Material Hoist VS Personnel Hoist: Which One Do You Need?

May 26, 2022Construction Industry, Equipment

As a contractor, it is imperative to provide the right material and equipment that could get the job done. One typical device that is found commonly on construction sites is the hoist. 

In this post, you will learn the basic information about hoists and their different types underscoring the distinction between the material hoists and personnel hoists. 

What is a Hoist?

What is a Hoist

A hoist is used to vertically move supplies and work crew from the ground to any floor and vice versa. A hoist is absolutely necessary for building construction if you wish to secure ease and security in transporting materials and personnel.

Having a hoist during construction saves you more time and money as the mode of transfer requires less manual labor while keeping the logistical goods and passengers safe. It also has low maintenance and transport costs. 

Types of Hoists

There are several types of hoist devices. It could be distinguished based on operation type, lifting medium, suspension, and general purpose. Here are the categories of different types of hoists. 

Based on Operation

  • Manual Hoist

A manual hoist is operated by hand chain and load chain to control the up and down movement of the deliverables. It is considered a lower cost but requires more work especially in lifting heavier loads. The chains are typically made of durable steel to guarantee the safety of heavy loads. 

  • Powered Hoist

The powered hoist can be operated by electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic mechanisms. It has a wide array of lifting gears and can lift heavy loads faster compared to a manual hoist.

Based on Lifting Medium

  • Chain Hoist

As the name implies, a chain hoist utilizes metal chains to lift or lower the load. It draws the chain through sprockets and then transfers it to a container. It can be operated manually, electrically, or pneumatically. Contractors often choose a chain hoist over wire rope as it is more economical and requires lower maintenance. 

  • Wire Rope Hoist

A wire rope hoist uses wire rope to move heavy loads vertically. The wire rope cable is wrapped around a grooved drum to execute the lifting. Similar to a chain hoist, it can be controlled manually or via automated power. 

Based on Suspension

  • Hook Mounted

Hook mounted hoists contain a top hook on the hoist frame that is utilized to suspend the hoist from the clevis or suspension pin of a trolley. It can also be placed on a fixed suspension device that receives the hook or it can be staged on a beam or the structural framework of a building. This type of hoist usually has a lifting medium made of welded link load chain or roller load chain considering it is always in line with the top hook.  

  • Lug Mounted

Lug mounted hoists bear a lug mounting fastened to the top of the hoist frame. It can also be attached as a fundamental inclusion of the frame itself. A lug-mounted hoist is typically suspended from a trolley, beam, or structural framework through suspension pins or studs. 

  • Trolley Mounted

Trolley-mounted hoists are defined primarily by the presence of trolleys or trolleys that allow travel motion. They can be hook mounted, lug mounted, or clevis mounted attached to the trolley/s. 

Based on Purpose

  • Material Hoist

Material hoists are intended for transporting goods and supplies. Some hoists take exclusivity in terms of the kind of load. Material hoists commonly should only be used to lift objects and construction stocks and not the work crew.

  • Personnel Hoist

Personnel hoists are designed to allow passengers such as masons, contractors, roofers, installers, and maintenance crew to transfer from one floor to another.

What is the difference between Material Hoist and Personnel Hoist?

Difference between Material Hoist and Personnel Hoist

Although the names speak for themselves in terms of which hoist can serve a specific load, there are several characteristics that are needed to be screened in order for a contractor to be decisive when it comes to choosing the right kind of hoist.

To understand which one you really need for construction, let’s dig deeper into how they work.

1. Function:

Material hoists exclusively carry materials, which means they can’t be used to transport personnel. Meanwhile, personnel hoists can be used to transport both materials and the work crew.


2. Dimension:

  • Material Hoist: Structurally speaking, it contains a fully confined car with a typical dimension of 5’ x 13’ x 7’. It has a base fence enclosure, full-height doors, and landing gates.
  • Personnel Hoist: It is mechanically equipped with cars that are permanently enclosed on all sides with dimensions that could range from   4’ x 10’, 5’ x 10’, 5’ x 12’, and 5’ x 13’. The most common car dimension is 5’ x 12’.Some personnel hoists can be modified to fit in an elevator shaft. For example, hoist cars can be reduced to an overall dimension of 4’ x 6’. Car units can also come in singles or doubles. Both types of hoists have a base fence with full-height doors and landing gates.


  3. Hoist Tower

  • Material Hoist: According to OSHA, material hoists can be operated with or without an enclosure on all sides. When enclosed, it has a screen enclosure of ½ inch mesh, No. 18 U.S. gauge wire, or an equivalent alternative. If it is not enclosed, the hoist car should still be enclosed or caged on all sides for the entire height following the aforementioned dimensions and material type.
  • Personnel Hoist: OSHA requires a personnel hoist enclosure for the full height on the sides of the entry and exit part of the platform. It is required to be enclosed at least 10 feet in height. On the other hand, the other sides of the tower are enclosed 10 feet above the level of the floors or scaffolds. 


4.  Lifting operation: 

  • Material Hoist: In terms of operation, material hoists commonly use electrically controlled hydraulic pumps or gas-powered hydraulic pumps.
  • Personnel Hoist: Personnel hoists are usually electrically operated. The operators control the hoists by using a joystick, lever, or pushbuttons, which control the VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) subsequently regulating the up and down motion of the hoist. 


5.  Speed:

  • Material Hoist: A typical speed for a material hoist is 12-24 meters per minute. However, it is important to understand that speed can vary based on the weight of the load, the dimension of the car, and other operational factors.
  • Personnel Hoist: The average speed of a personnel hoist is between 175 to 300 feet per minute and load capacity may vary depending on the dimension and brand.


6.  Applications

  • Material Hoist: Material hoists that only cater to logistical supplies are best for constructing low-rise buildings such as common residential buildings, motels, and apartment complexes. It can also be utilized for refurbishment work, furniture lifting, and scaffolding applications.
  • Personnel Hoists: On the other hand, personnel hoists are effectively used for the construction of mid-rise to high-rise buildings such as hotels, skyscrapers, office buildings, and tower blocks.


  7. Assembly:

Both material hoists and personnel hoists require a qualified operator to ensure the reliability and safety of using the equipment. They are typically erected through a crane. Some personnel hoists can also be erected with a Gin pole, but it will require additional cost.


Finding Your Hoists of Choice

Evaluating the kind of hoist you need that perfectly fits the type of construction that you’re working in and the allocated logistical budget requires consideration of factors such as a marginal area for erection, the height of the project, and the construction timetable.  

One particular quality of a fine hoist, especially personnel hoists, is customizability. Construction size should be greatly considered when renting a hoist along with assembly. Choosing between material hoists and personnel hoists can also be influenced by the type of structure you are building. 

If you are still in doubt about what type of hoist you should need for your construction project, you can work with established hoist rental companies. Find a hoisting service provider that is fully equipped with trained operators and updated devices. A key component of a reliable hosting service is a comprehensive construction hoist safety program.

United Hoist has been excellent to work with from the initial pricing phase throughout on site operation.  They have met all the dates needed on site to erect the hoist and have continued to service as scheduled/needed.  Our estimating, management and field staff have been pleased with United Hoist on our projects.

Heath M.

Vice President

Quote Request