How Testing, Certifying Equipment is Done

When it comes to selecting heavy lifting equipment for an upcoming project, there are a few things that need to be considered. Regardless of whether you choose to rent or buy, the most important thing to consider when choosing equipment is if it’s been inspected, tested and certified first. Hard costs such as rental fees or purchase price are only a small part of the total costs.

Most likely, you will not make the time to test and certify the equipment yourself; and you really should not have to in the first place, especially if you are not an expert in the equipment testing field. You also won’t necessarily have an employee on hand who’s trained to test and certify the equipment either. So, when you choose lifting equipment, you’re likely going on faith that it will last and your workers will be safe whilst using it. On a jobsite where anything can happen, I’m sure you would agree that your equipment must be reliable.

Obviously, the number one priority on a jobsite is to maintain and ensure the safety of yourself and every person there. While it’s something you can’t always guarantee no matter what, you can at least give yourself peace-of-mind in knowing that the equipment you rented or purchased was inspected and tested prior to rental or purchasing, and you have the certification to prove it. Having that certification is very important because its tangible proof that the equipment was tested prior to use and likely not to fail as long as the equipment is used correctly and according to guidelines. Let’s look at the different types of testing and equipment available.

A dynamic load test consists of performing an overload test of 125% of rated capacity, and testing the following functions where applicable: hoisting and lowering of load and hoist brake hold. The same test can be performed as the static load test, except but with a dynamic testing station, the equipment is hooked up to a computer that produces a graph of force over time. Once it reaches 125%, the technician can manipulate the equipment up and down to see if there any deficiencies. This type of testing actually exceeds current OSHA and ANSI standards. It is a smart choice when you can provide a worker, owner or customer legitimate proof that the piece of equipment has been properly tested while having a certificate to prove it. This is the current and most efficient way to illustrate that a piece of equipment is ready to be used again. These tests are typically conducted for all types of hoists, slings, winches and a host of other lifting gear.

The most compelling part of these dynamic tests is that they are designed to imitate actual working conditions. For example, a technician selects a 50 ton air chain hoist increasing it to 125% of its capacity (62.5 tons.) Then, they will manipulate the controls of the hoist simulating dynamic and shock loads. Measuring force over time, this test will reveal any deficiencies or confirm a successful test. Having a test certificate with a graph documenting the specific hoist provides confidence and peace of mind.

For physically longer pieces of equipment, you could use a dynamic horizontal testing bed measuring 72 ft. in length. It allows you to test winches, rigging hardware, slings or any equipment that requires a longer pull. It includes placing the equipment onto a 300,000 lb. heavy duty load cell and can be pull tested up to 6ft. of stroke allowing for a maximum test item of 52.5 ft. in length.

Dynamic vertical testing is typically reserved for shorter pieces of equipment such as a come-a-long or a hoist. Now, there is a direct correlation with the amount of stroke and the amount of force applied through that equipment. This testing device allows you to pull up to 5ft. of stroke. So, your stroking would be far less on a smaller hand chain hoist versus one with a larger capacity.

Still more common, mainly because of the shear cost of the dynamic testing equipment and training, is static testing. Static and dynamic are not vastly different in end goal from one another. The main difference is that a static load test is comprised of a stationary load test at 125% of equipment rated capacity; which is conducted to verify the structural and mechanical integrity of the lifting equipment. The technician would take a mechanical scale or digital load link, hook it to the equipment, and test it to 125% of rated and stamped capacity. Once it’s pulled to 125% of capacity, the technician would wait 10-20 seconds and if there is no failure, then it passed under load testing. This is the current standard set by OSHA and ANSI regulations.

In the end, putting safety first, it is critical to either make the commitment to invest in training, testing equipment and a recertification process and program, or find and use high-quality sources to take on the tasks for you. 

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