Cover story: New vacuum tracked excavators

Youngman Richardson has been appointed NZ distributor for UK-based Vac-Ex’s unique range of excavation equipment

With its head office in Doncaster, England, Vac-Ex distributes its products globally with partnership agreements throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia. Youngman Richardson, having now been appointed a partner, are the 11th country where Vac-Ex has a presence.

"To celebrate the appointment, we’ve initially chosen two vacuum tracked Vac-Ex New Zealand models, which are absolutely ideal for New Zealand conditions," says Youngman Richardson sales director, Phil Fairfield.

"The Vac-Ex T-VAC track and the AIR-VAC track provide a safe and specialist alternative to traditional digging methods where buried utilities need to be quickly located and safely exposed, particularly on construction sites. And just for something entirely different, we will also make available the AIR-EX lance, which is a lightweight, hand-held air excavating tool that can be used in conjunction with the two compact vacuum excavation machines."

Vac-Ex uses compressed air to break up the ground before vacuuming the loosened soils. By using this specialist technique, the excavated material remains dry, giving users the option to reuse the material on-site to refill holes or trenches saving on disposal costs.

AIR-VAC exposing buried utilities
AIR-VAC exposing buried utilities

As well as general use in the construction and hire industries, specific industrial applications could include pipe laying, cable laying, gas, roadworks, tunnelling, arboriculture, military, airports, municipal, building, environmental, hydro-demolition, petrochemical, and rail works.

Auckland-based rail civil company Libbet Limited has recently ordered two T-VAC track units.

"With the footprint the size of a mini excavator, the Vac-Ex is perfect for working in tight spaces," says Libbet Limited’s managing director, Wayne Edwards.

"The location of services will be much easier around the worksite, as it requires no traffic management compliance and can be comfortably transported from one place to the next," says Wayne.

Extracting soil around valuable ground assets

As well as being non-destructive, the Vac-Ex process has a unique property that can excavate narrow and deep holes or trenches up to two metres deep and 90mm wide in under five minutes, depending on the ground. The soil removal process is fast and can effectively save four to five times the time taken to hand dig. Vac-Ex units can come in different sizes, shapes, and weights to suit the job at hand. The Vac-Ex tracked units have an operating weight from 1650 to 2880kg, each offering a different solution to the customers’ requirements.

Breaking the ground: Compressed air is either supplied on-board the unit or externally is directed through an insulated AIR-EX lance to initially loosen, agitate, or aerate the ground. This loosens the debris, which is then safely removed by vacuum.

Removing the ground: The Vac-Ex units generate a large amount of airflow and vacuum. The process separates the debris and filters the dust, which ultimately results in clean air being expelled into the atmosphere.

Difficult ground: If the ground is stubborn, high-pressure water is a good alternative to safely work around underground plant and equipment.

The AIR-EX tool is ideal for ground decompaction and clearance of soil from around underground assets

Transportation and disposal: The Vac-Ex equipment are sealed units, enabling the dry materials to be transported without the risk of cross-contamination. The excavated material can also be re-used on-site, meaning there’s no need to transport the material to be disposed of.

The T-VAC 2 tracked excavator

Capable of excavating most types of wet or dry ground, the T-VAC 2 can access an array of sites where space is limited. This model has excellent off-road capability and can be supplied with an optional lightweight on-board compressor, high-pressure water, hydraulic outputs, and generator.

Great for water leaks, the T-VAC also doubles as a trash pump with a 100mm/four-inch outlet in the debris door, allowing liquid waste material to be discharged at the same time as removing water from the excavation, thereby minimising disruption. The T-VAC is an asset when working around residential areas, where noise reduction is a factor.

The AIR-VAC tracked vacuum excavator

The AIR-VAC tracked vacuum unit is capable of excavating most types of wet or dry ground. This compact unit can be manoeuvred easily around most construction sites and has proven productivity when compared to traditional excavation methods.

This method of excavation is also much safer and reduces operator fatigue, allowing the work to progress quicker. Because of its compact size, the AIR-VAC tracked vacuum unit is ideal for carrying out jobs such as installing electric vehicle charge points or working on underground services where space is restricted. It’s also ideal for rail applications, as it’s capable of tracking in between railway lines to access the worksite.

AIR-EX excavating tool

The AIR-EX is an industry-leading air excavation tool for ground decompaction and clearance of soil from around underground assets. With air speeds of up to 2135kph and with pressures exceeding 120psi, this tool helps enable safe, effective, stress-free loosening of the ground around buried fibre optics, gas, water, and electric utilities.

The AIR-VAC is capable of excavating most types of wet or dry ground

The Vulcanex nozzles with non-sparking tips concentrate the airflow into a high-velocity jet stream that penetrates and dislodges the soil in milliseconds, removing the potential of damaging buried assets. Weighing just over 3.5kg, the AIR-EX lance is a strong and durable tool, designed with operator comfort in mind. The actuator valve requires minimum force to engage, reducing hand and forearm fatigue, and the risk of repetitive strain disorders. 

At your service

Youngman Richardson says they are committed to working closely with Vac-Ex to provide technical support, spare parts, and workshop service training on a regular basis to their customers.

Youngman Richardson gets behind everything it sells and has workshop facilities and a professional team of mobile mechanics to prove it. Purpose-built mobile service utility vehicles based in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch have been specifically fitted out to handle planned and unplanned maintenance across all equipment. More efficient workplace layouts have been created to improve service times and the company’s reputation for its fast turnaround of parts is said to be second to none.

Youngman Richardson’s YR Connect Asset Security & Service assists its customers with the servicing, maintenance, and security of its construction equipment assets, all from any digital device. This big step forward has not only added another level of service for the company but also furthered its reputation for outstanding customer support.

For more information about the Vac-Ex product range, contact Youngman Richardson: Auckland 09 443 2436, Wellington 04 212 2456 or for South Island enquiries, 03 341 6923.

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