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Behind the Scenes: Crank Stands

Heavy Lifting & Rigging with Crank Stands

An unfortunate reality within the event industry is that audio, video, lighting, and staging equipment is just plain heavy, and oftentimes, we have to rig this equipment multiple stories above ground-level. Whether we’re elevating a speaker system to adequately and properly cover the audience with sound or we’re raising our LED video wall to be visible from hundreds of feet away, it can quickly become difficult or even impossible to safely lift this equipment without assistance. For situations such as this, we have two primary methods to lift and rig equipment: chain motors and crank stands. Today’s post will focus on crank stand systems and the unique benefits they offer in contrast to motors.

Crank stands or crank lifts are versatile lift systems capable of safely raising and lowering various equipment using one single operator, and can lift hundreds of pounds of gear with ease. At Synergetic, we prefer the Sumner Eventer 25 Stage Lift systems, which can each raise a maximum load capacity of 650 pounds as low as a few inches or as high as twenty feet. For very large structures, we can use multiple lifts simultaneously to achieve the same results, with the total capacity multiplied by the number of units being used (of course, there’s a bit more calculating that occurs behind the scenes to ensure safety for all). Once the equipment is elevated, it can safely remain rigged for the duration of the event, even for multi-day experiences such as music festivals or collegiate homecoming celebrations.

The Sumner lifts offer portability due to their built-in wheels, and their ability to stow into a compact footprint allows us to transport several lifts in our trucks without having to rent specialized vehicles. When not in-use, minimal warehouse space is required for storage in between events, affording us valuable square footage to use for other equipment. When in-use for lifting or rigging equipment, the unit remains modest in size, and the stock black paint scheme allows the system to blend into the background, becoming virtually invisible.

In addition to providing exceptional mobility, the Sumner Eventer lift systems also offer safety, especially when considering the combined weight of the speaker and lighting arrays that we regularly construct, which routinely exceed several hundred pounds. In many situations, constructing line array PA systems or LED video walls would simply not be possible without the use of crank lifts to hold the truss above-ground while our technicians add the necessary audio, video, and lighting components.

Finally, crank stands are advantageous because of their unparalleled efficiency. Unlike chain motors that require extensive specialized training to properly and safely operate, crank stands can be deployed and utilized with minimal instruction, allowing our event technicians to begin construction of audio, video, or lighting arrays independently and immediately. These lift systems can also raise and lower equipment very quickly, allowing our technicians to complete the entire production, including setup and strike, more efficiently. Perhaps the largest benefit is their ability to fly equipment indoors or outdoors, regardless of whether there is a roof overhead or not. Since chain motors require a safe, strong, and sturdy aerial connection point that does not exist at most outdoor venues, crank lift systems are an exceptional solution when overhead rigging is necessary.

The Sumner Eventer 25 crank lift is a versatile system for theatrical and event industry equipment due to the inherent portability and compact size, while allowing us to rig gear indoors or outdoors. The exceptional efficiency of these lift systems allows for instantaneous deployment with minimal advance training, reducing the time it takes to complete setup and breakdown of the equipment, helping to reduce the cost to our clients.