La crème of vacuum lifting equipment

The Australian Pipeliner sat down with Global Pipeline Equipment’s Matt Dridan to look back at GPE’s Vaclift  history, evolution, and its many distinctive features.

It all started in 2010, when Pipeline Plant Hire and Global Pipeline Equipment joined forces and the ‘great minds think alike’ motto became a reality.

“We saw the need for an outstanding vacuum lift not because we are rocket scientists, but just because of its absence from the market at the time,” Global Pipeline Equipment Manufacturer Matt Dridan said.

Global Pipeline Equipment and Pipeline Plant Hire Director Gerard O’Brien collaboration resulted in creating the VacLift, which would help revolutionise the pipeline industry.

A project including vacuum lifting in Townsville. Image supplied by Pipeline Plant Hire.

Today, both companies have built one of the largest fleets of vacuum equipment in Australia, and hired through Pipeline Plant Hire.

“We were pioneers, and we noticed there was a need for this technology thanks to the mining boom,” Dridan said.

“This really gave us the kickstart we needed and the demand for efficient vacuum lifts as well as the opportunity to build up a large fleet that supports the pipeline industry in all sorts of areas, not just oil and gas, but also water.”

Global Pipeline Equipment’s Vaclifts have aged like fine wine, adding many strings to their bow throughout the years.

Dridan said VacLift is one of the only technologies that has gained in safety while gaining in efficiency.

The machine has become a third more efficient than conventional vacuum lifts, with two distinct types of vacuum lifts that cater different needs.

“One is the integrated, which as it suggests, the vacuum lift is integrated and mounted on the rear of the excavator,” he said.

“And then there’s the attachment type we do, where someone already has their own excavator and they want a vacuum lift attached to the front of their excavator, generally for a smaller kind of job.”

The key to Global Pipeline Equipment’s Vaclift’s success is its simplicity, allied with patented ‘above the hook’ weight reduction, so delivering massive savings in both transports thereof, fuel and running costs.

Dridan said that when the machines are sent into remote areas where there is limited support and communication, they need to be easily serviceable.

Less is more when it comes to VacLift. The machine’s simple design makes it intuitive for operators to service and work with, allowing VacLift users a broad independence.

The integrated system doesn’t comprise any electronics, making it a machine of choice for remote applications among others.

“It is lightweight and works with a simple push button system and as such it isn’t affected by humidity, and is very simply serviceable in remote areas,” Dridan said.

According to Dridan, the companies have “nailed it”.

“We perfected the hydraulically driven side of the machine, as well as the integration of the vacuum on the integrated machine,” he said.

The vacuum lift in the attachment type has its own onboard computer and doesn’t have any wiring going back to the cab.

This patented system allows the operator to communicate to the machine through the excavators’ existing hydraulics.

“I know there are still pipeline companies and projects that are just using chains and slings to lift pipes, and not using vacuum lifts; this is inefficient and can be dangerous for ground crew,” Dridan said.

“People can get hurt, and that is crazy to me. That’s why a machine like the GPE Vaclift is the perfect fit as it increases both safety and efficiency for the user.”

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This article featured in the March edition of The Australian Pipeliner. 

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