Cover story: Vac-Ex equipment

A closer look at the powerful Vac-Ex T-VAC 2 and the AIR-VAC tracked air vacuum excavators, distributed in NZ by Youngman Richardson

The Vac-Ex T-VAC 2 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.

Having established a presence in the New Zealand market, local distributor Youngman Richardson is now looking forward to creating opportunities for a wider audience for Vac-Ex New Zealand products.  

Three Demonstration Days were recently held at the company’s Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch locations where customers were invited to a ‘give-it-a-go’. At each demonstration, trained sales staff and senior management personnel were on hand to offer expert advice and participants were encouraged to try out the Vac-Ex equipment at each branch’s purpose-built demonstration pit. Customers can also request the option of an on-site demonstration of the AIR-VAC demonstration unit at their own premises.

Customer feedback

Ground decomposition with the T-VAC and AIR-EX

Since launching last year, the market has responded positively to the new hi-tech tracked air vacuum excavation models. Auckland-based civil contractor company Libbet Limited was the first to order two T-VAC units and currently also has an AIR-VAC track.

The company is planning to launch its hire operation shortly once operational trials on the products have been completed.

"The purpose of this exercise will enable us to be better informed when recommending Vac-Ex equipment for specific applications," says Libbet managing director Wayne Edwards.

"In the first instance, we see power and utilities companies as having the most to gain by experiencing the potential benefits from this equipment."  

Initially, Libbet will be making the T-VAC and AIR-VAC units available with either the option of a dry hire (machinery only) or a wet hire (with operator supplied).

Another company that sees the potential in establishing a rental business for the Vac-Ex New Zealand models is Air Vac Trax. Director Fan Hanrahan is familiar with the Vac-Ex brand having worked with the product in the UK. When Vac-Ex units became available in New Zealand, he wasted no time in acquiring an AIR-VAC track with a Denyo DU-190 compressor and trailer combination for a new business he was setting up.

"The best thing about Vac-Ex units is that unlike many of the big machines, it can work in tight spaces. In the hire business, you need to have transportable and versatile equipment. The AIR-VAC track made perfect sense to us, as we will be targeting those working in potholing, trenching, rail works, arboriculture, and site works. It’s early days but we’re encouraged by the level of enquiry and the fact that we already have several jobs in the pipeline," says Fan.

A couple of months ago, local Queenstown contractor JCL Asphalt was working on a street upgrade in the city centre and was about to hire some larger equipment to identify the service utilities as part of their preparation work. Around this time, JCL Asphalt managing director, James Craw was attending the HIANZ/CCNZ conference in Christchurch and was attracted to an interesting piece of large yellow equipment on the Youngman Richardson stand.

"I immediately saw an opportunity to use the Vac-Ex T-VAC 2 on not only the current Queenstown project but also on future roading work with local regional council alliances and larger tier-one contractors who we have done sub-contracting work with previously. The cost and environmental impact benefits of the Vac-Ex T-VAC 2 were instantaneous, and best of all, we’re now able to do the preliminary work ourselves. Better still, the machine has its own onboard hydraulics and air compressor. Great result all round and as they say the rest is history," says James.

The new way to extract soil around valuable ground assets

The Vac-Ex T-VAC 2 and AIR-VAC track provide an alternative to traditional digging methods

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 100mm wide in under five minutes depending on the ground. The soil removal process is fast and can effectively save between four and five times the time taken to dig using traditional methods. 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 2750kg, each offering a different solution to the customers’ requirements.

With its head office in Doncaster, England Vac-Ex distributes its products globally with partnership agreements throughout Europe, Asia, and Oceania. New Zealand distributor Youngman Richardson is the 11th country where the brand has a presence.

The T-VAC 2 air vacuum 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, the manufacturer says, and is supplied with an onboard compressor, high-pressure water, and hydraulic outputs.

The T-VAC 2 is an asset when working around residential areas, where noise reduction is a factor.

  • Weight: 2750kg
  • Height (skip lowered): 2250mm
  • Height (skip at max. tip): 2580mm
  • Width: 1775mm
  • Length: 3850mm
  • Vacuum: Twin turbine
  • Optional: Compressor 145psi/10 bar
  • Optional: HP Water: 2000psi/137 bar
  • Skip capacity: 1m³

The AIR-VAC track air vacuum excavator


The AIR-VAC track air vacuum unit can excavate 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.

Because of its compact size, the AIR-VAC tracked air 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 work site.

  • Weight: 1650kg
  • Height (top of exhaust): 1950mm
  • Height (at min. tipping): 1800mm
  • Height (at max. tipping): 2580mm
  • Width: 1000mm
  • Length: 2600mm
  • Hydraulic PTO: 25 or 50L/min @150 bar
  • Hose inlet: 125mm/5"
  • Skip capacity: 0.20m³

AIR-EX excavating tool


The AIR-EX lance 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 100psi, this tool enables safe, effective, stress-free loosening of the ground around buried fibre optics, gas, water, and electric utilities. At just over 3.5kg, the AIR-EX lance is a strong and durable tool, designed with operator comfort in mind.

  • Length: 755–1335mm
  • Compressor: 40–180 CFM
  • dB level: 93dB (close to compressor)
  • H.V. Test: 75kV
  • Effective ‘cut’: typically 100mm

For more information, contact Youngman Richardson Auckland head office 09 443 2436; Mt Wellington, Auckland, 09 553 5470; Wellington 04 212 2456 or for South Island enquiries, 03 341 6923, or visit

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