Canadian Underground Infrastructure Logo

Revised weight regulations in Ontario behind the design of new vacuum excavator truck

Revised weight regulations in Ontario behind the design of new vacuum excavator truck

Company info

1621 S. Illinois Street
Streator, IL
US, 61364

Website:
vactor.com

Read more

Regulations focused on various types of trucks and equipment in the province of Ontario have had a small loophole in them for quite some time – a fact discovered recently by the Provincial Government during a licensing review that was undertaken to raise fees on heavy commercial vehicles. For owners of vacuum excavators, the loss of that loophole may mean a loss of payload, which would mean a loss of efficiency. One long-standing Ontario dealer, Joe Johnson Equipment (JJE), took the concerns expressed by its customers straight to the manufacturer, Vactor Manufacturing, which has responded by developing a truck that can meet regulations both in Ontario and throughout other regions where operators face weight-limit challenges.

The problem with vacuum excavators, according to Patrick McGee, Eastern Canada Sales Manager for vacuum excavation at JJE, is that they fell into a grey area in Ontario government regulations. "It was pointed out to the Ontario government by the Ontario Trucking Association . . . that there was a class of vehicles that wasn't paying anything; hydro excavators, combination sewer cleaners, concrete pumpers and cranes were all exempt from licensing in Ontario," McGee said. "Nobody is exactly sure why, but it goes back at least 50 years in the books. Under the previous category, they were categorized as ‘roadbuilding machines' – the same as a wheel loader or a farm tractor. As such, they weren't subject to standard licensing requirements, tantamount to being exempt from weight restrictions and a host of other road safety and other regulatory requirements."

Licensing changes cost efficiency

Consultations with the government determined that changing the licensing requirements would also mean some significant changes for the vehicles themselves that would cut down on efficiency, McGee said. "One of the big things it was going to drive was a sizeable reduction in payload, which has a dramatic impact on the efficiency of these machines as they're going out to do their jobs," he described. "Instead of being able to stay on site and dig for six or eight hours, suddenly they were only going to be able to stay on site for four or five hours. You can imagine the chaos in what's probably the largest hydrovac market in Canada, and perhaps North America, where the equipment would essentially lose efficiency of 50 percent."

Those challenges would result in changing the way the weight distribution had to be approached on these types of machines. The implementation of new regulations in July 2017 led JJE to bring the issue up with Vactor, a manufacturer of vacuum excavators that JJE has partnered with for over two decades. Based in the U.S., Vactor has had to deal with varying state laws involving truck weight and axle loading. According to Vactor product manager Ben Schmitt, there was interest in investigating the new situation in Ontario to support the industry in the province.

"We have a pretty good market share there; it's a significant part of our business, which increased the urgency of doing something," Schmitt said. "We wanted to understand what was happening in Ontario, and what challenges our customers have in the other regions of North America that we support." Schmitt and the JJE team started a consultation process with customers, both in Ontario and elsewhere. "I went through and visited customers in all of these regions, and brought their feedback to our engineering department. We asked ‘what are your challenges, what do we need to address, and how are we going to do that?'" Schmitt said.

Vactor has a deep R&D process. Their engineers went through the customer concerns and produced a number of concept ideas, which were then presented to the customers for further fine tuning. Once that was done, the Vactor engineers went to work. At September's ICUEE trade show in Louisville, Kentucky, Vactor displayed the results of that work: a concept truck that is intended to be a jumping-off point to meeting the many different weight management requirements in different regions.

"We have two trucks – one is built specifically for Ontario, and one for everywhere else," Schmitt said. "We're now taking the trucks back to the customers, getting more feedback as we continue these trials, and our engineering department is in the stages of preparing it for manufacturing." The challenge with vacuum excavators is that the weight is not static – it moves around in the vehicle's water tank and debris body. As the machine does its job, that weight can shift depending on the work being done.

"You start the job with a full water tank, so wherever the water tank is located is where the weight on the chassis falls," Schmitt said. "So, you may be at your legal limit on your front axle, with say 20,000 pounds from a full tank of water. As you use that water, the weight decreases in that area, and goes onto the debris body. If you look at any manufacturer out there, the centre lines of the water tank and debris body are in different spots. As the weight is shifting, it's moving throughout the chassis – you never optimize it. We paid strict attention to this reality in the product redesign."

Another issue that was identified is that as the water is used, and spoils are vacuumed into the debris body, the water's weight is a known quantity but the debris being picked up by the truck is not, Schmitt noted. "You know how much water weighs, but you don't know if they're finishing the job with 100 gallons or 1,200 gallons. You don't know where to put that to maximize it, and you don't know how heavy the debris is they're loading – it could be 10 pounds a gallon or 20, or more," he said. "So what we did is said ‘okay, these are two variables we can't control – so what if we put them in the same spot? Then we know the variability of weight on the chassis is in that spot.'" 

Making the most of axle capacity

Vactor's engineers determined the precise spot on the chassis of the company's popular HXX vacuum excavator to place the debris body so that, when the front axle reaches its maximum weight capacity, the rear axle is also at its maximum. The idea, Schmitt explained, is to have the axles reach their maximum capacity at the same time.

"Let's say a chassis can have 20,000 pounds on the front axle, and you can have 34,000 pounds on a group of two . . . with today's designs. When you're at 34,000 on the rear, you're only at 16,000 or 17,000 on the front – so you're losing that 3,000 pounds of capacity," he said. "What this new design allows us to do is reach those at the same time, so you're getting the maximum legal load capacity."

In addition, Vactor has taken this opportunity to make a few other adjustments to the truck design, responding to feedback from years of working with customers in the market. 
"Weight was our number one goal. But we've got years and years of feedback on our current product so some additional enhancements were in order," he said.
 The truck's boom was an area that many customers wanted to see adjusted. As the part of the truck that's used every time they dig, customers had many thoughts on how to make improvements.

"Every customer is using the boom all day, so being able to reach as much as they can, being able to dig deeper holes and reach farther from the truck with it is key for them," Schmitt said. "One of our goals was to increase that boom, so we went from a 21-foot reach to 27 feet – 6 feet farther. Plus, we gave them two more feet of boom movement in and out . . . they've got a more full working range around the equipment."

"Reduced setup and teardown time at each jobsite are benefits of that wider working range. Normally, a vacuum truck may have to move several times to dig a particular set of holes, which means downtime and lost productivity. A longer boom means less time doing resets and more holes per location," Schmitt said.

"We did a lot with the ergonomics of the equipment so everything is in a better spot for the operator, and then added a lot more reliability and service features as well," he said. "We're also introducing a new water pump on this product."

The concept truck was on display at ICUEE as a way to encourage more feedback before Vactor continued toward completion of the new vehicles, Schmitt said. Response at the show was strong, and according to McGee, customers back home also responded to the updates on the HXX.

"Customers were excited to be part of the process of developing what would be their next generation of equipment, and to see the finished product," McGee said. "Seeing the finished product, they were able to pick out the things that they had provided feedback about. Not everything made it onto the truck, but collating those ideas led Vactor engineering to a lot of new ideas and how they can approach it." 

More from Water & Sewer Rehabilitation

HammerHead brings fast-curing CIPP technology to North America

HammerHead Trenchless, a Charles Machine Works Company, has announced its exclusive Bluelight™ LED system is now available in North America. Already proven in Europe and Russia, the Bluelight system is a Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) lining system that cures up to five times faster than conventional methods. Made for laterals and small sewer pipes 4 to 10" in diameter, this exclusive technology greatly reduces the time installers must wait for a liner to cure, allowing them to complete jobs more quickly.

New, low-profile Ditch Witch HX vacuum excavators enhance performance on compact and large-scale jobs

Ditch Witch has released a new, advanced lineup of vacuum excavators to boost operator productivity and versatility on municipality and underground construction jobs. The new HX-Series models feature innovative and patent-pending designs that meet the diverse and evolving customer needs on a range of applications - from compact, urban projects to large-scale excavation, potholing, slot trenching and microtrenching applications.

Cusco introduces new sewer jetter

Truck-mounted vacuum manufacturer Cusco has introduced a new Sewer Jetter. Designed with versatility and durability in mind, the new Cusco Sewer Jetter is a reliable and rugged vacuum truck that will allow municipalities and contractors to handle sewer and water line maintenance with ease and efficiency.

Westech Wolf Hydrovac

The Westech Wolf non-code certified hydrovac truck is ideal for oil and gas customers working in extreme conditions. The debris body is positioned on the optimal spot of the chassis to ensure the payload is proportionately distributed across all axles simultaneously, maximizing legal payload for customers and improving operational efficiency. The side-mounted water tanks reduce the weight by more than 40 percent, lowering the overall cost of the truck. The 1,500-gallon capacity ensures ample water storage capacity for large or remote jobs. A top-mounted "no-touch" water fill system is easily accessible from the passenger side of the vehicle. The debris body is lifted using a telescoping, dual-acting hydraulic cylinder capable of 36,000 pounds of force. When fully extended, the debris body exceeds a 45-degree dump angle for fast and efficient offloading. To help the offloading process, a heavy-duty, hydraulically powered tank vibrator is mounted to the belly of the debris body. A standard splash shield has been fitted to the rear of the unit to direct the offloading debris.

Insituform Partners with Canadian Universities to Advance Water Main Renovation and Design

Potable water pipes in North America are aged and steadily deteriorating, often resulting in poor quality tap water and high utility bills to compensate for the additional costs of trying to maintain failing pipes. Water pipe issues must be properly investigated to find a suitable resolution to help reduce the infrastructure backlog affecting water utilities across Canada and other parts of North America.

Vactor Showcases Next-Generation HXX Vacuum Excavator Concept at 2017 ICUEE

Vactor Manufacturing has unveiled the successor to the legendary Vactor HXX vacuum excavator at the 2017 International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) Show October 3-5, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. The concept vacuum excavation truck makes its first public appearance at Vactor's outdoor exhibit (K381) at the Kentucky Exposition Center. "The new HXX concept showcases our latest design thinking in terms of improvements in payload capacity, weight distribution, operation and performance," said Ben Schmitt, product manager at Vactor Manufacturing. "Our goal in previewing this HXX concept at ICUEE is to gain feedback from customers and other industry professionals before launching the next generation of this truck."

Improved weight distribution

Ring-O-Matic introduces largest-capacity PTO vacuum excavator

Ring-O-Matic's has launched its largest-capacity PTO-driven vacuum-excavator system at  ICUEE 2017. The 1300 VXT Extreme/PTO is an ideal vacuum-excavator solution for utility construction, horizontal directional drilling support and mud management, vacuum excavation and daylighting operations preferring a single-engine configuration. The mechanical PTO option offers the benefits of single-engine emissions compliance and single-engine maintenance and a shorter chassis rig with 1,300 gallon spoil capacity.

free-paper-airplane

Get our newsletter

Learn more

McLaughlin Adds New PTO-driven Options to MEGA VAC Line

The Vermeer MEGA VAC VXT truck series by McLaughlin is a highly productive vacuum excavator designed to meet increasingly strict weight restrictions and regulations. Ideal for utility and distribution contractors, the VXT Series is a reliable, cost-effective solution for high-production potholing crews. The new 6-inch (15.2 cm) PTO-driven series comes in three standard spoil capacities ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 gallons (4542.5 to 7570.8 L). The VXT series is powered by the industry-proven OMSI Gearbox and a ROOTS 3200 CFM (91 m3/min) blower. The new CAN Control system allows for two-way communication between the remote control and the vacuum excavator, which helps contractors increase jobsite productivity. The new Vacuum Neutral feature allows the blower to breathe free air and stop suction without the need to close the hydraulic gate valve in the boom.

Customizable Truck-Mounted Vac With Compact Footprint and Proven Performance

The new ECO Series from Vermeer answers the utility market’s demand for a compact truck-mounted vacuum excavation system with a focus on improved performance and fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance. The 4-inch (10.2 cm) line of ECO truck vacuum excavators uses properly sized engines to power components and reduces excess fuel consumption. The Tier 4 – ­­compliant 49-horsepower (36.5 kW) Kubota “sips” fuel at 2.75 gallons (10.4 L) per hour, providing significant operating cost savings when compared to powering a 4-inch (10.2 cm) system off of a 270-horsepower (201 kW) truck engine. The ECO Series can be powered by Kubota 49-, 85- or 99-horsepower (36.5, 63.4, 73.8 kW) auxiliary engines and matched with 500- to 1200-gallon (1892.7 to 4542.5 L) spoil tank capacities, which can be mounted on a new or used truck chassis, and off-road carrier chassis for access to difficult projects. www.mclaughlinunderground.com

Dewatering pumps help reconstruct Galveston

When dealing with a construction site that is underwater or where the water table is just above sea level, contractors have to insure that the excavation stays dry and safe for workers. This can be extra challenging where you have conditions affected by water depth and conditions such as silt and sand. Additionally, these conditions may vary based on seasonal weather or tides. It is extremely important to have contractors who have investigated historical data and who monitor fluctuations in water levels and speeds of flow, thereby decreasing risks to workers and the success of the project.

Regular replacement governs Kitchener’s underground program

The city of Kitchener, located in the Waterloo region of southern Ontario, has a population of just under a quarter million. Kitchener’s history dates back to 1784, when land was given to the Six Nations by the British as a gift for their allegiance during the American Revolution. Originally called Berlin, the name was changed to Kitchener in 1916, after Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, who died that year while serving as the Secretary of State for War of the United Kingdom.

4 key elements to maintaining your sewer infrastructure: Clean, inspect, assess and repair

Let’s face it, sewers are susceptible to wear and tear just like any other infrastructure. Although not visible from the surface, pipelines are prone to deterioration from both the inside and out. To minimize costly overhead, it’s important to maintain your sewer systems. There are four key factors to keeping your infrastructure operating at optimum efficiency.

free-magazine-subscription

Get Our Magazine

Paper or Digital delivered monthly to you

Subscribe or Renew Learn more

VAC-A-TEE TRENCHLESS CLEANOUT SYSTEM MEETS NEW NORTH AMERICAN STANDARDS

The VAC-A-TEE Trenchless Cleanout System now meets the newly published ASTM F3097-15 Standard. ASTM Standards are used by specifying engineers in North America to provide guidelines that ensure the optimum results for a given product or procedure. These standards are often adopted into project specifications to describe installation methods, materials, testing procedures, and a minimum level of quality for products and a specific scope of work.

LMK Technologies Announces Newest ASTM Standard for Vacuum Excavated Cleanout

LMK Technologies’ VAC-A-TEE Trenchless Cleanout System now meets the newly published ASTM F3097-15 Standard. ASTM Standards are an instrumental tool used by specifying engineers throughout North America to provide guidelines that ensure the optimum results for a given product or procedure. These standards are often adopted into project specifications for the purpose of describing installation methods, materials, testing procedures, and a minimum level of quality for products and a specific scope of work.

Hayward Sewer Repair Experts at Evenflow Trenchless Announce Guidelines for Avoiding Ebola Contamination from Sewage Exposure

Hayward sewer repair and replacement plumbers at Evenflow Trenchless are experts when it comes to following the proper procedures to not spread diseases from raw sewage exposure. "Whether it's Ebola or Enterovirus people often forget that these diseases as well as other pathogens can be transmitted through exposure to raw sewage," says Gary of Evenflow Trenchless. "We follow procedures to make sure that we don't track any traces of raw sewage into your home when we are performing trenchless sewer replacement services."

free-paper-airplane

Get our newsletter

Learn more