Knowing the types of material hoists available and their operations can help you choose the hoist that is right for you.

Consider a towable unit when looking for a hoist that is easy to transport and quick to set up. Usually equipped with a permanently mounted axle on the base, the units are readied for towing by lowering the material cage to the base of the tower, removing its side panels, and stowing the cage floor in a vertical position.

Although most material hoists are cable-operated by means of wire cable and sheaves, some feature a rack-and-pinion drive system. Lifting speeds are slower, but a rack-and-pinion system allows the cage to be spotted with more precision.

A popular material-hoist option is a concrete bucket. Most have a capacity of 2 cubic yards of concrete or 6,500 pounds of other flowable material. The buckets can be equipped to empty automatically or manually.

Some safety features to look for on material hoists include: upper and lower limit switches; a floor selector that automatically and accurately stops the cage at each floor or level; an overspeed device that stops the hoist immediately when any increase in speed is detected; an electric interlocking gate that prevents hoist operation while the gate is open; and brakes that set automatically if power is lost.