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Spreader beams vs. lifting beams—do you understand the difference and which you should use for your next overhead lift?
Spreader beams and lifting beams are both two different types of below-the-hook lifting devices used to stabilize and support a load during an overhead lift. Both types of devices are used to keep the lifting slings below the device at or near a 90° angle (perpendicular to the horizon). This helps to avoid damage to the load, damage to rigging hardware and lifting slings, and helps keep the slings from sliding off of the load during the lift.
While spreader beams and lifting beams are the most popular types of below-the-hook lifting devices, there is a lot of confusion about the differences between the two in terms of how they’re designed and what they’re used for. The main difference between the two types of lifting devices is the types of forces that are applied to the beam.
Advantages of Using a Spreader Beam
Spreader beams convert lifting loads into compressive forces in the bar and tensile forces in the slings. Because of this, spreader beams are highly efficient in their use of material, so they’re typically smaller, lighter, and less expensive to design and manufacture than a lifting beam.
Because they use two lifting points instead of one singular lifting point, the weight of the load is distributed evenly across the beam, which eliminates the stress on a single lifting point. Spreader beams are ideal for lifting very wide or heavy-duty loads.
Spreader beams also help to control the load and when rigged properly, can reduce the chances of:
Load tipping, sliding, or bending
Crushing or damage to the load because you can control the sling angles
They can also be designed in fixed dimensions or can be engineered to allow for incremental adjustment of the sling angle, and the length of the beam itself, for off-center load adjustments.
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