Kramer Tree Specialists and our Evolution of Rigging Practices
Kramer Tree Specialists has been performing arboriculture services in the Chicagoland area for more than 45 years. Over that time, we have continually evolved and advanced in our skills, techniques, and work practices. The constant evolution of technology, work practices, and training in the industry continually improves the professionalism, safety, and efficiency of arboriculture services.
At the onset of when our company began, there weren’t many tools or equipment when it came to tree removals and rigging. The tools that we were using were quite simple. We used rope and chain saws, that was all we had and that was out there. We would place a rigging rope in a branch union and that would be the anchor. To control the load we would add friction by wrapping the rope around to trunk. This was as basic as it gets.
In the summer of 1989, we and the arboriculture industry were introduced to a few new tools that significantly changed rigging and how tree removals were performed. We purchased and began utilizing the arborist block and Hopps Lowering Device for rigging and tree removals. They would be utilized in conjunction with one another and brought us improved safety, efficiency, and new capabilities to our tree removal services.
An arborist block is a heavy-duty pulley manufactured for the arborist industry and rigging operations. It is called a block because it has fixed cheek plates unlike an actual pully, plus it attaches to the tree with a sling that is directly attached to the block so no need for a connecting link. This really changed how we worked because now you can have an anchor any place you would like. This improved safety in rigging operations because you could now pick anchors over the loads reducing the amount of movement of the load. Another advantage was the rope is running over a moving sheave. This meant that the friction was always the same. By using a natural union, the friction varied from tree to tree. This made understanding how much friction is needed to control the load difficult while also making the learning curve much longer.
The Hopps device attaches to the base of the tree trunk to control the friction. It has an aluminum ratcheting bollard to control the friction. The bollard is a large round cylinder that you simply wrap the rope around, the larger the load the more wraps. This made our rigging process much simpler as the outcome was always consistent. The bollard has a ratcheting feature, meaning it only spins in one direction. This allowed you to easily create a mechanical advantage by using a long bar that you could place in the bollard to lift loads into the arborist block. We did not have that ability with just using rope and branch unions.
The Hopps Lowering Device in conjunction with an arborist block was innovative to our work and the industry. It allowed us to perform our work safely and more efficiently while providing a better product for our clients. The Hopps Lowering Device has gone through multiple versions since it came out and is still available for purchase today. We now utilize a different device in place of Hopps, but that is for a future article on our rigging evolution.
The evolution of rigging equipment in the arboriculture industry has continued since the Hopps device and arborist blocks. Much more equipment and techniques have since emerged. We will continue to discuss this evolution and how we have utilized it to grow as a company and professionals within the industry. Future posts will dive into rigging forces and the benefits of understanding and utilizing them in a variety of situations. We will also talk about measuring rigging forces, the evolution of new lowering devices, and the diverse line of arborist ropes explaining the differences amongst them and how those are utilized.