Features, Innovation, Work health and safety

Versatile lifting solutions


A broad and adaptable range of solutions from Vacuworx is making pipe handling safer and more efficient.   

As one of  world’s leading suppliers of material handling systems, Vacuworx has spent decades engineering and manufacturing heavy-duty lifting equipment for use in the mining, oil and gas, heavy construction industries, and many others. 

Recent decades have seen vacuum lifting become recognised as the perhaps safest approach to pipe handling, thanks to its ability to reduce risk to workers and improve efficiencies for companies. This method has been widely adopted and evolved alongside the use of corrosion-resistant bonded pipeline coatings commonly used to protect products. 

Vacuum lifting technology doesn’t damage materials or bonded coatings and eliminates the need for cribbing and spacers for pipes. 

Utilising Vacuworx lifting systems can eliminate costly repairs that occur when handling pipe by other methods such as slings or chains.

With operations spanning the world, Vacuworx has a truly global reach. The company offers a comprehensive and diverse range of vacuum lifting systems and equipment. These systems are designed to tackle a wide range of tasks and applications across manufacturing, construction, and infrastructure projects.

Minimising downtime and improving safety

Compared to conventional lifting methods, Vacuworx said the advantages of its suite of qualified lifting systems include safety, speed, and flexibility while adapting to customer needs. 

“With Vacuworx, efficiencies are maximised, while the amount of direct contact workers have with materials like pipes, concrete and steel plates is limited,” the company said.

Currently engaged in two consecutive projects involving water transmission at a coal mine in Moranbah, Queensland, Pipeline Assets Australia managing director Dale Stephan is no stranger to Vacuworx lifters and the benefits they offer to owners and operators.

“Vacuum lifting has been a game-changer for us,” Stephan said.

“The Vacuworx system has again proven to be a positive addition to our projects. Once personnel were trained, its effectiveness matches, if not exceeds, that of traditional pipe handling methods, but at a lower cost with safer working conditions.” 

Water infrastructure is indispensable within a mine, serving vital functions from extraction to processing. Timely and efficient execution of pipeline infrastructure works is crucial to meet the demanding needs of mining operations, minimise downtime, and optimise resource utilisation.

Pipeline Assets Australia’s project in Moranbah includes the installation of a backbone pipeline to streamline water transportation within the mine, supporting dewatering activities and improving water infrastructure.

“From our perspective, the efficiencies gained through Vacuworx are undeniable, and we foresee its continued use in our operations,” Stephan said. 

“Our clients are happy from a safety perspective and, for us, it improves our operations.

“The [Vacuworx] equipment can be interchanged rapidly, which is crucial in our fluid environment where timing and transportation hiccups are common in the industry.

“Delays in truck arrivals can result in significant costs, with personnel waiting on standby and intervals between deliveries causing disruptions. However, with Vacuworx we are able to ensure that when the trucks arrive we can get to work straight away. 

“On this project, we’re installing 18km of large-bore HDPE [high-density polyethylene] pipe, which is a significant undertaking, so every minute counts.”

Benefits of vacuum lifting

According to Vacuworx, vacuum lifting allows for faster load and unload cycles with less downtime than conventional methods since there are no slings and chains to hook and unhook. 

In addition, the need for fewer ground workers helps to reduce the risk of accidents. 

Vacuworx’s adaptability in the field and its ability to eliminate the need for personnel in high-risk areas, such as riggers and crane operators in drop zones, are significant driving factors its adoption. Its use also reduces safety risks associated with personnel on the ground during operations.

Vacuworx Australia managing director Luis Guevara underscored the importance of prioritising safety in material handling.

“Our customers secure contracts based on their lifting methodologies utilising our machines simply because it’s so much safer and faster,” he said.

“It requires less personnel to load, unload or string pipe without having to climb on pipes and trucks and stand under the pipe, and there is no damage to the pipe coating. 

“Owners and contractors are looking for safer and more efficient material handling solutions in all industries. The main focus of Vacuworx has always been to prioritise people’s safety by offering a safer way to handle and move materials. 

“Utilising the Vacuworx line of equipment provides the operator with the confidence of knowing that they are using the latest technology to provide a safe work environment for themselves as well as their co-workers.”

While Vacuworx’s expertise began with pipes, the company now takes pride in serving a diverse range of industries. Lifters can be attached to excavators, wheel or track loaders, cranes, pipe-layers and forklifts, and can be customised to accommodate a variety of applications and lifting needs.

Vacuworx’s commitment to quality and innovation has earned the company its reputation as a global leader in vacuum lifting equipment. 

This feature also appears in the May-June issue of Safe to Work.

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