Vermeer Puts Big Focus on Vacuum Excavation

Between introducing a new machine and making agreement announcements, Vermeer shows it’s fully invested in vacuum excavation.

Vermeer Puts Big Focus on Vacuum Excavation

In October, Vermeer unveiled its new Vermeer XR2 vacuum excavator. The unit combines the digging of a vacuum excavator with the ability to separate liquids from solids on the job.

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It’s been a big year for Vermeer, introducing a new vacuum excavator and new partnership agreements, all built to provide customers one-stop shopping for their utility construction needs.

For many years, vacuum excavators were being built through a partnership with McLaughlin and Vac-Tron Equipment. In 2017 and 2018, Vermeer acquired the two organizations and formed the Vermeer MV Solutions brand. 

One year later, at the 2019 International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition, ICUEE, Vermeer unveiled a brand-new concept in vacuum excavation — the Vermeer XR2 vacuum excavator. This new unit combines the digging performance of a truck vac with the ability to separate liquids from solids on the job site.

In 2020 at the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show, Vermeer announced a distribution agreement with Vacuum X-Traction Products (VXP) to supply a series of Vermeer-branded, high-capacity, truck-mounted vacuum excavators sold exclusively through Vermeer industrial dealers. 

This latest partnership caps off three years of many noteworthy events for the vacuum excavator market. To learn about what it all means, Adam Bates, Vermeer product manager, and Brian Showley, Vermeer MV Solutions sales director, took the time to answer a few questions on the topic.

Why is Vermeer so invested in vacuum excavation? 

Bates: Utility construction is a big part of our business, and vacuum excavators play a critical role in the installation process. Vacuum excavator usage continues to expand in an effort to help reduce utility strikes through potholing and to keep job sites clean during horizontal directional drilling. 

As our customers grow their use of vacuum excavators, they provide us with a lot of feedback. A good portion of it was about being able to stay on the job longer between trips to disposal sites. Based on that feedback, we created the XR2 vacuum excavator and expanded our line into larger-sized truck vacs. 

Showley: In the last four years alone, the vacuum excavator marketplace has grown by just over 94%. The growth in the marketplace can be attributed to more widespread usage in the utility industry, but also because vacuum excavators are being used in a much more extensive range of applications. To meet those needs, we needed to be able to deliver a full line of vacs from small trailer units up to large truck vacs. Contractors can now get whatever type of vacuum excavator they are looking for from their local Vermeer dealer. 

What’s the advantage of being able to acquire such a wide range of sizes and models through one dealership? 

Bates: From small utility drills to large pipeline rigs, our range of horizontal directional drilling equipment is extensive, and that’s what contractors expect when they work with a Vermeer dealership. We want to make sure they can get that same range of machines when it comes to vacuum excavation. Also, as a contractors’ needs change, they can still get what they need from one place. 

Showley: Utility contractors going into a Vermeer dealership are more than likely already familiar with the majority of our vacuum excavator equipment line. Those core products remain the same, but now our distribution arrangement is more aligned to make it easier for our dealers and customers to get the products they need. 

The addition of the VXT line and XR2 vacuum excavator gives contractors more purchase options from one place with the ability to get service at locations throughout the country. For crews that are traveling anywhere, knowing dealer support is close by is a big deal and something they can’t get with every brand of vac. 

Are there certain vacs that fit specific kinds of work? 

Bates: There are a lot of factors that weigh into the decision of choosing a vacuum excavator. The first consideration is what type of work they intend to use it for — potholing existing utilities, drilling fluid management support, municipal work, hydrotrenching or something else. Ground conditions and depth should be considered, as well as where they are working.

For example, if a contractor is looking for a vacuum excavator to pothole and support drilling crews in one community, they may want to consider getting a larger truck vac to minimize the number of disposal trips. However, if a contractor has several crews more spread out, one large truck vac may be less efficient than using a few trailer vacs that travel with each crew. 

Showley: In the past, many crews may have selected certain models and sizes of vacuum excavators to pair with their fleet of horizontal directional drills. More recently, though, they are mixing different types and sizes of vacuum excavators so they can optimize overall efficiency. They may have a vac team dedicated to potholing ahead of the drill; each of these crews may be using a different vac setup. I think we’ll see more of this as the XR2 makes its way into the market. 

What has been the industry’s reaction to the new models (XR2 and VXT500)?

Bates: We’ve had the XR2 at several trade shows now and in the field doing demos. The feedback we’ve received from contractors has been overwhelmingly positive. They are impressed by the XR2 vacuum excavator’s 1,500-gallon (5,678.1-liter) clean-water capacity, and they love the idea of being able to perform localized separation of solid and liquid materials.  

Showley: The VXT500 debuted at the WWETT Show, and we also had it in our CONEXPO-CON/AGG booth. At both shows, it was a hit. Our customers have told us they are thrilled to see Vermeer getting into the large truck vac market, and the product itself is first class. 

When will these new vacuum excavators be available for contractors? 

Bates: The VXT500 is making its way into dealer inventory right now, and the XR2 will be available later this year. 


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