Hoist Chains 101: The Ultimate Handbook on Types, Usages,Best Practices and More

In the realm of material handling, chains serve as the backbone of equipment like chain pulley blocks and electric hoists. These sturdy links facilitate the lifting, lowering, and manoeuvring of heavy loads with precision and control. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of chains, exploring their types, significance, risks of compromising quality, and why opting for a hoist manufacturer is paramount for businesses.

Significance of Chains in Hoist

Hoist chains come in various grades and configurations to suit diverse lifting requirements. They are compatible with a wide range of hoist models and can be easily replaced, making them a versatile solution. When properly maintained and inspected, hoist chains provide dependable performance. Their robust construction and inherent resistance to breakage minimize the risk of failure, ensuring the safety of personnel and equipment.

In a hoist system, two types of chains are particularly crucial:

  • Hand Chain
  • Load Chain

Hand Chain: This serves as the “control chain” for operating the hoist. Typically made of low carbon steel compared to the load chain, it is thinner and easier to handle. 

Analogous to the steering wheel of a car, the hand chain operation transmits motion to the internal mechanism of a manually operated hoist, enabling the lifting or lowering of loads.

Load Chain: This chain bears the weight of the lifted object, making it the powerhouse of the hoist. Composed of high-strength alloy steel, it is thicker and sturdier than the hand chain, specifically engineered to handle heavy loads safely. Interacting with the hoist’s gears and levers, the load chain converts hand pulls into lifting power.

In the context of chain pulley blocks, the hand chain and load chain play crucial roles in the lifting and lowering process. The hand chain, also known as the lifting chain or operating chain, is manually operated by the user to engage the lifting mechanism. When the hand chain is pulled, it activates the gear system within the chain pulley block, allowing the load chain to move. The load chain, on the other hand, is directly responsible for bearing the weight of the load being lifted or lowered. It runs through the pulley system and is connected to the hook or lifting attachment, providing the necessary strength and stability to hoist the load safely. The quality and durability of both the hand chain and load chain are paramount in ensuring the reliability and safety of the chain pulley block operation.

Similarly, in electric chain hoists, the load chain takes on a similar significance. The load chain in electric chain hoists is driven by an electric motor, providing powered lifting and lowering capabilities. It serves the same function as in chain pulley blocks, bearing the weight of the load and transferring the lifting force from the hoist to the load being lifted. The load chain’s strength, material quality, and proper maintenance are essential factors in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of electric chain hoists.

Types of Chains in Hoist

When choosing the appropriate chain for your lifting needs, several factors must be taken into account. These may include unique lifting conditions necessitating features such as spark resistance or food-grade coatings. Key considerations involve evaluating the chain grade, material composition, and the availability of special finishes or coatings.

Carbon Steel Chains

Carbon steel chains (grades 30, 43, and 70) are versatile for heavy cargo tie-downs, container securement, and towing but are not suitable for overhead lifting in harsh acidic environments due to susceptibility to damage. For example, Grade 30 chains, such as IS 2419, are commonly preferred for hand chains in hoist systems.

Alloy Steel Chains

Alloy steel chains stand out as they are recommended for overhead lifting by both OSHA and ASME, unlike their carbon counterparts. These chains serve multiple purposes, including the construction of chain sling assemblies and various securement and towing tasks. Their higher strength-to-weight ratio enables them to withstand a minimum elongation percentage of 20% before breaking under overload conditions. Some of the most common types of alloy steel chains are.

Grade 80: Approved by OSHA, it is widely used for overhead lifting and sling assemblies. Its resilience to extreme heat without permanent damage makes it ideal for applications like steel mills. Manufacturers often provide larger link diameters in Grade 80 chains, making them suitable for high-capacity sling needs.

At Bajaj Indef we utilize Grade 80 chains in our chain pulley blocks, such as the Indef P, Indef M, Indef C, and Indef R models, as well as in our electric chain hoists, including the EH II hoist, HC+ Series, CH-III Series, and CH-IV Series.

In the HC+ series, we also use surface-hardened load chains that comply with DIN standards. Additionally, we offer the option of surface-hardened plus galvanized load chains to meet specific customer requirements.

Grade 100: Similar to Grade 80, the grade 100 chain receives approval from OSHA and ASME for overhead lifting and finds frequent use in sling assemblies. It offers a 25% higher strength-to-weight ratio compared to Grade 80, along with improved abrasion resistance due to its slightly harder surface material. However, Grade 100 chain slings can become heavy and necessitate larger end fittings for heavy-duty tasks, making Grade 80 a more feasible option in such scenarios.

Grade 120:  Identified by vibrant finishes like blue or green, Grade 120 boasts a superior strength-to-weight ratio compared to the Grade 100 chain, due to its larger cross-sectional area per link. However, its production costs are higher, resulting in a pricier end product. While the grade 120 chain isn’t as commonly used for overhead lifting as Grade 100 or Grade 80, it may be necessary in rare instances where its unique features are essential. 

Stainless Steel Lifting Chain

Stainless steel lifting chains composed of nickel, chromium, and other metals are versatile tools utilized across various industries for hoisting, material handling, and traction purposes. With the ability to withstand different loads and boasting a large safety factor, these chains are lightweight and easily transportable. Their high tensile strength, fatigue strength, and impact toughness, coupled with excellent wear and corrosion resistance, make them ideal for harsh environments. 

Explosion-Proof Lifting Chain

Hoisting chains can be used in explosion-proof environments just like in normal settings, but they must be paired with non-ferrous mating components.

These chains prevent the risk of combustion, fire, and explosions that could occur with ordinary metal chains due to mechanical sparks for example in our Indef P, Indef M and EH II hoist (Baby Hoist) models, we provide spark-proof options. They are suitable for various industries with potential fire and explosion hazards, including petroleum, chemical, electronics, and mining. 

Galvanized Chain

Galvanizing a lifting chain prevents oxidation, rust, and corrosion, thus improving performance and safety. The zinc coating protects the chain from moisture and air, reducing friction, increasing wear resistance, and prolonging use. Even in humid conditions, galvanized chains are less prone to rust, extending their service life. If the galvanized layer is damaged, timely repair is essential to prevent further harm to the chain. We utilise galvanised and tempered high tensile load chains in our STIER Ratchet Lever Hoist

 Risks Associated With Compromised Chain Quality

When it comes to lifting critical loads, the quality of your chain is anything but trivial. Cutting corners on chain quality can have serious consequences, not just for your wallet, but for your safety and the smooth running of your operation. 

Imagine this: You’re lifting a heavy load with a chain, and suddenly, it snaps. What happens next? In the best-case scenario, it’s just a damaged load and a costly replacement. In the worst case, it could lead to injuries or even fatalities. Inferior chains are more prone to premature wear, elongation, and failure under heavy loads. 

Greater is the risk when improper manufacturing processes and substandard raw materials are used by suppliers who are not authorized/approved suppliers of hoist manufacturers. The hoist manufacturer controls and monitors the quality of the chain and assures the quality norms. These risks aren’t just theoretical. Every year, accidents occur due to faulty chains, putting personnel and property at risk.

Further low-cost chains might seem like a good deal upfront, but they can cost you more in the long run. Frequent breakdowns, replacements, and repairs will disrupt your operations and eat into your profits. Low-quality chains require more frequent inspections, adding time and resources to your maintenance routine. 

Unexpected downtime due to breakdowns can bring your entire operation to a halt, costing you valuable production time and money. Cheap chains need replacing more often, leading to higher overall costs. Investing in high-quality chains with a proven track record can help you avoid these headaches and ensure your operations run smoothly and efficiently.

Why to Buy the Lifting Chains Directly From the Hoist Manufacturer?

Compatibility Assurance

When it comes to sourcing chains for hoists, opting for hoist-manufacturer solutions is a must. Hoist manufacturer chains are engineered to precise specifications, ensuring seamless compatibility with specific hoist models. By choosing hoist manufacturer chains, users can eliminate the risk of compatibility issues and ensure optimal performance. Hoist manufacturer offers chains based on application and usage patterns of load handling with the hoist.

Quality Assurance

Hoist manufacturers adhere to stringent quality control measures throughout the manufacturing process, guaranteeing the highest standards of quality and reliability. By purchasing chains from reputable hoist manufacturers, users can trust in the durability and performance of the product, minimizing the risk of premature failure or malfunction.

Hoist manufacturers always follow quality norms and inspection methods in line with design standards. Hoist manufacturers select the suppliers who are thoroughly audited for their manufacturing process and quality assurance at each stage of the manufacturing process, control of product raw materials and traceability.

Warranty and Support

During the warranty timeframe, the hoist manufacturers deliver a range of after-sales services along with appropriate spare part replacements. These services ensure the supply of genuine spare parts and provide proactive updates on design changes and reliable safe operation practices. While comprehensive warranties and technical support provide reassurance to users, it’s crucial to remember that tampering with or substituting the chain can void the warranty. Given the considerable expense of hoists, compromising on the chain to save costs could lead to significant losses in the event of issues.

Key Practices to Follow:

Even the highest quality chains can face deterioration if not handled with care. To maintain optimal performance and safety standards, it’s crucial to adhere to following the best practices:

Proper Storage: Avoid leaving chains scattered on the shop floor, as exposure to dirt, moisture, and other environmental factors can accelerate wear and tear. Store chains in designated areas away from contaminants to prolong their lifespan.

Regular Inspections: Conduct frequent inspections, especially for chains utilized in demanding applications. By identifying potential issues early, one can prevent critical failures and ensure uninterrupted operations. Integrate inspections into routine maintenance schedules to uphold chain reliability.

Avoid Overloading or Misuse: Never exceed a chain’s specified load capacity or utilize it for tasks beyond its intended purpose. Overloading or misuse significantly increases the risk of chain failure, jeopardizing safety and operational efficiency. Adhere strictly to manufacturer guidelines for optimal performance.

Remember, proper chain care is paramount, complementing the initial selection of the appropriate hoist. Establish a comprehensive chain management program encompassing storage protocols, regular inspections, and adherence to manufacturer recommendations. By prioritizing chain integrity, you uphold safety standards and optimize operational efficiency.

Additionally, hoist manufacturer-provided operation and maintenance manuals offer invaluable insights and guidelines for ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of chains. Refer to these manuals for comprehensive information tailored to your specific equipment.


This handbook has provided essential insights into the significance of hoist chains, their types, associated risks, and best practices. Emphasizing the importance of purchasing chains only from hoist manufacturers and adhering to proper maintenance, underscores the crucial role of chains in ensuring safe and efficient lifting operations. By following these guidelines, operators can enhance safety, minimize risks, and optimize the performance of hoisting equipment.

Should you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [+91 (22) 489-33303] or via email at [enquire@indef.com]. In the meantime, we invite you to explore our website to discover more about our wide range of products and offerings.