The long-standing issue regarding the use of 3-pin, 110V, 16A yellow CEE-form control connectors fitted to CM Lodestar chain hoists has finally been resolved.

After September 1, 2002, both PCM and TOMCAT UK will be supplying all Columbus McKinnon Lodestar hoists with 4-pin, 110V, 16A yellow CEE-form connectors instead of the current 3-pin version.

Both companies will be contacting all of their Lodestar customers shortly to discuss this change and its repercussions.

The issue dates back two and a half years, when it became apparent that the continued use of the 3-pin connector for Lodestar hoists would not be possible. Although the connector was extremely well suited to the application in many areas, for safety reasons, it was felt that the use of the earth pin as a conductor should preclude its future use.

This resulted in extensive discussions involving hoist manufacturer Columbus McKinnon, PCM, Pfaff Stage Technology & TOMCAT UK on the suitability of the connectors and possible replacements. The discussions were supported by the Production Services Association (PSA) and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), with input from PLASA and other relevant organizations.

The suggested solution is to use a 4-pin, 110V, 16A yellow CEE-form connector - already widely in use for the same application in mainland Europe.

The HSE has noted that although both EN 60204-1 & EN 60204-32 preclude the use of EN 60309-2 CEE-form plug & socket connectors in control applications (as they are mains connectors), there may be justifiable reasons for using such connectors providing that the earth pin is not used for any purpose other than as a protective conductor.

The technical reasons for such selection should be contained in a technical file, and the deviations from the standard stated in the Certificate of Conformity supplied with the Lodestar product.

Both PLASA & the PSA agree with this statement from the HSE.

Although some changes will obviously be necessary, the 4-pin connectors will be readily available from all the usual entertainment industry suppliers, many of which have also been involved in the discussions.

The 4-pin connector will also be cost-effective.

Although all new hoists will be supplied with the 4-pin version, the continued use of existing units fitted with the 3-pin connector may be appropriate when supported by a risk assessment.

The PSA is producing a generic document, available for download from their website www.psa.org.uk to help users with this task. For obvious reasons, it’s recommended to change over all hoists to the 4-pin connector as soon as is convenient.

For further info, contact PCM, TOMCAT UK or your regular supplier of Columbus McKinnon Lodestar Chain Hoists.

Both PCM & TOMCAT UK would like to thank all the contributors who’ve given their time & opinions so generously to the debate. Extra special thanks to Roger Barrett (Star Hire & the PSA) for his help, yet again, in representing the industry.

For further information, please contact either: John Jones at PCM, phone: +44 (0)151 609 0101, fax: +44 (0)151 609 0200, e-mail: jay@askpcm.com

Or Adrian Forbes-Black at TOMCAT UK, phone: +44 (0)151 482 3100, fax: +44 (0)151 482 3111, e-mail: ablack@tomcatuk.com