Before breaking ground on a new project, it’s important to know what buried utilities are hiding underground. Services such as One-Call are a great starting point at identifying a utility’s location, but they are not foolproof. Vacuum excavators, on the other hand, can be essential to your fleet, helping to expose utilities so you don’t cause serious and costly damage.
Vacuum excavation technology has been around in some shape or form since the 1950s. Vacuum hoses are often seen around work areas suctioning the earth to expose a utility in a fast, safe and surgical manner. Operators can safely identify and positively locate a utility — avoiding the potential of damaging it during a dig.
Vacuum excavator manufacturers provide their histories, summaries and specs for their product lines below. Take a look at these machines and consider the benefits they offer for keeping crews safe on the job and utilities in working order.
Since its founding in 1949, the Ditch Witch organization has grown from inventing the first mechanized, compact service-line trencher to being a one-stop source for underground construction equipment. Introduced in the early 2000s, Ditch Witch vacuum excavators help with cleanup and hydro excavation on underground construction sites. The latest lineup includes innovations in noise reduction that support the growing use of vacuum excavators in residential areas. In addition to its lineup of quality vacuum excavators, Ditch Witch offers a range of equipment, including horizontal directional drills, trenchers, vibratory plows, drill pipe, chain, teeth and sprockets and mini skid steers.
Product Spotlight: FXT Series
Each unit in the FXT Series offers several optional features to meet the needs of a customer’s ever-changing jobsite, such as wireless boom, water heater and reverse flow. Built for compact jobsites, the FXT30 is the smallest unit equipped with a 24.8-hp engine and 500 cfm — enough suction power for any job. Rated at 73-dBA, the FXT30 is also one of the quietest units on the market, says the company. The FXT50 features a 49-hp engine that powers a 1,027-cfm blower. The model also offers a 3,000-psi water system with a flow of 5 gpm. As the largest, most productive Ditch Witch vacuum excavator, the FXT65 is turbocharged with a 74-hp engine and 1,215 cfm for sizeable cleanup jobs, larger excavations and potholing. An auxiliary hydraulic power system enables a variety of tools from impact wrenches to jackhammers.
“The growing versatility of vacuum excavators is helping every customer find the right equipment for their job,” says Chapman Hancock, product manager for vacuum excavation. “When evaluating a potential unit, a high-powered excavation system is important but so is customizing the system. Most units offer different-sized water and spoils tanks, decreasing the chance of downtime when a water source is not readily available. Additional features are also becoming common, such as water heaters to keep water from freezing in inclement weather and cyclonic filters to prevent dry materials from flowing into the mesh filter, which can minimize system productivity.”
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