What is an Air Balancer?
In case you are unaware of what an air balancer here is a simple description of what they are: they are specially designed machines meant to help assist in transferring loads ergonomically, they have superior control over similar products such as the standard air hoist when it comes to finding and positioning loads. These ergonomic masterpieces even allow for an operator to be able to take their hand off of the pendant and the item will then “float” into position.
So now that you know what an air balancer is we can move onto the next portion of this post, how to safely use an air balancer. So here are some tips to keep in mind either before your employee or you use an air balancer.
Ensure that the person who is operating the air balancer has the proper training on how to operate an air balancer
Inspect the air balancer before each shift and annually
Make sure the operator is fit to use the air balancer (i.e. they have good hearing, vision and depth perception)
Do not operate the equipment if it is being inspected
Ensure that everything is out of the way before you operate the air balancer (i.e. people)
Make sure the operator has read the air balancer manual
Ensure that the air balancer is properly hanging before you operate it
Never set the air pressure over 0.7MPa
Never leave a load unattended or lift a load that is greater than the maximum capacity (which will be marked on the body of the air balancer)
If you move a load with a plain trolley do NOT push the wire rope but instead, push the load itself.
Ensure that the load hook can swivel smoothly before you operate the air balancer
When positioning the sling to make sure that it is located in the centre or on the load hook
When you start to lift, stop the air balancer when the wire rope becomes tensed
Do Not use the air balancer if it has a slackened wire rope or if the air balancer is lying on the floor or located on the floor
Maintenance & Inspections
A huge part of ensuring an air balancer continues to work the way you want it to is maintenance and inspections which are why this next part is dedicated to what a certified inspector will be looking at when they inspect your air hoist and how you can maintain your air hoist.
Ensure the air supply is shut off before starting maintenance, inspection or repairs
Make sure you employ a trained specialist to carry out any maintenance, inspections and repairs to your air balancer
Double-Check that you have removed the load from the air balancer before any maintenance, inspection or repairs begin
Any worn or damaged parts should be replaced immediately when they are detected during periodic inspections
When the hooks become stretched, worn and/or damaged they should immediately be discarded
Make sure a sign is put up stating “Equipment Being Inspected” before any maintenance, inspections or repairs commence
Ensure you follow the lubrication instructions (this will be found in the air balancer manual)
Verify that the air balancer has a regulator and filter (that are in working order)
Wire Rope Inspection:
For information on wire, inspections feel free to read this article.
If the hook shows any of these signs you should immediately discard it
The hook is visibly stretched or it is opening dimension is different from specified
The hook is deformed or cracked
There is wear on the hook’s saddle where the lifting sling/suspension fastening rests
The hook latch is damaged or malfunctioning
You don’t just have to wait for your annual inspections; you can also complete your own daily inspections as well (often called frequent inspections) to ensure that your air balancer is safe to operate.
Before Startup Check:
Make sure the wire rope is not kinked, deformed, damaged or worn (for more information about wire rope you can read this article)
Make sure the load hook is not stretched or damaged and ensure that the hook is in the normal position
Check the wire ropes edge and ensure that it comes out enough from the clamp
Look over the trolley wheel track and the rails properly and ensure the wheels and rails are not worn
Make sure the lifting sling/suspension fastening is not worn or damaged
Idling Operation Check:
Look for any indications on the push button switches and ensure that they show the actual directions (up/down operations)
Make sure the ball stopper is not in contact with the main housing unit
Load Operation Check
Pick up the maximum/near-maximum capacity a couple inches from the floor. Then check the air balancers ability to stop and hold the load without causing excessive drift
Make sure the hoisting speed can be changed from low to high speed
Ensure the air balancer is not making any abnormal noises or vibrations
Overall an air balancer requires maintenance and inspections to be able to work properly, which is why it is so important to have them inspected because a certified inspector because they will be able to catch any issues with the air balancer that you may not have even known, was there.
Do you have an air balancer?
How often do you have your air balancer inspected?
Have you ever operated an air balancer and if so what was is it like?
Share your opinion/story in the comments below!