What is vacuum handling?

Vacuum handling is a unique lifting method. Lift, rotate, turn, and move a product without damage. The lifting capacity of a vacuum lifter can vary from 80 kg to as much as 80 tonnes, and even more! The possibilities of vacuum handling are practically endless.

How does vacuum lifting technology work?

The principle of vacuum lifting technology is simple. A suction pad is placed on a product and with a vacuum pump, the air is sucked out. This creates a vacuum in the space between the suction pad and the product. As a result, the pressure under the suction pad is lower than the outside pressure. Pushing the suction pad and the product firmly together. Enabling the possibility to lift products up to tens of tons!

The Magdeburg hemispheres experiment

The power of vacuum was first proven in 1654 by Otto von Guericke, the then Mayor of the German city of Magdeburg. He performed the famous experiment which is now known as the ‘Magdeburg hemispheres experiment’. Otto von Guericke designed the Magdeburg hemispheres to demonstrate the air pump he had invented and the concept of atmospheric pressure. The hemispheres are still used in education to illustrate the strength of air pressure.

The Magdeburg hemisphere experiment consisted of two large copper hemispheres with a diameter of approximately 50cm (20 inches) and the vacuum pump Otto von Guericke invented. One hemisphere was through a tube connection attached to the vacuum pump. The two hemispheres were held together and sealed with grease, after which the air was sucked out of the sphere, creating a vacuum on the inside. Even with on both sides fifteen horses in harness pulling the globe in opposite directions, it appeared impossible to separate the two halves. Now we know the force which needed to be countered was 20,000 N. The equivalent of a mass of 2 tons! Now you see why even 30 horses in total weren’t enough to separate the spheres.

All Aerolift vacuum lifting solutions are designed on the principle of the Magdeburg hemispheres. A suction pad of one square meter easily lifts products up to 4 tons!

Applications for vacuum handling

Vacuum handling knows many applications. Aerolift specialises in vacuum lifting technology with a high vacuum. The vacuum lifter is provided with a vacuum pump and designed to hold the vacuum even in the situation of a power failure. Any product with an airtight product is lifted efficient and safe. The Aerolift vacuum lifters are used to handle precast concrete elements, tunnelling segments, metal plates, pipelines, paper reels, and wind energy.

Vacuum handling vs other lifting methods

Compared to other lifting methods, vacuum handling offers unique advantages. Resulting in more efficiency and safety.

Easy and fast

  • Attachment and detachment in two seconds

Reduced production costs

  • Increased productivity
  • Lower investment in technology, labour, and energy
  • No damage to the product


  • Double safety factor
  • Extra safety provision in the event of a power failure
  • Reduced accident risk

Efficient lifting with vacuum

A vacuum lifter is a one-time investment. However, due to the high efficiency, the return on investment is achieved quickly. The complete handling operation is done by one person. Attaching, detaching, turning, and moving are done with a push of a button. Moreover, vacuum handling offers unique extra advantages for different industries. For example, for precast concrete elements, a vacuum lifter is not only used to lift and turn but also to demould. Curious about the advantages in your industry? Take a look at our industry pages.

With vacuum handling, you choose safety

Vacuum handling is in many situations a safer technology than conventional lifting systems. Attachment and detachment are done from a safe distance from the product. Reducing the risk to life and limb. And unlike conventional techniques using slings, chains, and hooks, an Aerolift vacuum lifter continuously monitors the safety status. Warning the operator if the vacuum level drops below 80% or if a power failure occurs. Moreover, the operator is able to read the vacuum value at all times. All Aerolift vacuum lifters are engineered and built to ensure that in the event of a technical failure the product stays attached safely for at least 20 minutes. Leaving sufficient time to take corrective measures and lower the product safely to floor level.

More about safe lifting by vacuum

5 sound reasons to opt for an Aerolift vacuum lifter

Aerolift has a worldwide reputation to design outstanding and high-quality (vacuum) lifting solutions for a wide range of industries. A reputation, built on a wealth of experience, knowledge of many different industries, and the strength of innovative developments are reflected in custom-made lifting solutions which perfectly fit each specific situation. The developments make our products unique in the lifting industry:

  • All our vacuum lifters are provided with Aerolift vacuum valves. The Aerolift valve requires a positive signal to change the status to ensure safe lifting even if a power failure occurs. We are the only supplier of vacuum lifters that guarantees their vacuum valves for at least 400.000 moves before the valve needs to be overhauled.
  • The Aerolift vacuum hoses are steel reinforced to be resistant against considerable forces.
  • The Aerolift vacuum lifters are designed to be less susceptible to temperature. And in the situation of extreme temperatures, we also offer several lifting solutions.
  • When it comes to extreme temperatures, we are able to take this into account in the design. For example, at extremely low temperatures, we provide the lifter with heating elements on essential components such as valves, pumps, and cabinets.
  • The exclusive Aerolift rubber is specially designed to be the perfect seal during lifting operations. This rubber performs reliably in a temperature range of -40 °C to +50 °C. For operations under higher temperatures, we use a rubber quality that holds its integrity in temperatures up to 220 °C. Moreover, a rubber quality that performs in even higher temperatures is currently under development.
  • If desired, or necessary due to the working environment, Aerolift is able to design vacuum lifters with multiple vacuum systems integrated to create safety on safety.

Want to know more about Aerolift vacuum handling?

For more information on vacuum handling and the possibilities, please contact our team of experts. We are happy to discuss your specific situation. Based on our highly advanced product knowledge, we are able to offer suitable lifting solutions for any industry. Aerolift has its own engineering department and production organisation. With the entire process in our own hands, we’re able to respond suitably to the most complex demands. All our vacuum lifters comply at a minimum with NEN-EN 13155 industry standards or in accordance with SGS, ABS, Lloyds TŰV, and others your preferred regulations. Feel free to contact us with further questions on vacuum lifting technology.