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IC 12-2013 Front Cover.indd 1 06/12/2013 09:17:13


Central focus
A topic central in more eared by many, understood by few, Finding out
the centre of gravity (CoG) is the Lets start the exercise with a simple way
ways than one both to single most under estimated and of determining the centre of gravity.
under valued property of a load. Since This method can be applied to every
lifting and transport the vast majority of all transports and lifts object of which the CoG needs to be
comprise loads with a fairly centralised determined. Observe Figure 1, this is a
operations is centre of CoG there is not much incentive to dive two-dimensional object, for example, a
into the theories of something that cannot steel plate with a random shape, for which
gravity. CoG can be an be seen or measured with a tape. the CoG needs to be determined. This
If the CoG is not centralised, however, cannot be done in one step, but has to be
issue that makes or or the load is close to the limit of the performed in a series of separate steps.
transport or lift equipment, it becomes an
breaks a project, writes increasingly more important property that NOTE: the distances are given in metres but
can make or break the success of a project. this can be any unit of measure: feet, yards,
MARCO VAN DAAL What is the centre of gravity? In etc. For the results of the calculation this
mathematical terms, The centre of gravity makes no difference.
is the point at which an objects entire
mass can be assumed. This may sound a
FIGURE 1 bit abstract but with the below examples STEP 1
y y(pos) this will become clear. The CoG is not Choose the location of the x-axis and
x(neg) x(pos) determined by shape or size, just by the the y-axis. These can be chosen in any
weight and the location (co-ordinates) of location because the outcome will remain
y(neg) each of its individual components. the same if these axes are chosen in a
It may be clear that the centre of gravity different location. Try it.
of a square box is right in the centre of For this example in Figure 1 the
2m that box and that handling, lifting, jacking x-axis is chosen at the base of the object
or transporting it is not a complicated and the y-axis is chosen so that it runs
exercise from a mathematical point of straight down between the triangular and
x view. That changes when it comes to rectangular shapes.
2m 3m objects built up from many individual
1m items. Sooner or later everybody will
get into this situation, where it becomes STEP 2
much more challenging. Such objects can Choose which side of the x-axis is the
ABOUT THE AUTHOR be skids that contain components from positive side and which one is the negative
Marco van Daal has different suppliers or, for example, vessels side. This is necessary because a 1 metre
been in the heavy with varying diameters, oilers with a distance from the y-axis could be on either
lift and transport pressure vessel located on one side or just side and without the + or - designation
industry since a wooden crate with unknown contents there is no way of knowing this and, by
1993. He started at and a hand painted CoG mark that you definition, the outcome of the calculation
Mammoet Transport may or may not be able to trust. will be wrong.
from the Netherlands
and later with Fagioli
PSC from Italy,
both esteemed companies and leading
authorities in the industry. His 20-year FIGURE 2 FIGURE 3
plus experience extends to five continents y y
and more than 55 countries. It resulted
in a book The Art of Heavy Transport,
available at: 2.5 m
of-heavy-transport/ 3
Van Daal has a real passion for sharing 2
knowledge and experience the primary
reason for the seminars that he frequently 1
holds around the world. He lives in 2m
1.5 m
Aruba, in the Dutch Caribbean, with his x x
wife and daughters.
1.5 m 1m


IC 12 2013 The Knowledge.indd 36 06/12/2013 10:03:20


We now need to divide the object into Arrange all the numbers in order to perform the CoG calculation.
smaller sub-objects for which we can
easily determine the CoG. See Figure 2 OBJECT X- CO-ORDINATE Y- CO-ORDINATE WEIGHT/AREA
and Figure 3. There is no science behind 1 +1.0 +1.0 (3 * 3) / 2 = 4.5
choosing these smaller objects. Anything 2 -1.5 +1.5 (3 * 3) = 9
will do, as long as the total object is 3 -2.5 +2.0 (1 * 2) = 2 (**)
covered, obviously nothing should be (**) As object 3 is actually a void, the weight (area) needs to be entered as a negative value in
forgotten or left out. In this example I have the formula in Step 6.
1.) a triangle (a 3 x 3 m square cut in half)
2.) a square (3 x 3 m). Note that this box STEP 6
includes a void The formula to calculate the CoG is The CoG can be found at the
co-ordinates (-0.35, 1.13), see figure 6.
CoG = D*W
3.) a rectangle (1 x 2 m). This is the void of
the square mentioned above at 2.
W NOTE: When performing such calculation
on a more frequent basis and experience
STEP 4 In words it reads that the location is gained, some of the above steps can be
Of each of these sub-objects the CoG of the CoG can be found by summing combined to speed up the process.
should be determined and expressed () the multiplication of the distance
in co-ordinates. See figures 4 and 5. By by the weight (area) and divide it by the CoG calculations and, more important,
drawing assist lines (in red) from one summation of all the weights (areas). the reliability of
corner to the opposite one the CoG can Since this is a two-dimensional object, an accurate CoG,
be found for squares and rectangles. By this calculation should be performed in can become a very
drawing (assist) lines from one corner to x-direction as well as y-direction. For a important property.
the centre of the opposite side the CoG three-dimensional object it should also be The transport in the
can be found for triangles. This CoG is performed in the z-direction. photograph illustrates
found at the intersection of these assist this. The CoG is marked
lines. The result is as follows: In x-direction the formula can be almost at the top of the
CoG 1. (+1.0, +1.0) rewritten as white board that covers
the intake. It is above
CoGx = Dx*W
CoG 2. (-1.5, +1.5)
CoG 3. (-2.5, +2.0) the light post at the left
W of the transport.
Earlier I stated that the CoG is determined Similarly for the y-direction NOTE: Every effort is made to ensure the
by the weight and location (co-ordinates)
CoGy = Dy*W
accuracy of the contents of these articles. If
of each of the individual components. you find any mistakes, a brief notification and
Here is a hint to make the calculations W explanation would be appreciated.
easier. For two-dimensional objects, like
the one in this example, the area of the In numbers;
object is proportional with its weight.
When the area is twice as large, the weight
also doubles. CoGx = (+1,0*4.5) +(-1.5*9) + (-2.5*-2) = -4 = -0.35
For three-dimensional objects the (4.5+9-2) 11.5
volume of the object is proportional
with its weight. These hints allow you
to calculate CoG without knowing the CoGy = (+1,0*4.5) +(-1.5*9) + (+2.0*-2) = 13 = 1.13
objects weight or what it is made of. (4.5+9-2) 11.5


y y y y(pos)
x(neg) x(pos)
2.5 m
1 0.35
1.5 m 1.13
1m 1m
x x x
2m 3m
1.5 m 1m 1m


IC 12 2013 The Knowledge.indd 37 06/12/2013 10:03:35