Getting heavy

25 June 2018

Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd. (RSS) is raising the capacity and diversity of its rigging stock, whilst equipping itself to respond to increasing demand for complex below-the-hook solutions, to more efficiently serve the heavy-lift sector.

RSS attends to a myriad of industries from six UK locations but its most recently opened site is in Warrington, as part of a nationwide focus on heavier and often specialised rigging gear.

Steve Hutin, managing director at RSS, said: “Our heavy-lift initiative is two-pronged in that we want to ensure we have the product and expertise to respond to demand, but we must also continue to raise our profile in the sector so more industry professionals view us as a company capable of delivering below-the-hook solutions at the higher end of the marketplace.”

He continued: “In the first instance, we are looking at our stock levels and manufacturing capabilities, but we are also repositioning the image of the company in certain areas to capitalise on the growth we detect where heavy lifting equipment is concerned; we recently signed off on promotional materials that focused on our capability to supply heavy lifting and crane accessories.

There is also a good tie-in with our inspection, repair, and other divisions of the company.”

Hutin was reluctant to state a capacity at which he feels the heavy-lift market begins. He said: “Some might say anything over 250t is a heavy lift but we have equipment suppliers with the engineering capability to go into the thousands of tonnes. Taking into account the super- or mega heavy end of the market, the lines are blurred further. That’s why we look at the sector not only in terms of capacity but also in the context of complexity, where a spreader beam, slings, and other rigging gear might be required beneath the hook of a single crane.”

Hutin was actually keen not to highlight Warrington as the fulcrum for this renewed heavy lift focus. “Demand [for heavy lifting equipment] is nationwide,” he said. “In fact, at the forefront of our marketing endeavours is the message that we can provide rigging products and services across the UK. Further, we’re not limiting our growth strategy to supply of product—hire, sales, and inspection services are collectively important.”

RSS does not want to enter the contract crane market, whereby it would source a crane and deliver a complete lifting package to clients.

This exclusive focus on rigging equipment has opened doors with major and regional crane rental firms. 

The company has also recently put to work new testing equipment at its Warrington facility. A 60t fixed, horizontal test bed from AJT Equipment Ltd. and a 100t Worlifts jack tester were both delivered in May 2018 as the machines, which will be utilised to generate and respond to demand, become immediate focal points of the 6,500sq ft workshop.

Hutin said: “We purchased the machines outright so timing the investment was important. There would have been little to gain in getting them delivered as we opened the doors, while waiting for demand that equated to constant utilisation would have resulted in turning away too many customers.

It’s not a precise science but we’re confident the timing is right to make this commitment to the local marketplace, buoyed by favourable conditions in the heavy-lift sector, in particular.”

The new tensile test machine will enable RSS to conduct proof load, destruction, and long life cyclic testing of samples.

Utilising a modular construction the machine can be made to any length required and, importantly, can be extended at a later date if required. A rolling carriage is included to give the advantage of multiple test lengths along the entire machine length. The 100t ‘Samson’ test rig, meanwhile, is a compact, vertical machine, manufactured specifically with lifting equipment service and supply companies in mind.

Until now, the company’s splicing capability is limited to the Pyle site, where a 1,000t Sahm Splice hydraulic press produces 55t capacity, 64mm diameter slings, while 35t capacity, 52mm diameter slings are made by a smaller Talurit unit. However, Hutin said expansion of the fleet is inevitable—at Warrington and other facilities in due course.

He concluded: “Business [in Warrington] is progressing in line with our expectations; it can take up to two years to get a new depot fully up to speed so to commit to a major installation of testing equipment after 12 months is testament to the hard work that has been put in by the now five strong team at the site and the positive response we have received from the market.”