Cable Reel Handling Machines and Lifters - Efficient Solutions for Material Transport

Handling heavy and bulky cable reels is a common challenge across many industries, including construction, energy, manufacturing, and more. Manually moving these large reels poses significant safety risks and is hugely inefficient. The advancements in design and technology have made this equipment safer, more versatile, and better suited to the diverse needs of different industries. Understanding the features and applications of reel handling equipment is essential for businesses seeking to optimize their material handling processes and improve overall operational efficiency.

Overview of Cable Reel Weights and Dimensions:

Before evaluating equipment options, it is prudent to understand common cable reel sizes and weights that must be accommodated. Light-duty reels may hold only 50-100 meters of slim cable weighing under 25kg. Conversely, heavy industrial reels can store up to 3000 meters of thick cable and exceed 9000kg.

Standard dimensions for larger reels generally fall in these ranges:

  • Flange Diameters: 48” to 84”
  • Traverse (Width): 24” to 48”
  • Drum Diameter: Up to 60”
So ideal handling equipment needs strength, capacity, and dimensional flexibility to safely transport and position various reel configurations across long distances or confined spaces.

Reel Trailers:

Trailers offer a versatile solution for moving reels between warehouses and worksites over roadways. Different configurations suit lighter loads or heavy-duty applications.

  • Design and Construction: Reel trailers are typically designed to transport large cable or wire reels over short or long distances. They come in various configurations, including single-axle, tandem-axle, or multi-axle setups, depending on the size and weight capacity required.
  • Loading and Unloading Mechanisms: Modern reel trailers often feature hydraulic or mechanical loading and unloading mechanisms. These systems facilitate easy and efficient reel placement onto the trailer, reducing manual labor and minimizing the risk of injuries.
  • Adjustable Reel Supports: Reel trailers are equipped with adjustable reel supports to accommodate reels of different sizes. These supports are designed to securely hold the reel in place during transportation to prevent shifting and damage.
  • Maneuverability and Stability: Reel trailers are designed for optimal maneuverability, allowing them to navigate through tight spaces within industrial facilities. Stabilizing features, such as leveling jacks, enhance the trailer's stability during loading, unloading, and transportation.

Motorized & Manual Reel Transporters:

Whereas trailers cover cross-facility transport, motorized in-plant reel movers allow swift relocation on singular sites with tight turns. These heavy-duty cart-based and forklift-based solutions thrive where agility and precision matter.

Reel Mover Carts:

  • Small footprint: These carts easily maneuver through tight spaces and turn on a dime.
  • Powerful: Tackle inclines with ease thanks to strong motors or pumps.
  • Cradle care: Integrated cradles securely hold your reels, making loading/unloading quick and easy.
  • Heavyweight champs: Move massive reels, even those over 90,000 pounds.
  • Custom moves: Program the carts to move exactly how you need them to.

  • Navigate narrow aisles: Forget bulky forklifts that get stuck.
  • Move reels fast: Quickly transport reels from production to storage.
  • Flexible alternative: Ditch inflexible conveyor systems and enjoy more freedom.
  • Less manual labor: Reduce strain on your workforce.
  • Work on any terrain: Choose from models built for flat or inclined surfaces.

Reel Lifters:

Reel lifters are specialized equipment designed for lifting and moving heavy cable or wire reels.

Core Reel Lifter Types:

  • Reel Rotators – Rotate reels left or right on a fixed vertical axis for cable access from varying sides.
  • Reel Turners – Designed to tip reels onto their front flanges for pulling cable from the top rather than just the bottom wrap.
  • Reel Lifts – Use hydraulic lift mechanisms to precisely raise or lower reels into the needed working height alignment.
  • Reel Jacks – Reel jacks are mechanical devices that lift and support cable reels. They are designed with rugged use in mind and can handle heavy-duty applications. Some reel jacks are equipped with adjustable shaft saddles, allowing them to accommodate different reel sizes.

Key Reel Lifter Features:

  • Versatility in Lifting Capacities: They come in various configurations to accommodate different weight capacities, ranging from smaller handheld models to larger industrial-scale lifters.
  • Hydraulic Lifting Mechanism: Most reel lifters utilize hydraulic systems for lifting and lowering reels. This ensures precise control and minimizes the risk of sudden movements, enhancing safety during the handling process.
  • 360-Degree Rotation: Advanced reel lifters often feature a 360-degree rotation capability, allowing operators to position the reel precisely. This feature is particularly beneficial when dealing with confined spaces or when aligning the reel with other equipment.
  • Integrated Safety Features: Reel lifters are equipped with safety features such as emergency stop buttons, overload protection, and secure locking mechanisms to prevent accidents and ensure the well-being of operators.
  • Forklift operable models for portable flexibility
  • Weatherproofing for outdoor durability

Other Reel Handling Machines Include:

  • Reel Lift Trucks: Reel lift trucks, also known as reel trucks or reel stackers, are vehicles equipped with lifting mechanisms specifically designed for handling cable reels. These trucks are used to lift, transport, and stack cable reels in various industrial settings. They come in different sizes and capacities to accommodate different reel sizes and weights.
  • Reel Manipulators: Reel manipulators are devices used to manipulate cable reels, allowing for easy loading, unloading, and positioning. They can be powered or manual and are available in various configurations to suit different reel handling needs. Reel manipulators are commonly used in industries that require frequent reel handling, such as telecommunications and utilities.
  • Reel Lift Attachments: Some forklift attachments, such as the SpoolMaster, are designed to lift and store cable reels. These attachments can be used in addition to other reel-handling equipment to enhance efficiency and productivity in material handling tasks.
  • Roll Handlers: Roll handlers are reel-handling equipment used to manipulate and transport rolls of material, such as paper, fabric, or film. They are available in both powered and manual versions, with various attachments and capacities. Roll handlers are commonly used in industries that deal with large rolls of material, such as printing, packaging, and textiles.


  • Telecommunications Industry: Reel trailers and lifters are extensively used to install and maintain fiber optic cables and communication wires.
  • Power Distribution: These handling equipment find applications in power distribution projects, where large cable reels are transported and installed for electrical infrastructure.
  • Construction Sites: Reel trailers and lifters are employed in construction sites for handling and transporting cables used in various construction projects.
  • Industrial Manufacturing: Industries involved in cable and wire manufacturing use reel-handling equipment for internal material handling and logistics.

Why Invest in Reel Lifters?

  • Alternative to risky crane/chain manual handling - Moving heavy reels with chains or makeshift equipment carries tremendous injury risks from falls, crush points, and muscular strains. Purpose-built reel lifters are engineered for safety.
  • Effortless reel flipping for access to unused cable sections - Reel turner models enable a single operator to safely rotate reels for pulling the cable off different wrap layers, avoiding manual turnover.
  • Dial-in precise reel-to-equipment alignment - Precision alignment features allow perfect dialing-in reel positioning relative to machinery equipment feeds, avoiding dangerous misalignments.
  • Position reels at ergonomic heights for operators - Lifting/lowering capabilities on certain reel movers simplify getting reels to comfortable working heights for pulling cable, reducing back strain.
  • Simple integration with existing cranes/hoists - Many lifters are designed for easy overhead crane loading, then take over reel manipulation. This avoids full reel weight being solely on the crane.

The gained efficiency, versatility, and protection of both workers and materials make reel lifters a wise investment for any operation moving and staging sizable cable reels routinely. Proper reel trailers, transporters, and lifters engineered for real-world demands can streamline material flows massively while preventing injury. Consult Reel Power experts to configure the optimum reel handling solution matching your operational requirements. The productivity and safety dividends quickly justify equipment costs for cable-centric operations.

Here is a summary on reel handling equipment:

  • It's important to note that there are various manufacturers and suppliers of reel and cable handling equipment, offering a wide range of products to meet different industry needs.
  • A key piece of equipment is the reel lifter, which is a device used to lift, turn, transport, and stack reels of material such as wire and cable efficiently, quickly, and easily.
  • The reel lifter operates using a hydraulic lift, which can be configured to lift and turn the reel in either direction, allowing it to be transported and stacked.
  • Reel lifters can handle wire, cable, paper, plastic, and more reels.
  • They also incorporate important safety features like a safety guard to prevent the reel from tipping and an emergency shutdown system.
  • Using a reel lifter for reel handling can help streamline operations, reducing handling and storage costs, as well as allowing for much faster transport and stacking of reels than manual means. With their versatility and safety features, reel lifters are an important equipment option for efficient reel and cable handling across various industries.
  • Consult the experts at Reel Power to leverage their expertise and ensure the most effective implementation for your specific needs.