Vacuum Excavation

What is vacuum excavation?

VacuumVacuum excavation uses a high power vacuum suction system to excavate soils or other materials during ground investigation projects. The technique uses a jet of air (delivered via an air-spade) or water (delivered via a water lance) to loosen soils, rather than using mechanical excavation plant or hand held tools.  After loosening, the soil is extracted from the excavation through an air vacuum hose which transports materials to an on-board spoil/debris tank for later disposal.

Why use vacuum excavation?

Vacuum excavation is now generally recognised as best practice for safe excavation during ground investigation, remediation, general construction and civil works.  Vacuum excavation can reduce the risk of damaging buried services including cables, pipes, drains and culverts. It also allows for excavation in areas of a site otherwise inaccessible to traditional plant. This technology can also be used as an alternative to manual hand digging, protecting site operatives by reducing manual handling and increasing the rate of progress for an excavation programme.

Typical applications:

  • Safe excavation of borehole inspection pits prior to mechanical drilling
  • Slit trenches or pits to expose and positively identify services
  • Safe excavation in contaminated materials
  • Allows excavation in areas inaccessible to larger plant
  • Well installation to depths of 2m
  • Railway ballast removal

Vector HDD650 vacuum excavation system:

Vacuum2Our Vector HDD650 system weighs in at less than 2.5 ton and has a powerful 36hp diesel engine. The system is intrinsically safe with shutdown button, chalwyn valve (positive air shut-off) and spark arrestor.

The system can deliver water under high pressure to safely loosen the ground. The water turns materials into wet slurry that is then ready for vacuum recovery. The water pressure delivered is effective at excavating in all soils without damaging services. Alternatively, compressed air can be used to effectively break up non cohesive materials before vacuum recovery whilst still being completely safe to any buried services or objects.

Once excavation is complete the recovered material is safely contained in a water tight spoil tank for subsequent disposal.

Operator Training and Competencies:

  • Trained in safe excavation techniques
  • Use of CAT and genny
  • CSCS
  • National Grid Person + BESC
  • SHEA Gas
  • SHEA Water
  • PTS