturers, who logically apply test and product homologation regimes which satisfy more than one standard.

 

Best Practice Traditional Eyebolts 

Special mention must be made of the latest AS2317.1 standard. This standard has given options to users who must continue to use low tensile single piece eyebolts and eyenuts. This standard sets out rich content for users and introduces its own version of worst case loading markings to make them more interoperable with modern designs.

 An AS2317.1-2018 Eyebolt. Note the Transverse Load Rating indicated with arrows

 

Up-to-date Eyebolts

Modern eyebolt standards for lifting:

 

Type

What are they for?

What do they look like?

Best Practice for General Lifting

GS-OA 15-04 compliant eyebolts with DGUV approved conformity manufactured to EN1677

These eyebolts are made for general purpose lifting within similar operating parameters as matching chain slings for lifting.

 

Reputable manufacturers and comprehensive instructions are necessary but these eyebolts are less prone to misuse than others.

 

It is vital to have a manufacturer endorsed instruction set which interoperates with local sling standards (AS3775 in particular).

 

These eyebolts take various forms, it is therefore most important to pay attention to manufacturer literature.

ASME B30.26 Swivel Hoist Rings from Selected Global Manufacturers

Best Practice for Lifting With Traditional Eyebolts

Collared Eyebolts compliant to AS2317.1-2018

These eyebolts are made with Australian sling standards in mind. They must be used strictly in accordance with the standard’s care & use provisions as they are still a single piece component without a swivel facility.

These eyebolts generally look identical to the old AS2317 or BS4278 dimension table but are readily identifiable by the presence of transverse rating markings with arrows at 90° to the thread axis.

 

The Right Horse for the Right Course

One of the most difficult things for specifiers to come to terms with, is conflicting advice. This can have all sorts of undesirable outcomes. These are usually painted in terms of reduced safety, but are also responsible for increased costs or reduced performance.

The best advice is to choose the right product for the right job.

An example of this is the DIN580 type eyebolt. These are very common to the extent that they are almost pure hardware items.

 

A DIN 580 Style Eyebolt

If reference is made to their governing standard we see that they were genuinely drawn up with lifting in mind – yet the most common and correct advice is that they should not be used for lifting!

This conundrum also afflicts BS, ISO, JIS and ASME eyebolts taking a similarly old-fashioned collared eyebolt format. It is vexing, because for lesser applications they may be an excellent and highly economical choice.

The answer is simple – have you set in place sufficient end user and engineering controls for your eyebolt needs?

  • If the answer is yes – then something like a DIN 580 eyebolt could be the right choice.
  • If the answer is no – then something like a modern GS-OA 15-04 compliant or Australian Standard AS2317.1-2018 eyebolt becomes vital for safety in the workplace.

 

Help is at Hand 

Fortunately Nobles is here to help. Every type of eyebolt is within our scope to supply, design, engineer and inspect. Our inspection and load testing technicians are available to manage your fleet of eyebolts covering every on site need throughout Australia.

Whatever the size or purpose our sales team and engineering department are ready with the right advice and consultation for eyebolts in your workplace.

 Nobles Engineered Eyebolt For Straight Pull

Disclaimer: As comprehensive as we’d like this article to be, there are of course other eyebolt standards worth noting including such things as rules for theatrical, height safety and specialised requirements in heavy industry.

For any lifting application, the competency of the end user is an essential requirement.

 

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