The VSL hydraulic strand lifting system provides a custom-engineered solution for the toughest jobs. It combines proven components from VSL’s strand post-tensioning system with hydraulic jacks and pumps to lift heavy loads safely and economically.

  • Convention Centre
    Lifting of a 1,140t roof and load transfer onto the permanent structure.
    Turkmenistan - 2014 read more

    Convention Centre

  • Power Plant 670 MW
    Lifting of boiler components for two boilers.
    Bulgaria - 2010 read more

    Power Plant 670 MW

  • Passerelle de la Paix
    Stabilisation of a footbridge during transport and installation.
    France - 2014 read more

    Passerelle de la Paix

  • Exhibition Centre Expansion
    Lifting of the four main roof trusses to support a three-level expansion structure linking Phases I and II across a 90m-wide water channel.
    Hong Kong - 2008 read more

    Exhibition Centre Expansion


Custom-engineered solutions for the toughest jobs

The strand-lifting technique has become ever more technologically advanced to meet strong growth in the demand for visionary architecture and for heavy lifting solutions that do not rely on cranes.

Automatically controlled hydraulic jacks together with strands and the VSL skidding system allow for lifting, lowering, tilting, sliding, jacking or skidding of heavy loads e.g. bridges, roofs, antennas, pinnacles, boilers, offshore platforms, tunnel boring machines or structures.

VSL is a major player in this market: its Heavy Lifting system has contributed to enhancing quality and safety as well as compressing construction schedules and reducing costs. VSL’s specialised hydraulic lifting equipment is designed to provide the highest level of reliability and all equipment is rigorously tested and serviced.

At the end of the 1960s, VSL came up with the visionary idea of lifting heavy loads by combining proven components from its strand post-tensioning system with hydraulic jacks and pumps.

The initial application involved three 490t concrete dome shells for a series of circular aluminium silos in Sardinia. They were lifted 28m and then fixed into their final positions. Lifting and stressing of the steel cable-net system for the acrylic tent-shaped roofs at Munich's Olympic Stadium in 1971 served as another milestone in the development of this new erection technique.

Strong growth in the market for visionary architecture and the demand for alternative heavy lifting (lifting by means other than cranes) have spurred the use of the state-of-the-art strand-lifting technique. VSL continues to be a major player in the market.

Equipment and controls have been improved and new fields of application have opened up. VSL's Heavy Lifting system has contributed to enhancing quality and safety, compressing construction schedules and saving money. VSL continues to stand for innovative engineering, high safety standards and reliable performance.

Top priorities are the safety of personnel and components together with a high regard for environmental impact. VSL’s specialised hydraulic lifting equipment is designed for the highest level of reliability and all equipment is rigorously tested and serviced through a quality control and maintenance programme. VSL field service teams all have a total commitment to safety.


VSL’S products and services

VSL provides a complete range of services from initial concepts through engineering, planning, equipment supply and the execution of any Heavy Lifting project. The approach is flexible and the extent of VSL’s services is tailored to meet specific project requirements. Services are provided worldwide by the VSL Group and include:

  • Feasibility studies and preliminary consultation for placing of heavy loads or statically complex structures
  • Project design and planning, equipment specification, scheduling and budgeting
  • Design, manufacture and supply of any special equipment and temporary structures required
  • Leasing and operation of VSL equipment
  • The execution of works planned either by VSL or other parties

Advantages of the VSL’s services

Tailor-made efficiency

With its custom-designed solutions, VSL can plan the work or serve as a single point of contact for lifting, horizontal jacking or lowering operations; as well as designing the necessary temporary structures to suit project requirements.


VSL has the ability to innovate and produce reliable and cost-effective solutions. This is thanks to three decades of experience, clear thinking, sound engineering skills and the highest levels of safety through the use of advanced and reliable in-house hydraulic equipment.

Flexible approach

VSL offers a complete range of services for the planning, engineering, equipment supply and execution of any heavy lifting project.

Safety with lower costs

Use of heavy lifting means that a structure can be built or assembled close to ground level, which brings greater safety for staff and requires fewer supports, less falsework and smaller cranes, hence saving time and money.

Contributing to sustainable solutions

Minimal environmental impact

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A strand lifting unit has the capacity to lift up to 200 times its own weight - in comparison the ratio for a crane might be as low as one, depending on the load and the height of the lift. As a result, the resources required to mobilise the equipment on site are substantially lower, which makes heavy lifting a far more environmentally friendly solution.

How it works

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The VSL strand jack lifting system

The upper anchorage is attached to the jack piston. The jack is extended during lifting, which causes the individual strands of the tensile member to be gripped by the upper anchorage and thus moved upwards. At the start of the piston’s downward movement, the strands are gripped by the lower anchorage as the upper anchorage opens. The load is therefore moved in a step-by-step process. For lowering operations, VSL motive units are equipped with a device that automatically controls the opening and closing of the anchorages. This allows lifting and lowering operations both to be carried out with the same degree of safety and speed.

Main components

The main components are the lifting or moving unit, the tensile member with the anchorages for the load, the pump and its controls.

Strand Lifting Unit (SLU)

Strand Lifting Unit

The SLU consists of a hydraulic centre-hole jack and upper and lower anchorages.

VSL’s equipment pool includes a large number and variety of hydraulic jacks with piston-strokes of between 160mm and 550mm and capacities from 100kN to 5,800kN.

Tandem units can be used in cases of exceptional loads and/or where high-speeds are required.

VSL can also design and supply custom-built hydraulic systems for special applications.

Tensile member

The tensile member or lifting cable consists of seven-wire prestressing steel strands of 15mm nominal diameter. It is anchored to the load by a custom-designed end anchorage.

Hydraulic pumps

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Hydraulic pumps

Electro-hydraulic pumps with either single or multiple outlets provide the required oil flow. Built-in control devices allow stresses to be monitored at all times. The size of pump can be chosen to suit the load to be moved. Movement speeds vary according to the project and can reach more than 20m/hour.

Skidding System

Completing the possibilities of moving heavy structures VSL has designed a skidding system composed of:

  • Skidding shoes with ring nut jacks, available up to 750t per unit
  • Push-pull units by long stroke jacks to move the skidding shoes in the skidding tracks
  • Skidding tracks made of U-shaped steel profiles assembled with Teflon-pads to guarantee a smooth movement.

The Skidding system is favoured for placing of big structures, built in a construction area, remote to the final position. A rapid execution is often required e.g. in case of close-down of traffic lines. Our system is a guarantee for a safe and efficient operation. For special repairs and other complicated placement operations a combined VSL system can be used: Strand lifting system, skidding system and auxiliary temporary installations (lifting towers, gantries...).

Skidding system moving a tunnel boring machine

Control and monitoring systems

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Control and monitoring systems

All VSL motive units and pumps can be operated either manually or by remote control. The lifting of hangar roofs or of other hyperstatic systems requires precise coordination of lifting movements. The precision operation uses specially designed, computer-based multi-point monitoring systems, which are centrally controlled and monitor the operation right up to the final height. The control systems are designed to meet each client’s individual project requirements. Connections and adaptations can be carried out to link to clients’ control systems.

Other equipment

Other equipment that is available to complete the installation includes hydraulic coilers, emergency safety devices and sensor-controlled measuring units.

Today’s civil engineering structures and industrial plants are often assembled from large, heavy, prefabricated components. However, there are many projects where cranes or other conventional handling equipment cannot be used because of space limitations or excessive weight or dimensions. Whatever the challenge, VSL Heavy Lifting can supply the most effective custom-engineered solution for moving heavy loads of any size, shape or height - the only limit is the human imagination.

VSL can plan and execute all kinds of movements of heavy loads, including lifting, tilting, sliding, lowering - or any combination of these - for roof structures, bridges, industrial power plants, special structures and temporary works.

VSL is capable of planning and executing all kinds of movements of heavy loads, including lifting, titling, sliding, lowering, skidding and jacking – or any combination of these.

Typical applications include:


A broad range of bridge and tunnel construction is covered by VSL-HL services, including method, design and fabrication of auxiliary equipoment e.g. gantries, towers …

Typical works are bridge-segment lifting, lowering for deconstruction, ILM, transport & placing from construction site to final position, sliding in/of tunnels, jacking down of superstructures a.s.o.

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Stonecutter Bridge, Hong Kong – Erection of steel decks and main span segments
Rheinvorland Bridge Worms, Germany – launching and lateral sliding of the 600m bridge


VSL Heavy Lifting allows realizing architects dreams. Strand jacking provides the possibility to place heavy elements safely in nearly inaccessible places.

Some typical works: Placing of beams, skybridges, pinnacles, prefabricated segments and formworks…

The placing can be done in combined cycles like lifting, sliding, tilting, lowering – any way you need.

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Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Singapore – lifting of the skypark steel structure
Gate District Towers, Abu Dhabi – lifting of two segments of a sky bridge and cantilever segments

Industry & Energy

A perfect application for heavy lifting methods is in such facilities as oil refineries, power plants and major research facilities. Elements with extreme dimensions and weights often need to be installed in areas with restricted access and space.

NPP Gösgen, Switzerland – exchange of the machine house gantry crane
Ferrosilicon plant Finfjord, Norway – lifting of two Aalborg boiler


Lowering and lifting of platforms; skidding, lifting and lowering works for the deconstruction of oil platforms, lifting of umbilical risers and cables; lowering of heavy parts about 100m into water …

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Sanaga Leg Barge, Cameroon – lowering of support legs, lifting of the hull
Tangiers Med II harbor, Morocco – lifting, skidding and lowering of offshore caissons


Very large roof structures are assembled on the ground and lifted to their final position, resting either on the permanent support structure or on a custom-made temporary structure. Containment structure domes are often lifted using heavy lifting schemes as well. These days, stadium roofs are often mad from a light fabric structure, stressed against a circumferential beam. Strand lifting units are combined to lift and stress the fabric membrane into its final position. High-rise buildings are often topped with iconic pinnacles, which are generally heavy structures located at extreme heights. Heavy lifting is ideally suited to tackle the challenge.

Meyer shipyard Papenburg, Germany – lifting of the roof structure
Narod Stadium Warsaw, Poland – lifting of the cable net roof

Special Projects

An unusual challenge to realize your project connected to heavy loads is feasible with us.

Some examples of projects realized together with us: Lowering of segments of a CMS detector, lifting and siding of a complete building, sliding of TBM’s, wind turbine foundation testing, lifting of a whole restaurant.

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Wind turbine foundation test Cuxhaven, Germany – oscillated pulling
CERN Geneva, Switzerland – Lowering of CMS Detectors

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