FAQ - Vacuum technology - Frequently asked questions

ACIMEX is specialized in vacuum handling. Our company is the leader in industrial handling of heavy loads; we design vacuum lifting systems for gripping large capacity parts whether they are made of PVC, steel or concrete. Find all the questions relating to our profession and to our products.

1/ What are vacuum lifting devices used for?

Vacuum lifting devices are used to grip large capacity parts, whether they are made of PVC, steel or concrete. Quick and safe vacuum lifting is possible, using a system of suction cups that can support both heavy loads and fragile materials. These vacuum lifting devices are particularly useful in the construction of tunnels and energy networks.

2/ For which sectors of activity?

Vacuum lifting devices are used to move and handle heavy loads or voluminous materials, in various sectors of activity such as civil engineering and operations related to very large scale public works. ACIMEX also works in the metallurgy, aircraft and energy sectors.

3/ How does ACIMEX manage special requirements?

The ACIMEX design office, comprising engineers and project managers, studies and designs your handling project individually and specifically for your requirements. Whether your project is in the field of metallurgy or civil engineering or if it is a major international construction project, our teams consider your specifications and propose you the most suitable solution for your lifting equipment.

4/ What are the different lifting systems designed by ACIMEX?

ACIMEX offers a complete range of handling equipment to adapt to all your needs, and to all sectors of activity. Lifting beams, hydraulic and mechanical clamps, turning lifters, demoulding/tilting lifters, segment trolleys and erectors and accessories for power shovels are a few of the types of equipment that we propose for you.

5/ What is the best way to move a heavy load?

The technique of vacuum handling is to create a vacuum by eliminating atmospheric pressure in the space between the suction cup and the product. Eliminating this atmospheric pressure creates a suction force capable of lifting 10 tonnes for 1 m2 of area covered by the suction cup. Thanks to this physical phenomenon, handling by suction cup allows you to carry out handling operations on large objects or ones that are complex to handle without effort, quickly and safely.

6/ What is the maximum weight that can be lifted with a suction cup?

The lifting devices proposed by ACIMEX are customized products. In concrete terms, it is the area covered by the suction cup (and therefore the vacuum capacity between the suction cup and the object to be lifted) that determines the maximum weight that it will be possible to lift. The larger this area, the higher the weight that it will be possible to lift; in theory, therefore, there is no "maximum weight". However, here are the products that ACIMEX offers the most commonly: - tube lifter: up to 30 tonnes; - concrete lifter: up to 40 tonnes; - metallurgy: up to 30 tonnes; - aircraft industry: up to 5 tonnes;

7/ What are the main benefits of ACIMEX lifting appliances?

The lifting devices proposed by ACIMEX have 4 major assets. - clamping speed; in just a few seconds; - safety, thanks to continuous monitoring of the vacuum level. The vacuum is supplied by a reserve source that works even in the event of a fault; - financial savings, by increased productivity and reduced workforce requirements on work sites; - ease of implementation because the handling is done from the top; this facilitates the handling of the load and makes it more precise.

8/ Can we raise a load of which the surface is dirty?

The degree of cleanliness of the surface to be lifted is not an obstacle to handling by suction cup. However, to ensure maximum safety, we have designed lifting systems capable of efficiently satisfying the most specific requirements: - “anti-oil” suction cups, to adhere to greasy and/or oily surfaces; - silicone suction cups , to suit hot surfaces up to 320°C.

9/ What are the main obstacles to vacuum handling?

There is only one obstacle to vacuum handling: the surface of the object to be lifted must be smooth, even (free of hollows and bumps) and not porous. The suction cup and the load must both provide an air seal; this is the prerequisite for generating a vacuum. Nevertheless, our customers are perfectly aware of this constraint and are capable of handling suitable objects with suction cup lifters, in complete confidence.

10/ What are the differences between handling by suction cup and other more traditional means of lifting?

The vacuum lifting beam has many advantages compared to other means of lifting such as slings, magnets or mechanical clamps. The suction cup only requires a quarter of a second to be placed and securely attached on the load, a time that is much faster than for traditional means of lifting. A vacuum lifting beam also allows greater precision in the selection of elements to be lifted compared with a magnet, which is, moreover, useless for lifting stainless steel or aluminium objects. The vacuum lifting beam also has the advantage of not leaving any marking, or deformation on the part being handled. Finally, suction cup handling only requires the intervention of one person, thereby reducing the risks of an accident while optimizing your performance.

11/ Are there any safety systems on the beam?

We have developed a wide range of vacuum lifting beams. They are suitable for all your needs and enable you to lift and handle loads weighing up to 40 tonnes, while guaranteeing you maximum safety. Our beams are equipped with suction cups fitted with external and internal lips for gripping in absolute safety, even if the outer lip is damaged. The vacuum level is continuously monitored in order to detect any leaks, thus indicating to you the time at which the load must put down. In addition, our lifters for the aviation industry, designed for handling parts with complex shapes, are equipped with duplicated and redundant circuits for greater reliability.

12/ Do suction cups leave marks on the products lifted?

The suction cups of our beams are designed using special rubber that guarantees you that no marks or traces are left on the surface of the object lifted; even with the most sensitive materials.

13/ Is the product maintained by the suction cup if there is a power cut?

Our vacuum handling systems are designed to guarantee maximum safety, even in the event of a power cut. In the event of failure of the power supply, the load continues to be held for more than 30 minutes.

14 / What are the possible energy sources for operating a suction cup lifting beam?

A source of energy is necessary for suction cup handling. It is possible to use single-phase or three-phase electricity; the working power will depend on the load you need to lift: the higher the load, the more the power increases. It is also possible to use a 24VDC battery to operate the suction cups, with recharging on the mains during down time. However, other energy alternatives exist for operating ACIMEX lifters. For example, it is possible to operate the machines using an internal combustion (diesel or petrol) engine or a hydraulic source.

15 / Where are ACIMEX machines produced, and what is the average time for design and manufacturing?

ACIMEX vacuum handling machines are designed on two manufacturing sites, located in China and France. Each of these sites respects very precise specifications, with regular inspections, to satisfy the safety standards in force in France. It takes from 8 to 12 weeks to produce a machine, depending on the complexity of the project. This period may extend to 16 or even 18 weeks for appliances in the special machines range.

16 / Is it possible to buy spare parts for machines not made by ACIMEX?

No. This is a safety measure for your installation and for the people using it. If we have not manufactured the machine, we do not wish to intervene and supply safety parts to be grafted on an appliance we do not know. There is always a risk of incompatibility that could result in an accident. We engage our responsibility for a complete unit that we know; this is the case with ACIMEX machines.

17 / What is the average time for the supply of ACIMEX spare parts?

The lead time for the supply of common spare parts is 10 days from door to door.