Mini In Name, Not In Productivity
Mini-combo vacuum excavators provide contractors, municipalities exceptional versatility.
Don’t let the “mini” label fool you. Vermeer Vac-Tron series mini-combo vacuum excavators offer owners and operators opportunities other machines don’t through a versatile combination of components and options that facilitate both hydro-jetting and excavation work in a single machine. Although the Vac-Tron mini-combo series of trailer vacuum excavators may have a more compact footprint compared to full-sized trucks or larger trailer-mounted systems, what they lack in physical size they make up for in versatility and performance, delivering productivity to smaller, space-restricted jobsites that are often inaccessible with these machines’ larger counterparts.
The mighty mini
For a “mini” machine, the mini-combo series helps change how municipalities perform routine water and sewer maintenance work — along with a variety of other supplementary jobs they can be used for — in a more efficient and productive manner, according to Vermeer MV Solutions® Sales Director Brian Showley.
Right now, most municipalities have larger jetter trucks in their fleets, but they’re typically reserved for bigger jobs for which they were designed. The efficiency and functionality of those larger units decline when deployed for smaller excavation, jetting and potholing work. Using a mini-combo machine instead helps maintain a high productivity for both machines by better matching their capabilities with the jobs for which they’re used.
“Many municipalities are starting to realize that, with the cost of operation, it doesn’t make sense to pull a large vacuum excavation truck off a larger project to work on a 4-inch (10.1 cm) lateral. If you have to pull it off a big job, you aren’t getting the value from the machine,” Showley said. “You can do that smaller job for a fraction of the cost and keep that big truck busy doing the jobs for which it was designed.”
With their high onboard water capacity, the machines enable the operator to work longer hours without stopping to refill, a process that pauses revenue-generating work, sometimes for hours.
Choosing the right mini-combo
The combined sewer jetting and hydro-excavation capabilities make the mini-combo models ideal for a range of other excavation and potholing jobs. So, how do you know if a mini-combo machine is right for your fleet?
Showley recommended asking a few key questions if you’re a contractor or municipality considering adding a mini-combo vacuum excavator to your equipment lineup.
- What kind of excavation work do you do?
- Do you need and/or want to add jetting and hydro-excavation capabilities?
- What other excavation services could you reasonably offer by adding these capabilities?
- What excavation equipment do you currently use and how do you use it?
- What are your limitations with your current fleet?
- What kind of jobsite space restrictions do you encounter?
- Do you use and/or have access to a large jetter truck?
- If not, how are you responding to customer requests for work that requires this type of machine?
- If yes, are you renting or do you own it?
Specifications to get work done
Once you have answered the questions above, it is time to evaluate the models available. Vac-Tron offers three models — the 573 SDT, 873 SDT and 1273 SDT vacuum excavator.
- The 573 SDT model offers a 300-gallon (1,136-L) water tank capacity and 500-gallon (1,892.7-L) spoils tank capacity.
- The 873 SDT unit has a 400-gallon (1,515-L) water tank and an 800-gallon (3,028-L) spoils tank capacity.
- The 1273 SDT machine also has a 400-gallon (1,515-L) water tank capacity with a higher 1,200-gallon (4,545.5-L) spoils tank capacity.
All three models are engineered with a pump rated at 1,500 pounds per square inch (103.4 MPa) at 15 gallons per minute (57 L/min) and a powertrain featuring a 74-horsepower (55-kW) engine. This powerful engine and pump combination enable these “mini” machines to clean lateral lines up to 12 inches (30.4 cm) in diameter and 500 feet (152.4 m) in length.
Most importantly when looking at these specifications is that you need to consider the size — length, width, height and weight — of these machines to best understand which unit to choose. Deemed “mini” because of their compact footprint compared to larger jetter trucks, they can fit into and onto narrower, tight-access jobsites. For comparison, the small 573 SDT model measures 253 inches (643 cm) in length, 100 inches (254 cm) in width and sits 91 inches (231 cm) high. Its total gross weight is 14,000 pounds (6,350 kg).
The mid-sized 873 SDT unit measures 271 inches (688 cm) in length, 102 inches (259 cm) in width and sits 99 inches (251 cm) high. Its total gross weight is 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg).
The larger 1273 SDT machine measures 265.5 inches (674 cm) in length, 102 inches (259 cm) in width and sits 122 inches (310 cm) high. Its total gross weight is 24,000 pounds (10,886.2 kg).
Outfitted with options and accessories
Vac-Tron mini-combo vacuum excavators are engineered with a patented filtration system that includes an industry-leading .5-micron filtration with a filter housing, as well as a four-way valve for reverse pressure and an oversized silencer for quiet operation. They also come standard with a jetter wheel and heavy-duty I beam trailer.
These vacuum excavators do come with a choice of mechanically operated strong arms or hydraulic booms. Strong arms offer 270° of rotation and is designed to support the weight of the vacuum hose and roller head, allowing for smooth, fluid movements and adjustments, but this option requires manual operation. The hydraulic boom option provides the operator with six-way functionality and 330° of rotation — all with wireless, remote operation.
Vermeer MV Solutions Regional Sales Manager Mike Spaulding said hydraulic booms enable a single operator to do the same work as two workers with other vacuum excavators. “With a strong arm, you have to have two workers, one with the 4-inch (10.1-cm) hose over their shoulder and the operator controlling it.,” Spaulding noted. “The hydraulic boom allows the hose to rest in the boom, and with a remote, the operator can adjust and operate while they’re cutting. The operator can control that boom without absorbing so much of the impact with other systems using the handheld wireless remote controller, so they can operate from a distance if necessary.”
While the versatile hydraulic boom option does come with a higher price tag than the strong-arm choice, it can be offset in the right working situation on a range of jetting and excavation jobs.
“Preferences for options like the hydraulic boom depend on how the owner looks at their business. If they are going to have a large workforce on the jobsite, they may be less apt to pay for a hydraulic boom — opting instead for the mechanic strong arm configuration since they can put an extra worker on the job to help out.”
“But, if it’s someone who’s having trouble finding the right labor,” Spaulding added, “the hydraulic boom is a more attractive option so that extra worker doesn’t need to be there. If labor constrains your ability to dump and refill water tanks and you just have one worker to operate the machine, they can still be efficient with a hydraulic boom.”
Another hydraulic component of the Vermeer mini-combo machines is a rear door that enables the operator to efficiently clean out the tank when the job is complete.
These mighty mini-combo vacuum excavators can be used on a variety of jobsites including general utility work, as well as niche plumbing, sewer and municipality projects. “There are so many applications for which these machines work so well, and so many ways to save time on the jobsite. Contractors need to take all of this into account in determining how they can use a mini-combo vac,” Spaulding concluded.
For information about the mini-combo vacuum excavator, contact your local Vermeer dealer to learn more about how you can put one to work in your business.
Vac-Tron Equipment, LLC reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.
Vermeer, the Vermeer logo and Vermeer MV Solutions are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. Vac-Tron Equipment is a trademark of Vac-Tron Equipment, LLC.
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