News and events

CRANKS, HOISTS & WINCHES: developments in engineering

Various devices for moving objects have been used for a very long time. For instance, think of animal-drawn grain mills driven by donkeys pushing a piece of a wood, or structures designed to extract water from a well with minimum effort thanks to a bull pulling a rope. To manufacturethese, humans usedtree branches, rope, buckets, reservoirs, and animals, in order to facilitate harvest.

puit a traction animale


Eventually, humans began using their own strength in specific endeavours requiring more precise output control.

Utilisation de la force humaine et d'outils de manutention


Realising human and animal strengthis limited, engineers over timeshifted from manual work to using hydraulics and motors (powered first by gas then by electricity). Scientific and technologic advances allowedthem to improvethe durability, security, and efficacy of hoists, winches, and other mechanical devices. Eventually, these allowed even the heaviest objects to be moved with little time and effort.

Palan Grypto Gear

A key player inadvancing the mechanical and technological design of heavy object transport and handling is John Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins 

19th century American entrepreneurfrom Baltimore (Maryland), abolitionist and philanthropist, John Hopkins played a key role in the United States in education, healthcare, African-American civil rights, and, of course, the economy. John Hopkins co-owned the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (or B&O Railroad, which is the railroad present in the famous Monopoly board game) and the Detroit Foundry Equipment company (which became the Whiting Foundry Equipment Company), and he was president of the Merchants' Bank. The money he left behind led to the foundation of an eponymous university and hospital.

John Hopkins

Three-motor overhead cranes

By 1884, North American industry had really taken off, and railroads played a key part in this development, providing essential transport. This climate was key to fostering development of structures and devices to move heavy objects. Increased rail travel led to increased rail maintenance. It is in these circumstances that Whiting designed and built, in a repair factory in Harvey, Illinois, the first overhead crane with three motors, able to move an entire carriage over hundreds of feet.

Ponts roulants à trois moteurs


Indeed, these two revolutionary three-motor overhead cranes allowed workers to lift locomotive parts orcarriages, move entire cars to different repair zones, and set up large equipment with much more ease and efficiency than the norm at that time. Today, Vulcan hoists, trolleys, and winches are used to support and move workers' platforms during bridge repairs, as with the Dubuc Bridge in Chicoutimi (image below).   

Palans Pont Dubuc, Chicoutimi


Originally, speed was low and capacity was limited (max. 40 tons). Design and capacity of overhead cranes increased roughly every 20 years:

  • In 1880, overhead craneswith a manually-operated craneappeared;
  • In 1900,cranesoperated with an electrical motor for each motionwere designed;
  • In 1920, precise norms for cranes in general and for varioustypes of serviceswere established; 
  • In 1940, the closed gearbox, roller bearings, and standard designs appeared;
  • In 1960, crane control was modified, leading to better operation, safer load handling, remote control, and tighter security, a key characteristic in the protection of staff and equipment.
  • Today, you can find lifting speeds beyond 200 feet per minute, or crane speeds as high as 1,000 feet per minute, and lifting units able to handle weights as high as 500 tonnes with a single hook.
Palans Industrie agroalimentaire


Vulcan lifting tools are used by various industries, from harbour loading docks to heavy load transport in mines, as well as construction, motor and aerospace engineering, and the food industry such as breweries (see above image).

Whiting and Vulcan Hoist 

Half a century later, in the 1950s, the Whiting Hoist company, based in Welland, Ontario, drew up plans for roller chain hoist. Then, in the 1960s, the Vulcan Hoist Company Ltd. in Montreal bought the fabrication rights for Whiting hoists, and has since been improving on and modernising these hoists, while maintaining the original Whiting quality and robustness.

Proud to be the only manufacturer of electric chain hoists, trolleys and winches in Canada

Vulcan Hoist Company Ltd. is a manufacturer of lifting devices active since 1947, and the only Canadian manufacturer of chain hoists, trolleys, and electric winches. Base in Montreal, the company provides its customers with robust, reliable, and bespoke products made to suit their needs. Since 1973, it also boasts a full range of hoists, ratchet levers, clamps, grapples, and other lifting-related products. Beyond sales, the company offers rental, reparation, and certification services, thanks to its local qualified staff and its full inventory.

Here are some products and tools used today in the handling and moving of heavy objects:

Vulcan featured products

The range of Vulcan products is one of the best known in Canadian and North American industry. Certified to ANSI standards, it stands out with its robust, reliable, and safe devices. Vulcan products, from electric or manual hoiststo ratchet levers, winch trolleys or lifting clamps, are designed for extreme uses. These products boast unparalleled reliability. Vulcan's electrical products are particularly notable due to their unique characteristics, and are known for their manoeuvrability in all types of environments (humid areas, tight spaces, motor cooling systems, etc.)

Vulcan featured products

Furthermore, 88% of parts are swappable between different hoist models, thereby minimising maintenance costs.

Do you have an ambitious project?

Let our team of experts design a custom lifting solution for you.

Palans - demandez un devis



Sources textuelles :

Images :