For more than 20 years Pipeline Plant Hire’s VacLift equipment has been the gold standard for safety and efficiency on Australian water pipeline construction projects. Director, Gerard O’Brien, and business partner Global Pipeline Equipment’s Mat Dridan explain why.

“Australia is home to some of the driest inhabited areas on the planet, which makes access to safe and reliable water supplies vitally important, especially for remote communities,” Pipeline Plant Hire’s Director, Gerard O’Brien, said.

As existing pipelines are expanded, transportation of large volumes of water over greater distances with minimum evaporation loss plays an increasing role in supporting Australia’s future, and Pipeline Plant Hire’s expertise is in more demand than ever.

Breaking records

One example of this is the Wentworth to Broken Hill Pipeline, a project that saw Pipeline Plant Hire’s unique VacLift equipment achieve a record-breaking rate of pipe laying.

“Our vacuum pipe handling equipment creates distance between the workers and the pipe, reducing the risk of injury and dramatically improving the cycle time for each pipe movement, and that in turn enables our customers to complete their work faster without compromising on safety,” Mr O’Brien said.

How does it work?

VacLift works by using a vacuum to suck pipe lengths into the grasp of an attachment fitted with rubber seals called a ‘shoe’ that raises lengths of poly or steel pipe weighing up to 15t, without causing damage during the lifting process.

Mr Dridan said that this results in enormous time and cost savings for customers, as the VacLift cycle time is under 40 seconds per pipe length, whereas conventional methods take between five and ten minutes.

The VacLift system is available for customers to hire as a fully integrated, ready-to-use system consisting of an excavator, fitted with a VacLift unit and mounted on the counterweight of the machine – to provide maximum safe lift capacity.

“We’ve also developed a VacLift attachment that can be fitted to the customer’s own machine using auxiliary hydraulics to power and control operations,” Mr Dridan said. “Since the equipment has been designed to only lift or release the pipe lengths in a grounded position, it’s almost impossible to drop the pipe, and also safeguards any personnel involved, and protects the lifting equipment.”

Traditional methods of pipe handling put workers at risk when attaching and detaching slings and hooks, but VacLift significantly reduces the dangers involved. “Removing workers, slings and hooks from the process allows the VacLift operator to lift and, for water pipelines, lay the pipe themselves,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We’ve invested millions of dollars in making pipe handling safer and in doing so we’ve enabled tens of millions of safe pipe movements, without so much as a paper cut attributed to our equipment.”

Home to a range of innovative solutions

Pipeline Plant Hire has a wide range of equipment, providing everything from buckets, rock breakers and augers, to material adaptors, beams and shoes. “All our equipment is designed and manufactured in Australia.

Our range includes small units used to feed poly pipe, fusion welding machines lifting hundreds of kilograms each, and large units capable of lifting large diameter, high pressure steel pipe at weights that exceed 12 tonnes,” Mr Dridan said.

“With the combined development of our rear mounted vacuum lifts, patented throughput of vacuum at the rotator, expanded range in pipe diameter per shoe and many other proven technical advantages, we’ve contributed massively to efficiency gains in the pipeline industry.”

As a leading supplier of plant machinery and construction services, the company has been providing long term solutions to Tier 1 companies and civil clients for more than 30 years and is looking forward to setting the benchmark for many years to come.

“Working with manufacturers, suppliers and customers, we continue to provide improvements and innovations wherever we can, and there’s plenty more in the pipeline,” Mr O’Brien said.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Pipeline Plant Hire. For further information, please visit

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