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Straps and clamps are out and vacuum lifting equipment is the new thing. If you are looking to improve construction efficiency, safety, and ease of use and installation, all while making things easier on yourself and your workers, then we need to talk about the use of vacuum lift systems in your business.
There is no doubt that the majority of you are likely experiencing a shortage of labor. This could just mean a lack of man or woman power to carryout every day activities in your business or just being able to find good employees that will stay on season-to-season that you can train to run a crew. Regardless, with this shortage there is really one solution. That is equipment.
Purchasing the right equipment will replace an employee for you. It can also show current employees that you are willing to invest in your business and them which will in turn help retain them for future seasons. If you are a one man or one crew operation, than equipment is just as important to improve your efficiency.
This is where these new vacuum lifting machines are here for you to save your back and help speed things up on your job site.
Why Invest in Vacuum Lifting Equipment
There are a few really good reasons why you should be considering investing in vacuum lifting equipment in your business. From addressing the labor shortage and retaining employees to creating a better standard and quality of work on your job sites, these tools are going to help you expand your business.
Safety and Health
Efficiency and Quality
For companies that want to invest into themselves and their workers, vacuum lift equipment is what you should be investing in. This equipment will help you lift heavier objects easier without breaking your back or pinching your fingers when you lay pavers and larger slabs. It also removes the need for chains and straps and is a more safe alternative on job sites when installing larger materials.
These vacuum lift systems will help your business increase efficiency on the job site by making it easier to lay pavers without needing to get up and down, while also saving yourself from fatigue. The larger the material, the more efficient you will become as these systems will make installing walls, slabs, steps, and natural stone a breeze.
Not to mention the improvement of quality of your work. With no clamps or forks in the way, these vacuum lifts will make it easier to drop and pick up a product in order to get it into the perfect position. Whether you are placing steps or placing large pieces of flagstone and getting the right cut, these vacuum lift systems are going to make your quality of work stand out further from the rest.
We post a lot of different ways in which you can address the labor shortage. Contractors throughout North America are facing the same difficulty and there is no end in sight. This means that we need to address the labor shortage in different ways like purchasing equipment that is going to make our work easier and more efficient.
Not only will vacuum lift equipment help you to work more efficiently, but it will also help you to draw in and even more importantly retain employees. Those that are working for you will be less willing to jump to a different company when they are already working for a company that is investing into them with equipment that will make their lives easier. It will be less tempting for them to move to a company that does not have the same equipment available to them which would make their work on job sites more difficult.
Vacuum Lifter: Lifting Different Materials
Before we get started with the different vacuum lifters available on the market, we need to talk about the difference between porous and non-porous material. The majority of this post is dedicated to landscapers who install concrete pavers, slabs, steps, and natural stone products of similar nature. Though there are many more vacuum lift systems available for other materials like glass and metal that are suitable for other industries.
In the hardscape industry, we deal with two different types of concrete products: wet cast and dry cast. Wet cast is created using concrete that is mixed wet, poured into a mold, and vibrated to release any air pockets that formed. This allows for a consistent mix of concrete throughout the product with a very dense concentration of concrete. Often times these products have a finished surfaced that looks completely smooth. This makes wet cast products more non-porous. This means that there is little to no room for water and air to flow through these products which is extremely important when considering a vacuum lift system for you. Most wet cast products that are created by manufacturers include things like wall caps, steps, some paving slabs, and, even more rarely, pavers.
Dry cast, on the other hand, can have noticeable pockets of air on the surface, sides, and bottom. This is because the mixing process is very different than the wet cast products and it uses only enough water to activate the cement within the concrete mix. These stones can have a fairly smooth surface, but if you look closely you will see the pockets of air. These pockets throughout the product will let air and water flow through the stone making them a porous concrete product. Once again, an extremely important note to make when considering a vacuum lift system for you. Most dry cast products are pavers and retaining wall systems, but you will definitely find steps and slabs made as dry cast.
How do you spot the difference? Look at the surface of the product. Is it completely smooth without any small air pockets? Then it is likely a wet cast product. But the biggest tell is when you flip the product over. Most dry cast products will have a noticeably smooth bottom with even larger and more noticeable air pockets throughout the bottom compared to their top. Wet cast products are either the same molded texture throughout or have an almost wet concrete texture. If you are still unsure, speak with your supplier or sales representative to confirm whether it is a dry or wet cast product.
Natural stone products all have different measures of porosity. Limestone being more porous than granite, but still being less porous than a dry cast product. A lot of the natural stone products you will install as a hardscaper will likely be either limestone or granite / basalt stone. These should be considered when choosing the right stone vacuum lifter for your business, but both of these natural stone products are comparable or even less porous than the wet cast concrete products.
The reason why you need to know this information is that the more porous a material is, the stronger the vacuum you are going to need in order to pull more air through to create a strong seal on the product that you are lifting. These vacuums generally need to be plugged into a power source, whereas vacuums for materials that are less porous (wet cast concrete and natural stones) do not need to pull as much air through in order to create a firm seal and generally are powered by a battery.
Choosing the right vacuum lifting product for your business depends on the type of product that you intend to use it for. If you lay mostly pavers, then a paver lifter that is plugged in and draws in a lot of air through the vacuum is the best choice for you. If you want something small to lay wet cast concrete products or small natural stone pieces for overlays, there is a small product on the market for you. If you install large slabs, steps, or armor stone, there are products to cover all of these applications.
Vacuum Lift Systems
Vacuum lifting equipment have exploded lately in the landscaping industry as manufacturers of these pieces of equipment have created smaller more compact sizes for pavers, slabs, and steps. There is a vacuum lifting device for every installation now in a hardscape project and likely one available to you that will help you become more efficient.
There are small handheld vacuum lifting devices that allow you to pick up non-porous materials to install. These units are one handed pieces that makes it easier for the installer to place a piece of natural stone without pinching their fingers or disturbing the base.
There is also battery powered backpack vacuum lifting equipment that allow you to pick up both porous and non-porous materials. These are perfect for installers of pavers and natural stone products to be able to pick up a piece of product and install it while standing without being bent over, pinching fingers, or disturbing the base while installing. These speed up the installation process while saving your back and knees. They are also the perfect tool to pick up a stone in the middle of your laid area that needs to be replaced.
There are also two-man vacuum slab lifters that allow you to pick up non-porous or porous larger slabs with two people at either end. This definitely speeds up the process of laying larger slabs while also allowing you to make quick adjustments of the stones that have been laid if need be.
Finally, there are also larger units that can be chained to a machine that will allow you to pick up larger non-porous slabs that cannot be picked up by a few people. Things like larger pieces of natural stone or steps are now easily picked up from the top and put into place without having to deal with different sizes of clamps or using straps. A much more efficient system to be really efficient with your installs.
With so many different vacuum lifters to choose from to support your landscaping business, we figured it would be best to break down your choices of lifters for your business and which ones would best suit the work that you do on a consistent basis.
In the following examples, we provide descriptions, videos, and links to M-Quip vacuum lifters. They are an industry leader when it comes to these tools and have impressed us on numerous occasions with their innovation. I have used and seen their equipment in action and would stand behind their products. If you so feel inclined, click on the link for each of these products and get in touch with M-Quip to purchase. They are a family operation out of Burlington, Ontario and have been established since 2014.
Mini Vacuum Lifter
The Grabo is battery operated and suitable for non-porous material. This includes wet cast concrete and most natural stone products. If you are doing an overlay with natural stone, this will make it easier to place and adjust pieces without having your fingers in the way. If you purchase two of them, placing natural stone coping treads becomes a breeze if you are building steps or even installing pool coping. These are the perfect pieces of equipment to have if this is what you want to use them for. They are reasonably priced and a good introduction into vacuum lifting equipment.
Vacuum Paver Lifter
If your company mostly installs pavers, then perhaps investing in a paver vacuum lift product that specializes in this would be most useful. Because most pavers are dry cast products, you are going to need a product that is plugged in to a power source and that draws enough air through the vacuum to get a good seal on the paver. These products are great for ensuring that you are not having to be on your knees when laying or getting up and down. These vacuum paver lifters ensure an efficient job site while also keeping you from fatigue. The benefit of these lifters is that they can be used to pick up wet cast and natural stone pieces that have a weight rating of less than what the equipment is rated for.
Vacuum Slab Lifter
Having two people available to use a vacuum slab lifter to place slabs makes laying a patio a breeze. Especially when a slab is taking up so much square footage per piece, you will have it laid in no time. The best part about using these vacuum paving slab lifters is that if you need to pick up a piece in order to adjust the bedding layer, it is incredibly easy and you will not be pinching any fingers to pick up and put down a piece. This is a must have machine if you are going to be laying slabs.
Vacuum Lifter for Steps
When you are getting into larger pieces of materials that you are installing, they are likely going to be wet cast concrete or natural stone. For the most part these are less porous which means you can get away with a vacuum lifter that is battery operated. However, you will need a vacuum lifter that is larger with a bigger plate on it to form a solid seal on the piece of material that is being installed. This is no problem for some of the products that MQUIP has to offer.
Vacuum Lifter for Large Natural Stone Products
Natural stone can be a little bit more difficult when choosing the right vacuum lifter for it. This is because natural stone varies in porosity, but it also has a textured surface. If there is too much texture on the surface of the stone, it may be a little bit difficult for the vacuum lifter to obtain a proper seal. However, these vacuum lifters are pretty incredible and with the right combination of lifter, plate, and seal, you can get a proper piece of equipment to lift the material you are installing. It is best to contact the company you are purchasing the vacuum equipment from beforehand and let them know what material you intend to use the vacuum lifter for before you purchase.
Having the right equipment in your business will completely change the way in which you complete projects and help your business run more efficient while also retaining the employees you do have. Your job sites will be safer and your quality of work will improve. Investing in a vacuum lifter is one such piece of equipment that you can purchase to help you accomplish these things in your business.
Are you considering investing in a vacuum lifter? Have you already been using one of these machines on your job sites? Leave a comment below with your questions or your experience with using one of these machines.