Built From Scratch: The Caldwell Group works with customers to develop safe, durable and efficient lifting solutions, says DOUG STITT, president and CEO


Q: What are some new developments in metals-specific lifting and handling?

A: Caldwell manufactures lifting equipment for the metals industry—for the companies that produce metals as well as service centers. About half of what we produce for metals would be considered a standarddesign product, and the other 50 percent is considered modified standards or customs. We see a continued trend toward larger-capacity units to lift larger loads. Integrated scales and their accuracy continue to be important as operations automate. Largely based on the environments they operate in, metals companies are looking for vendors that will stand behind their equipment. Caldwell, for example, offers a two-year warranty versus the industry standard one year and provides a variety of service functions in the field. As always, operational safety remains a top priority.

Q: How do technological advancements in lifting equipment contribute to shop-floor safety?

A: Operational capabilities and automation keep users/operators safely out of, and away from, the lift zone—allowing the lifter to lift, move, rotate, upend and weigh the load. Switches, sensors and lights allow users to understand when the load is engaged, rotating, etc., to better understand from a distance what is happening. Lifter lockouts and programming provide intelligence so the lifters can tell when loads aren’t fully and safely engaged or if an operator is trying to release the item being lifted under load. Of course, proper maintenance of the lifter is important to ensure these machines are working as intended.

Q: Has Caldwell made any adjustments to its product line or service in response to customer demands?

A: The heavier loads and frequent cycles inherent within the metals industry create a challenging environment. Caldwell listens and responds to customers in an effort to improve the safety, durability and operational efficiency of our lifters. Our sales engineers and designers typically spend a lot of time with the customer to understand the specific application and challenges. For instance, we know that a customer in a plate-lifting application that has fairly neatly stacked plates is going to need one kind of sheet lifted versus another customer who wants help to stack the plates. There’s generally some level of tailoring or adjusting the lifter to make sure it meets and exceeds the users’ expectations.

Q: Please describe some interesting or challenging projects that Caldwell has worked on lately?

A: I am always impressed with what happens when our engineering team and our customers put their heads together and create something that has never existed before. We just completed building a hightemperature sheet lifter requiring a heat shield due to the extreme temperatures where the equipment is operating. Another personal favorite application is the transport carriage we created for Intuitive Machines’ mission to the moon, launched in February 2024. Our whole team was so proud to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime project. We’ve built a drone-powered lifter for the U.S. armed services, a fossil flipper for a live lab in a museum’s dinosaur exhibit, a transport carriage for a particle accelerator and so much more. Right now, our Dura-Mod beam is part of a load-stabilizing lifting system produced by Vita Inclinata.

Q: How does Caldwell help customers choose the right solution for their operations?

A: More than 50 percent of the equipment that leaves our shipping dock is customized in some way. Sometimes it’s a simple change, like adding a hole on a lifting beam or cutting a bolt to a specific length for a lifting point. But much of it is a full-on, build-from-scratch, design-on-the-backof-a-napkin kind of thing. The process can start in a number of ways. Sometimes customers know what they need and have a drawing in mind already. Other times, they are starting with a situation: “I need to get this material from here to there.”  We have a team of technical sales reps who begin the process. A series of questions helps us to collect the information we need to begin the design work. If the problem we’re trying to solve doesn’t look like anything we’ve done before, we call in our engineers and get to work. Complicated or completely new projects might require extensive backand-forth with the end user’s team. Simpler projects might not. Our team does amazing work.

Caldwell Lifting Solutions, 800/628-4263, caldwellinc.com