- Ben Nordman
National Safety Month: MagnaLift & Power-Grip Lift Magnets
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Following up our last #ObsidianMFG surface grinding blog to go along with National Safety Month, it’s only appropriate to bring you some lift magnet considerations when it comes to safety.
Lifting material is essential to companies as it is the only way many can even move their material. Serving a wide range of industries, MagnaLift and Power-Grip lift magnets have provided a steady, uncomplicated supply of lift magnets for decades, providing an undeniably large impact on the development of the infrastructure of the United States as well as globally.
Just like with all machine tools, lift magnets also degrade with continual heavy usage. As lift magnets wear, the likelihood of a failure to properly lift increases due to multiple dynamics. These dynamics fall under three different categories: load characteristics, preventative maintenance, and natural conditions.
While this might be a cheat sheet to lift magnet safety, these are not the only considerations when moving your material. Specific conditions and material is always going to make lifting safety different from company to company.
While the magnet might do the most work, the load characteristics are just as important when it comes to safe lifting. First, making sure that both the load and the magnet have clean, flat lifting surfaces is important. Magnetism relies on a solid connection between the magnet and the load with no air in between the two. Cracks, rust, chips, and burrs all make the connection spotty between the magnet and the load surface. Light deburring can assist in making the surfaces flat, but deeper and heavier gouges might require grinding.
Other load characteristics such as weight, length, width, and thickness all make an impact. Obviously be sure that the weight of the material is not too much for the magnet to lift beyond its rated lifting capacity, which depends on the model.
Beyond the weight, thickness is another aspect to consider. Magnetism requires iron to actually attract, meaning the more iron present the better the connection there will be. In terms of thickness, the thicker the piece, the more iron there is, and the better the connection will be.
With length and width, droopiness is the issue when a piece is too long or too wide and not thick enough. Remembering that any air between magnet and piece causes air to be trapped between and weaken connection strength, when a piece of material sags on the ends or sides, that can allow air to get between the lifting surface.
The actual material that is being lifted is also crucial in being safe. With each alloy containing differing amounts of iron, the strength of connection can differ between two different materials. Keep this in mind as you are lifting different materials.
Preventing anything from happening always will come before dealing with the aftermath of an incident taking place. There’s no difference with lift magnets. Keeping the components of the lift magnet current is the main key to preventative maintenance.
A majority of the magnets designed and built under the MagnaLift and Power-Grip lines are operated by a regular car battery. With each battery, maintaining a solid charge is important to magnet a strength. A battery that is low on power will cause the magnet to lose some power that it should have. An overnight charge will give the battery and magnet the ability to lift all day.
The panel meter indicates the degree of charge of the battery. For a fully charged battery the meter pointer will be ¼ into the safe green area on the magnet side and represents 12 volts. The green/red boundary represents 10.8 battery volts. Further dropping of voltage (into RED zone) reduces the magnet lifting capacity to an unsafe condition. If in the red zone, the magnet should not be used to lift.
Along with battery maintenance, annual testing and certification will avoid any failures of other components within the magnet. Sending your magnet to us to test and then certify helps ease the pain of knowing how much life a magnet has left. If a magnet fails our extensive testing, we recommend next steps, whether it be a rebuild or the potential for a new magnet.
Of course not everything is always in the operator’s control. Natural conditions such as temperature that the magnet is operated in affects the lifting ability of the magnet. Car batteries can be affected by temperature changes. Think of how difficult it is to start a car in the middle of winter. Applying that to lift magnets, operators need to be wary of how the magnet is stored and sudden temperature changes with their lift magnets.
Like a lot of machine tools, lift magnets have safety protocols that need to be met in order to keep an operator safe. While not everything above applies in all situations, these general guidelines can be followed to keep everyone safe. Always be sure to follow the official guidelines put forth by OSHA in your shop. Look HERE for more information about lift magnet safety and check out artergrinder.com later this week for Arter Precision Grinding Machine safety!