Air vs Water

Air vs Water

Can a $13,000 machine replace a $180,000 VacTruck?

A bit of history...

Vacuum excavation has been around for a while, over 40 years in fact. It found early application in buried utility repair and maintenance through small “keyhole” pavement cuts. Most early machines used compressed air to break up soil because it’s safe around utilities and keeps fill dirt dry. Some folks also started using sewer cleaning trucks equipped with high pressure water for digging. “Hydro-Excavation” is ideal for very large excavations were the cost to bring in clean fill and dispose of mud spoils is outweighed by the large capacity and speed offered by these powerful machines.

But there was a problem: Both Air and Hydro machines were big, heavy, and EXPENSIVE.

Horizontal Direction Drilling (HDD) and the Mud-Vac

HDD contractors need a vacuum to clean up the drilling mud used in the process. Enter the Mud-Vac. But HDD contractors also need to expose utility lines before drilling, so some contractors added a power washer to their Mud-Vac to make a simple low cost hydro-excavator. For as little as $40,000 a simple trailer mounted mud vacuum and hydro-excavator could be had. Of course clean fill dirt had to be hauled in and spoils hauled away, and limited water supply meant limited dig time. Contactors still needed an air compressor to run a pavement breaker when utilities had to be exposed under roadways.

Enter Utilivac

By the mid-1990s our parent company was a growing utility mapping and vacuum excavation contractor with a big problem; their truck-mounted vacuum excavators couldn’t access many requested dig sites. They needed a truly portable machine. Then the insight: since a compressor is needed to run the air knife, “Why don’t we run the vacuum pump from the compressor as well? That way we can work anywhere we can run compressed air!” The Utilivac concept and Utiliscope Corp. was born. Since switching to the Utilivac system, our parent company has grown by over 400%. Can a $13,000 machine really replace a $180,000 VacTruck? You bet it can!

Try it out

We offer a risk-free trial lease program to customers in the U.S. So try a brand new Utilivac for 30 days and we’ll give you 100% of the rental cost toward its purchase. Just need vacuum excavator for a short term project? No problem, we also offer short term leases of machines from our rental fleet. Please contact the factory or your dealer to learn more about our trial lease and rental programs.

To purchase your Utilivac, accessories, or parts, or for more information on our lease programs contact us at 1-800-824-7709 or e-mail us at