Air-Excavation Trucks Reduce Contractor’s Expenses

Bradley Tanks Inc. has found air excavation comparable to hydroexcavation but with the added benefit of cutting down on spoil hauling and disposal costs

Air-Excavation Trucks Reduce Contractor’s Expenses

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When Bradley Tanks Inc. in Danville, California, bought its first Dino Series suction-excavation truck from Germany-based MTS GmbH, company officials were curious about how it would perform out in the field — especially compared to hydroexcavators.

The verdict: very comparable, says Kelly Graser, BTI’s director of compliance. The Dino trucks can typically excavate 30 to 50 cubic yards of material a day, which is in line with what a hydroexcavator can produce. The real difference comes in what Graser calls the “total cost of project ownership,” referring to the significant expenses associated with hauling and disposing of mud spoil that come with hydroexcavators. The Dino’s dry spoil can be reused on site.

As an example, Graser cites a project in California’s Central Valley in 2018 where a Dino worked for eight months exposing all the underground infrastructure at a utility station undergoing a rebuild.

“It was a maze of pipes ranging from 12 to 48 inches in diameter,” she says. “And because there was no mechanical digging allowed, the Dino was exactly what the client needed.” 

One Dino worked at the site five days a week, excavating about 50 cubic yards a day. After eight months, the Dino had produced 1,700 cubic yards of excavated material.

“And 100% of it was reused on site,” Graser says. “The client was very happy about that.”

Being able to reuse the spoil saved the customer about $150,000 in materials-import, transportation and disposal costs.

“Because the project was so remotely located, the ability to use that native material on site was significant,” Graser says. “There was no nearby facility to accept spoil for disposal nor was there a nearby quarry that could supply new backfill material.”

The type of soil that’s being excavated affects productivity, however. Hardpan clay, for instance will slow down a Dino the same way it would dampen a hydroexcavator’s productivity. But just as hydroexcavators use different water nozzles for dealing with different soil conditions, the Dino’s various tool attachments come into play, Graser says.

“The Dino can also handle wet material,” she says. “It can excavate in wet soil and suck up water, as well as gravel and cobble. I call it the world’s largest shop vac. That’s how versatile it is.”

Read more about Bradley Tanks Inc. and its fleet of Dino trucks in the July 2019 issue of Dig Different magazine.


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