The 5t capacity hooks are equipped with a magnet that both attracts and positions slings and other rigging gear, providing inherent safety advantages in removing the requirement for personnel to access the hook to rig loads manually. Unloading crane vehicles can be particularly hazardous when rigging activity is required on top of fully loaded trucks.
Jewson personnel have also noted efficiency benefits, particularly when delivering timber. Previously, it was deemed too unsafe to load trucks to capacity because the stack would be too high when climbing onto it to attach rigging during offloads. This wasted capacity had a direct impact on productivity and profitability.
Chris Welch, area transport manager for the southeast region at Jewson, said: "A priority in my role is the safety of employees. The magnetic hooks have a direct positive impact on that end goal, but they have also offered us quantifiable efficiency benefits, most notably in allowing us to load our timber vehicles to capacity. The remotely controlled hooks also provide a safer, more efficient alternative to manual rigging when working with smaller loads."
Parent company Saint-Gobain made the initial purchase of a number of remote controlled hooks, which was followed with targeted training by John Hardy, of Elebia Ltd in the UK. As the hooks were integrated into more thorough lift programmes, Jewson started to yield the benefits.
Welch explained: "To make effective use of the hooks we had to make them integral to our crane and rigging strategy. Principally, we improved the way slings were stored so rigging gear compatible with the hooks is always on hand. The training itself also outlined the benefits of using the Elebia technology and drivers have embraced the concept."
Four units are attached to crane vehicles that serve Jewson's Market Way, Canterbury depot, while other branches are at earlier stages of the implementation process. Those depots and others will utilise the hooks as both permanently installed and interchangeable tools.
Welch said: "I oversee a fleet of 31 vehicles, ranging in weight from 18 to 26t, all of which offer around 3t lift capacity. We are a multifaceted business and sometimes grabs or other below-the-hook devices are more suitable, but we want at least every permanently installed hook to be automatic in the near future. If we conduct their introduction based on our experiences in Canterbury, the return on investment in safety and productivity will be evident across the business."