Vacuum Excavators for the Evolving HDD Industry

By: Jason Proctor, Ditch Witch Product Manager, Vacuum Excavators

The underground construction industry is continuously growing, especially as the trend towards residential fiber connectivity surges. And when thinking of the typical equipment needed for these underground installations, many different types of equipment are used for residential fiber. But, vacuum excavators also play an important role.

The versatile vacuum excavator has become a familiar sight on underground utility projects. These portable machines are used for dual purposes on HDD job sites:

  • Damage prevention – Cross bores are one of the biggest industry challenges. Vacuum excavators are used for potholing to help expose and visibly confirm the exact location of buried utilities and verify no damage to existing utility lines occurred, or in some cases watch the drilling head pass the existing utility
  • Drilling fluid removal – Many areas have tightening restrictions regarding drilling fluids, and vacs can easily clean-up sites and help operators contain and properly dispose of drilling fluids. The vacuum capability on the machine is used to remove excess drilling fluid that escape from bore holes.

Additionally, vacuum excavators come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit the needs of virtually any HDD job site.

  • Truck-mounted vacs – These machines can have a compact footprint, best suited for tight job sites often found in urban areas. Some units are designed with capacity to tow and haul other equipment to a job site, helping to reduce costs and space by requiring fewer vehicles onsite.
  • Trailer-mounted vacs –These machines are typically a lower investment for contractors, as they can be decoupled from another vehicle freeing up the asset for other uses. This also allows the machine to be more easily moved out of traffic on congested sites.

 Beyond size, contractors and operators must also consider hydro- versus air-excavation techniques when selecting the best vac for a specific job.

  • Hydro-excavation – This technique uses pressurized water which is a more widely accepted form of excavation and can be used in a wide range of soil conditions. Heated water enhances productivity in tight, clay-type solid and can dig in frozen ground conditions.  
  • Air-excavation –  This technique allows operators to excavate with compressed air and vacuum dry spoils which can be reused as backfill without the need for disposal. Contractors can save time and money without extra dumping fees, and reduce downtime associated with driving to disposal sites.

The Ditch Witch organization designs vacuum excavators to meet the needs of any job – from truck-mounted excavators for urban utility job sites, to trailer-mounted excavators for elongated projects, and with air- and hydro-excavation capabilities. For more information, visit Vacuum Excavation | Ditch Witch – Directional Drills, Trenchers, Vacs, & Skid Steers

HYDRAULIC BREAKER
Used for construction and demolition, our breakers can be used to break up asphalt, concrete or even clay. The hydraulic hammer is perfect for any small or medium job you might have. More up-time in the field is always the goal, and with only two moving parts and a few seals, there’s no reason for down-time.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

ROCK SAW

Best suited for irrigation and fiber installation, the Rock Saw attachment can effortlessly cut through rock, concrete, and other tough materials with unmatched precision. 

Compatible Models

SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

BACKHOE
Easily move materials for rebuilds, new construction, footings, utility repairs and more with this compact and versatile attachment.
Compatible Models

SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

STUMP GRINDERS
Featuring a heavy-duty boom design, powerful stump grinding attachments quickly shred stumps down to nothing. Easy maneuvering from stump to stump and increased visibility turns more ground stumps into more profit.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000

MULTITASK TOOL
Your multipurpose tool for the ultimate multi-tasker is here. Engineered to grab tight to heavy materials and move them with ease and precision, the multi-task tool is your go-to for heavy applications. Easy to operate with convenient, functional levers.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

CORE DRILL
With the MC-450 coring attachment, utility maintenance is simple and less disruptive. Featuring intuitive controls and an integrated water tank, the MC-450 is the perfect choice for quick cuts and a more productive coring process. A fully adjustable 0 to 280 rpm speed allows for enhanced control and greater productivity.
Compatible Models

SK1050, SK1550, SK1750