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What is a Rigger?

The traditional definition of a rigger is a person that uses hoists and pulleys. The industry extends the term, however, to define anyone engaged in the lifting, moving and transporting, positioning, pulling and securing of heavy equipment, machines and oversized loads.

A rigger moves loads varying in size, weight and shape such as manufacturing machines in factories, X-ray machines in hospitals, and storage silos on farms.

A rigger uses cranes, overhead lifting gear, pulleys, load moving dollies, hydraulic jacks, and flat bed trucks.

A rigger is primarily found in industrial and commercial industries such as in oil, gas, mining, ship building, construction, manufacturing, power and telecommunication, hospitals, etc..

Rigging is the work a rigger performs.

Many riggers also provide mechanical, electrical, plumbing and general repair, installation and maintenance services in addition to moving machinery.

A millwright is a rigger in a mill.

The Rigging Industry:

When trying to classify the heavy load moving industry it is best if we break it down into 3 major service providers; The Load Movers, the Trucking Companies, and the Crane Companies.

1. The Load Movers (The hands on guys on the ground)

These load movers are divided into Machinery Movers & Erectors, Millwrights, and Riggers. However, most of these companies are actually engaged first in other lines of business and offer load moving services only as a secondary income source. So you will find many machine shops, building contractors or machine repair and sales companies also registered as load moving companies.

Riggers can have very extensive background and many have worked in different fields ranging from Mining, Oil, Manufacturing, Steel, Construction, and many more. Riggers are considered the hands on people who do the calculating, staging, lifting, and initial movement of the load. Being a Rigger involves several aspects of calculation and precision placement of load moving equipment. Most of the time that a Rigger is involved in a move is due to the heavy load weight of an object.

The weight Riggers move can vary from a 1,200lbs boiler to the 210ft, 4,830 ton Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Many times a rigger will call in a trucking company for the long haul of a large load. And at this point the torch is passed to the sometimes unsung heroes of the industry “The Truckers”.

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2. Trucking (The point A to point B guys)

When thinking about the large size and massive weight that some loads weigh, it is hard to imagine driving down the road with a house on the bed of the truck. The Truckers of the Rigging Industry are brought in for long haul or specialty load moving situations. These guys get the loads from point A to point B.

Often times Trucking companies can run into many different obstacles when moving heavy loads. A company has to take into consideration road size, traffic, overhead clearance of bridges and over passes, turning radius, and those ever so pesky zoning regulations. Rigging loads can range from transportation of a new lathe or press to the 12-mile crawl of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Once on location the next and final phase happens with the unloading of the load. This is where the Crane Operator often makes it look too easy.

3. Crane Companies (The guys who pick things up and put things down)

Crane rentals and Crane operators are vital for the operation and successful completion of rigging jobs. Crane operators are the reason riggers are able to get a large load on to the back of a truck and complete the travel aspect of the job. Cranes can range from smaller 1 ton Gantry Cranes to the 1,500 ton Kockums Crane.

Cranes are most commonly used in the shipping and construction field. Riggers have begun to utilize the cranes efficiency when overhead clearance isn’t a problem. Riggers often use cranes to make rigging loads more efficient and in many cases safer as well. Over the years there have been many improvements to the regulations and safety due to groups such as Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals (ACRP), Crane Certification Association of America (CCAA), Crane Institute Certification (CIC), Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), and many more.

So when we try to define what the rigging industry is, we realize it can have a multitude of meanings and applications. The 3 main components of the industry must work very close with each other to make the magic happen. The harmonious actions that happen before your eyes are compiled of team work and years of dedication, practice, and safety passed on by generation after generation. So the next time you see something large being moved just remember the unsung heroes of the move, the Riggers.

SIC Codes

Find below the SIC (Standard Industry Codes) codes covering the Rigging industry:

  • 179604 – Machinery Movers & Erectors
  • 179606 - Millwrights
  • 138914 - Riggers
  • 421207 - Vault and Safe Movers
  • 421313 - House movers
  • 421216 – Movers Heavy Hauling
  • 421307 – Trucking Heavy Hauling
  • 421320 – Trucking – Oversized Load
  • 421301 - Trailers Transporting
  • 735301 – Crane Svc
  • 735304 – Crane Renting