Vacuum excavation is typically used to expose live utilities under highways or footpaths safely and efficiently.
There are several benefits of vacuum excavation over more traditional excavation methods (such as a mini digger or shovel.)
Firstly and crucially, vacuum excavation presents a much lower chance of damage being caused to utilities as there is no mechanical interference to the ground.
It is also beneficial from a safety point of view, particularly when compared to a hand dig where there is a significantly increased risk of injury to operatives.
Vacuum excavation is also faster than more traditional methods. In normal conditions with buried pipes and cables, a manual dig would typically remove less than 1 cubic metre of material per 6 hours. Using vac-ex, up to 24 cubic metres of moderately heavy soil could be removed in the same time period. For this reason, vacuum excavation tends to be more cost effective than a hand dig.
Excavation site size can be reduced by up to a third compared to the use of a mini-digger, which makes vacuum excavation ideal for areas where space or access is an issue. Because the earth is collected in the vehicle (with up to 12 cubic metres of spoil tipped in a designated on site area), site cleanliness is also improved, which is particularly beneficial in public or heavy traffic areas.