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Engineering Matters - Below the Hook Lifting Devices

Below the Hook Lifters are those helpful pieces of equipment that provide a connection point between the crane and the load being lifted. They can be structural mechanical lifting devices, vacuum lifters, magnets, and grapples. In order to provide direction regarding the design, marking, installation, inspection testing and much more, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has developed standards that apply specifically to these types of devices.

In 2006 The American Society of Mechanical Engineers released a new standard, ASME BTH-1 in order to provide clarification in regards to structural design requirements stated in ASME B30.20. The revision to ASME B30.20 that fully references ASME BTH-1 was published in January 2007 and became effective January 16, 2008. This new standard applies to all new product manufactured after January 16, 2008 and does not require that existing below the hook lifting devices be reworked to adhere to the new standard requirements.

ASME B30.20 provides detailed information on the classifications, marking, construction, installation, inspection, testing, maintenance, and operation of below the hook lifting devices. ASME BTH-1 provides detailed information on the design criteria of below the hook lifting devices. Here are some Quick Facts you need to know about below the hook lifting devices

Quick Facts

Marking: Below the hook lifting devices shall be marked with at least:

    • Manufacturer’s name and address ID Tag
    • serial number
    • lifter weight, if over 100 lbs. (45 kg)
    • cold current (amps) (when applicable)
    • rated voltage (when applicable)
    • rated load
    • ASME BTH-1 Design Category
    • ASME BTH-1 Service Class
    • Product Safety Labels

Service Class: Will determine the approximate life of a lifter:

Service Class

Load Cycles


0 – 20,000


20,001 – 100,000


100,001 – 500,000


500,001 – 2,000,000


Over 2,000,000

Installation: Lifting Equipment shall assembled and installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Operator Training: Lifters shall be operated in accordance with manufacturer’s operating instructions and by personnel who have received instructions in proper Operating Practices.

Inspection: The lifter shall be visually inspected by or under the direction of an appointed person on a daily or weekly schedule and by the operator prior to each lift.

Maintenance & Repairs: A preventative maintenance program should be established for each lifter. Repairs shall be in accordance with ASME standards. Replacement parts shall be at least equivalent to the original manufacturers specifications.

Operating Practices:

  • Do inspect the lifter prior to each lift.
  • Do read and understand all operating instructions.
  • Do watch carefully during the lift.
  • Don’t use a lifter with an out of service tag.
  • Don’t use a lifter for any other purpose than it was designed.
  • Don’t obscure markings or use a lifter when the markings are not legible or missing.

Handling the Load:

  • The lifter shall not be loaded in excess of its rated capacity.
  • The lifter shall be applied to the load as directed by the manufacturer.
  • All loads shall be accelerated and decelerated smoothly.
  • The operator or other personnel shall not place themselves or any part of their bodies beneath suspended loads.

This information is a very brief summary of what you need to look for in order to make an informed decision regarding the Lifting Devices you are considering or have already purchased.

Should you need additional clarification as to how the ASME standards affect your specific application, you can see our standard summary here, contact our application specialists, or obtain the latest version directly from ASME at ASME B30.20 or ASME BTH-1. We also have a more detailed care and use page available here.

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