What is vacuum excavation? Vacuum excavation is digging with a vacuum to remove soil and debris that is broken apart with high-pressure water or air. This method of excavation is commonly referred to as “Soft Dig” and accepted as being safer than hand digging within the tolerance zone around underground utilities.
This process allows for workers on site to stay safe on the surface. This practice can eliminate accidental line damage and trench cave-ins.
This is the best method of identifying the accurate depth of a utility.
With vacuum excavation, companies have an alternative to hand digging and a safer way to expose utilities with both hydro and air (or dry) excavation.
Hydro Excavation is the process of safely uncovering underground utilities utilizing high-pressure water along with high-speed vacuum. Hydro excavation is faster than air excavation and is considered the most efficient type of vacuum excavation. Hydro excavation does not allow for the re-use of the spoil material for refilling the hole.
Air or dry Excavation is the process of using compressed air to disturb the earth’s soil which is then vacuumed up into a debris tank. Air excavation can be slower than hydro excavation, but it does allow the debris to be used back into the whole.
Why use vacuum excavation? Vacuum excavation virtually eliminates the danger of damaging underground utilities, while mechanical digging with hand tools or backhoes can cause damage to those utilities.
Vacuum excavation is less invasive than traditional methods of digging. It also offers lower cost with a higher level of precision with less surface restoration needed.
There are costs involved when striking an underground utility so by using vacuum excavation instead, you could eventually save cost and save lives within your company and in the community.
Should it be required? There are companies that already require it. There are locations states that require it because of the safety factor. It takes the chance out of damaging the line.
What are the different types of equipment? There are trailer-mounted units that can be towed behind a truck, so when you are not using it, it can be left in your yard. There are also truck mounted units. The available tow package on truck units allows towing of other equipment to the job site to help with efficiency.
How to compare and evaluate different vacuum excavators? You want to make sure you buy quality units that are tough and durable to handle the load. Because when you are excavating you have a live load in your tank and you want to make sure the trailer or the truck is set up to handle that load. Vac-Tron units are built from start to finish including the trailer which consists of sturdy I beam construction. There is no tougher trailer on the market. All are American Made. You also want to look at the filtration system.
What to look for when purchasing equipment? The first thing you look at it is capacity, what type of capacities do you need. Also, what type of performance are you requiring. We have all different sizes, small units from 150-gallons to 2,000-gallon capacity.
What is new in vacuum excavation equipment? There is new technology happening with the solidification of the material because its all about what do you do with that material after you excavated it.
What are some other uses or applications for this equipment? There are many different types of applications in the cleanup industry, especially in industrial plants. Many times, these plants are already using a vacuum of some sort or they have other companies coming in and doing it for them. Now, these industrial plants are finding out that they can buy a smaller trailer mounted unit or truck mounted unit and have it available to them at all times and it’s more efficient.
How do I implement vacuum excavation as a policy and best practice in my company or organization? There is a website you can go to vacuumexcavation.com and it gives you the policies and things you can implement into your company. It also helps you write that into your company. Once you do; you are safer, your employees are safer, and your profits are safer because you are less likely to strike underground utilities and damage them like you would if you are not using vacuum excavation.
What can I do to promote vacuum excavation? There are different organizations that promote it, they all have conventions and seminars that promote it where you and your employees can get further education on it. Everyone should get involved at some level.