A winch is a device that winds wire ropes and cables inwards or outwards to produce a hoisting mechanism. Winches are used on many types of machinery within the construction industry. They are also heavily used in sailing and other mechanically driven devices that require hoisting action.
The basic form of winches consists of a crank, sometimes hand-operated, that allows the operator to wind the rope.
In more advanced versions, the winch consists of a gearbox and a cylindrical rotating drum or barrel of coil rope or wire that is durable enough to hoist objects of various weights.
The wire rope or cable that is coiled inside the drum is known as the wire line. Most winch manufacturers construct winches using wire rope because of the strength and durability of that material – enabling it to lift heavy loads. The maximum load that the wire line is able to hoist is known as the winch capacity. The measurement used for the winch capacity is known as work, which is the amount of force exerted in a defined distance. The equation for this measurement is the force by distance.
Winches are used to make a variety of construction equipment functional. From their most primitive versions, cranes have utilized -- and continue to utilize -- winches to enable them to lift the heaviest of materials.
Many manufacturers produce a full line of winches for a variety of machines. Types of winches have come to include planetary hoist winches, recovery winches, utility truck winches, tractor winches, and planetary gearboxes. Most of these winches are made operational with the use of a power take-off device that attaches it to the engine or power source. Other winch types are anchor winches, cable winches, hydraulic winches, air winches, and electric winches.