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New Synthetic Sling Makes Heavy Lifts Safer and Easier at Shipyard

Fortis² multipart sling by Yale Cordage is strong and resistant to abrasion.

  Content and photo courtesy of Jamie Goddard, Vice-President of Sales at Yale Cordage
  Content and photo courtesy of Jamie Goddard, Vice-President of Sales at Yale Cordage

At a large American shipyard, a new kind of synthetic sling is replacing massive, heavy steel wire slings. The product, a multipart sling by Yale Cordage called Fortis², is just as strong and resistant to abrasion as its wire counterparts of the same diameter, at a fraction of the weight. And unlike other synthetic lifting slings, it exhibits the same stiffness characteristics as wire, making it possible to use synthetics in applications that were previously not recommended.

Synthetic round slings were already being used at the shipyard for certain jobs, and the light weight and bullish strength of those products were appreciated by the workers. But before they could switch from steel to synthetic for their very heaviest lifts, they had to be assured that the material would alleviate three main concerns:

Fortis² multipart slingAbrasion – With their older synthetic slings, the shipyard workers knew they had to pay attention to abrasive conditions. Under a heavy enough load, bunching on the shackle or pick point or a slight movement of the pick could tear a sling's sleeve. The shipyard needed to know that this would not be a factor with the new synthetic slings.

Stiffness – Traditional rope slings lack the stiffness needed to set up very large lifts. To rig massive ship pieces weighing in excess of 30 tons, workers often needed to push the sling underneath the object and hook it on the other side. A rope sling couldn't be pushed under such loads.

Stretch – Because some lifts would take place under ceiling-height constraints, the slings used needed to exhibit low and predictable stretch levels. The shipyard needed to be assured that any constructional elongation would take place in the manufacturing stage, and that the product they received would have very low stretch and a load curve as predictable as that of steel.

To that point, a synthetic solution that alleviated all of their concerns had never existed as an option, so they relied on steel. But steel had drawbacks in terms of safety and productivity. Understanding the shipyard's concerns and excited about the challenge, Yale Cordage began developing a synthetic lifting sling that did everything the wire ones could, at a fraction of their weight. The sling had to have the same reliable lifting capacity, the same low elongation and, crucially, the same stiffness as steel – minus the weight, birdcaging, sharp edges and threat of injury.

Ultimately, Yale Cordage delivered the product: a synthetic multipart sling of the same length, stretch characteristics and stiffness as the wire ones the shipyard was using, but with an even better lifting capacity. Despite its 50-ton capacity, the new 15-foot sling weighed in at just 44 pounds. The product is now called Fortis², a multipart sling made of Unitrex XS™ Max Wear synthetic cable, which has a core of Honeywell Spectra® HMPE fiber encased with a neoprene coating and overbraided with a tough high-tenacity polyester jacket. Because the core fiber in Unitrex is parallel-braided to minimize twist and then sealed in place with the neoprene layer, the fiber retains its optimal strength and exhibits stiffness comparable to wire.

Safer, Easier and More Ergonomic Lifts

weight comparisonThe Fortis² slings quickly became the first choice of the indoor rigging team. Instead of involving multiple workers and possible multiple machines, the new slings can be picked up by one person who can carry it over, slide it under the hook and complete the job without needing help from a co-worker or machine. More than two years later, the original Fortis² slings have proven their durability, and as old wire slings get retired, they are all being replaced with Fortis². Out in the yard, they have begun using 55-foot Fortis² slings, which are rated to 100 tons and can be lifted and moved around without a crane or forklift. Compared with their 1,000-pound wire counterparts, these slings weigh just 160 pounds.

While every construction site has its own set of considerations and variables, the same Fortis² technology being used in major shipyards can maximize efficiency and minimize common jobsite hazards during construction of buildings, bridges, airplanes and more. For more information on Fortis2 slings and how they could lighten your load, contact Cableworks!

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