Understanding vacuum excavation equipment, and the variety of work it will perform, helps ensure that you place the right equipment on the right job, at the right time.
Until now, right sizing has not been a common phrase in the vacuum excavation market. Whenever you are adding a piece of equipment to your fleet, you need to first think about what the machine will be doing 80 percent of the time, not necessarily what the equipment might be called upon to do one percent of the time. Just as important as the number of trucks in your fleet the size category deserves equal consideration.
As the vacuum excavation market continues to develop, the sheer number of applications in which vacuum excavators are used has grown, as well. For example, a small municipal water utility repairing residential water services has an entirely different set of needs compared to a dedicated vacuum excavation contractor working on large excavation projects.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Vacuum excavator trucks are available in three general size categories: compact, mid-size and full-size. While all vacuum excavators dig holes, an application-based approach is key to efficient, cost-effective exposure of buried utilities. Full-size vacuum excavators are useful when capacity, speed and power are important parts of a job that requires a high level of productivity and output. Conversely, mid-size or smaller, compact vacuum excavators are often the right option when access to a work space is limited. Smaller, lighter, less bulky vacuum excavation trucks offer greater flexibility for operators working in a more confined space, such as a metropolitan or urban area. A significant factor in determining the right size of vacuum excavator is the distance and time required to dump, as well as regulatory concerns such as weight restrictions and environmental concerns.
Compact Vacuum Excavators
Featuring a smaller footprint, compact vacuum excavators are suited for tight jobsites and confined spaces typically found in urban areas. The utility sector in particular has embraced compact trucks for small to mid-size jobs. The compact, non-CDL TRUVAC Paradigm vacuum excavator is an example of a category that has become popular with those who formerly operated smaller, trailer-mounted vacuum excavators and now require greater performance and a highly maneuverable utility sector-ready machine. The 3-cubic yard capacity Paradigm can dig holes with water or air; vacuum, contain and dispose of drill mud; power pneumatic, hydraulic or electrical tools; and provide transport and storage of replacement parts, equipment and tools.
Mid-size Vacuum Excavators
The mid-size (9 cubic yard) vacuum excavator category is a popular with governmental, utility and general contractors. These trucks are found operating on a variety of jobsites across North America – from fencing contractors to utility crews – where more capacity is needed. The legal payload, larger capacity, and maneuverability make mid-sized trucks the all-around work horses for bigger jobs, while also being able to tackle projects in tight quarters.
TRUVAC Coyote and Prodigy vacuum excavators are popular examples in the mid-size category that offer maximized legal payload configuration, the TRUVAC Coyote delivers easier maneuverability in urban environments and boasts an extremely rugged design proven in the harshest environments. Designed for a wide range of demanding applications, the TRUVAC Prodigy delivers impressive productivity, but with lower operating costs than full-size triaxle machines.
Full-size Vacuum Excavators
The full-size category is still the most popular by overall volume of sales for those needing maximum performance and capacity for the toughest jobs. For most vacuum excavator manufacturers, the full-size category tends to include the greatest number of product offerings.
When selecting a full-size vacuum excavator, look for a truck with a customizable design that allows for different chassis and axle configurations, industrial-grade controls, and a powerful vacuum and water system.
TRUVAC HXX and Wolf Vacuum Excavators
TRUVAC offers full-size models ranging from the tandem axle TRUVAC HXX to triaxle offerings such as the TRUVAC Wolf. Both trucks can be fully customizable, offer features that make operation easier, faster and more efficient, deliver unmatched strength, and can withstand the harshest conditions.
Getting the right size equipment with the right capacity and features that performs as needed on the job is crucial for running a profitable business. Using the wrong equipment wastes time, slashes your profit margin and poses unnecessary safety risks.
Patrick McGee is director of sales (Ontario and New York) at Joe Johnson Equipment.