When you hear the term excavate, you will quickly think of works being completed on-site that involve the removal of dirt or debris to prepare an area for new infrastructure or builds, or perhaps maintenance works that need to be completed.

Excavation processes need to consider existing infrastructure underground, including water pipes or electrical, or even the roots of trees that need to be protected, and traditional excavation may not necessarily be the safest or most efficient choice when it comes to completing a project.

Enter Vacuum excavation.

A vacuum excavation process is not as destructive when it comes to digging, as it involves breaking down surrounding dirt with water, and then using an air vacuum to suck it away from the space.

Like any site project that requires digging, vacuum excavators come in different sizes for the space and volume of dirt that is to be removed. Ranging from small enough to fit in the trailer of a utility vehicle through to truck-mounted for more heavy-duty and larger excavation projects, their combination of water and suction makes a great alternative to traditional machinery.

Traditionally, you may consider a backhoe, excavator, a bobcat with an excavator attachment or even the handheld mattock for removal of dirt, however, their digging methods mean that underground pipes or trees can be easily damaged, or it can take longer to safely remove the dirt, adding time and money to a project budget.

A vacuum excavator can do the following:

  • Adjust the water pressure to minimize damage to roots of trees that need protecting
  • Complete high-pressure water blasting to provide clear access for repair work
  • Manage suction pressure for clean up of debris on site
  • Minimizes the need for backfilling.


Types of vacuum excavation include using jet rodders, vacuum trucks and sucker trailers, so that the removal of dirt or debris can be completed in a process known as NDD or Non-Destructive Digging – ideal for areas where tree roots need to be protected, or where there is an existing infrastructure that requires an extra level of care.

Before selecting the right vacuum excavator, consider the scope of works, and the volume of dirt or debris that needs to be removed. Vacuum excavators can be used for Utility works, Civil and construction works, and Mining & resources, and for the maintenance of open spaces and care of tree root systems as part of arboreal care.

Their application across industries allow their owners to explore additional markets and income streams, or to stay focused and specialized with the right equipment choice and the right accessories and attachments.

New technology is always emerging, and we pride ourselves on staying up to date with equipment that enables works to be completed safely, efficiently and effectively so that you can choose equipment that not only meets your needs but also meets regulatory requirements of governing bodies.

If you’d like to know more about vacuum excavators and choosing the right configuration for your industry and project, feel free to contact the team at Vermeer.

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