The University of Central Florida purchased a Vac-Tron AIR 373 SDT vacuum excavator in 2016 and shared the benefits this unit has created for the facilities.
“We didn’t have an initiative on campus to do soft digging and locating, so we went looking for a solution and Vac-Tron came out to be the best value for our money,” said Anthony Lugo, UCF Utility Supervisor.
Some of the initiatives that UCF utility workers handle daily include identifying and mapping the location of utility lines.
“We have a lot of old utility lines in the ground that haven’t been located in many decades. They have never been marked properly, and it is our job to find them, mark them, and put them on the map. Finding those lines can be time-consuming and intrusive to the property. But the biggest obstacle when you are part of the utility crew is safety, you don’t want to hit electrical lines with a shovel.” said Lugo.
The utility crew is also responsible for emergency water line breaks. “Prepping the area for a water line break repair is a tedious job and time is of the essence,” added Lugo.
The Vac-Tron AIR 373 SDT vacuum excavation unit. The UCF AIR unit is powered by an 83 HP Yanmar diesel engine and comes standard with a 300-gallon debris tank, air pressure of 150 CFM at 170 PSI, hydraulically operated full-open rear door with auto engage safety latch, and one 100-gallon water tank. This unit also has the Patented Remote Debris Tank, which collects the dry material and then can be positioned back over the hole to put back into place without causing much disruption to the surroundings.
Upgrading from traditional methods of excavation, an excavator or hand shovel, to a Vac-Tron unit has greatly increased efficiency for the UCF utility crew. “It made things faster, it made things safer. It saves us a lot of time, what used to take 4-6 hours, now only takes 1-2 hours. We aren’t spending any unnecessary time doing a job.” said Lugo.
“The biggest thing is safety, safety is the key aspect. The Vac-Tron unit allows us to be safe in an expedited fashion. This is considered soft digging, which is just basically pulling the dirt out of the ground so you’re not striking anything. You could hit a high voltage electrical line, high-pressure water or gas line, any number of things, and the Vac-Tron AIR unit helps to eliminate that.” stated Lugo.
- Potholing quickly to locate old utility lines for identification and mapping
- 4-6 hour projects now take 1-2 hours
- Respond quicker to water line breaks
- Quicker repairs to water line breaks with the power of the vacuum excavator removing debris
- Cleaning of storm drains in an efficient way
- Wastewater spills quickly cleaned up
- Less intrusive to the campus’ infrastructure
- Less disruption to the environment
Multiple departments at UCF are also using the Vac-Tron unit. For example, the Landscaping and Recreation crew uses it to clean out storm drains, and the Design and Construction team will request it to locate lines for future construction on the campus. UCF has found multiple uses for the Vac-Tron unit. “This has been a godsend because we can actually find things without being as intrusive to the campus’ infrastructure. For the value we are getting, it has turned out to be priceless!” added Lugo.
Check out the full interview and video footage of the unit in action at UCF.