Moving heavy sheets of steel plate around your shop or job site can be easy and safe if you have a proper set of plate clamps. Plate clamps will work with just about any piece of equipment or hoist that you can attach a chain to and can be a life saver (literally) in certain situations. They provide a great amount of predictable control on plates that are oriented either vertically or horizontally. Depending on the situation and rigging you can use between 1-4 clamps on a single sheet of steel to give you the desired amount of control you need.
Plate clamps can be very dangerous if used incorrectly. Always be sure to place yourself in a position where if a plate clamp was to fail you are clear of being injured. If used correctly a plate clamp can be a lot safer than other plate moving alternatives. Take a look at this video below to learn more. You can also check out OSHA safety standards for rigging equipment here.
Vertical Plate Clamps
Vertical plate clamps are used on plates that are stacked upright on their side and can be used in a variety of configurations. These are the most popular plate clamps and are often times used on forklifts and other heavy equipment to move plates around quickly. Vertical plate clamps can be rigged in a variety of configurations depending on your needs.
Single Vertical Plate Clamp
A single vertical plate clamp can be used to pick up a sheet of steel, but it must be placed directly in the middle of the plate and the operator must take caution as the plate will swing along its center clamping point. Depending on your equipment this may or may not be a problem for you. It is often times recommend to have a spotter with an attached rope on the plate to control its swing. The spotter should stay as far away from the plate as possible for safety purposes.
It’s important to make sure the swinging plate will not swing and damage any hydraulic lines on your machine as this could lead to the machine’s hydraulic system failing casing the plate to hit the ground. Always be mindful of the range of motion of the swing of your plate in relation to your equipment.
Dual Vertical Plate Clamps
Dual vertical clamps can be used as well with a spreader bar and can provide a lot of control for the operator. It is very important to know that you do not want to use dual vertical clamps with a single anchor point (no spreader bar). This causes the clamps to put at a angle which is bad for the clamp and can cause them to fail. If using dual clamps be sure the pressure it being applied directly above the clamp.
Horizontal Plate Clamps
If you need to pick up a piece of plate and keep it flat while it’s being moved, then horizontal plate clamps are what you’re going to need. Horizontal plate clamps are often times used in sets of three and rigged to a single lifting point. These clamps are designed specifically for keeping plates flat while being moved and should not be used vertically.
We find these clamps very useful for moving plates from our forklift to our sawhorses using our shop crane. They’re easy to control and are much safer than other moving alternatives.