Saturday, April 2, 2016

Winches: A brief Insight

A winch is a mechanical device generally used to adjust the tension of a wire rope. These vary widely in their form ranging from only consisting of a spool and an attached hand crank in simplest forms to being much more advanced containing gear assemblies, powered hydraulically or electrically that stand at the core of many modern machines such as tow trucks, elevators etc. Owing to their optimal functionality in adjusting wire rope tension, it's safe to assume that winches are used in some form across all major industries.

Historical anecdotes dating back to around 5th century B.C of the usage of winches have been found. These were generally made of wood and used to erect pontoon bridges and also in ships to pull in or let out wind through the sails. Since the aforementioned date, winches have continued to evolve. Today winch manufacturers make these out of various materials and with various working methods. Winch suppliers today, offer varied types of winches including snubbing, wake skate, glider and air winches.

Application areas :

These are widely used in different machines across all major sectors and in all geographies from land, water to air.
  •     Small sailing boats
  •     Machines used in waterspouts
  •     Skiing and snowboarding machines
  •     Gliders
  •     Construction industry for lifting of heavy materials
  •     Also used in oil and gas exploration
  •     Steam shovels

Principles to follow while mounting a winch :
  • These should be mounted as close to the center and as perpendicular to the direction of the line pull as possible
  • The winch drum center line should be mounted on a horizontal plane for ensuring optimal lubrication to both ends of the winch
  • The surface on which the winch is being mounted must be flat and rigid enough to withstand full rated line pull
  • These shall be properly attached to the mounting base to support the full rated load during usage
  • Other recommendations given by suppliers or manufacturers should be completely followed while mounting

Some safety precautions to follow while operating a winch:
  •  Never shift a winch while it is under load
  • Always wear proper safety equipments while performing repairs
  • Do not operate a winch under influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Do not put hands or feet near the rotating parts of winches. Although,  these are designed in such a way so as to minimize human contact with rotating parts during use, still due care should be taken
  • Only authentic spare parts should be used for repair or replacement works