Demo Success Launches MTS Vacuum Excavation in Ireland

U Mole (part of the Groundforce division of Vp plc) recently undertook a week of demonstration projects involving the use of an MTS DINO 3 Vacuum Excavation system in Northern Ireland.

The demonstrations were presented to Dunnes Drilling Services Ltd., which started in the drilling business in 1963 with its first cable tool rig. Today, Dunnes operates four air rotary drilling rigs in its water well division, which is managed by Brendan Dunne while Pat Dunne oversees the trenchless installations division which operates three directional drilling rigs, as well as pipe ramming, pipe bursting, guided auger boring and rock drilling equipment.

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The Northern Ireland demonstration projects were undertaken on works being completed for McNicholas Construction/Phoenix Gas in and around Belfast and Lisburn. The MTS DINO3 unit used for the works operated a twin 900-mm fan system producing 36,000 m3/hour (21,200 cfm) operating capacity and was fitted with a fully remote control Power Arm.

The demonstrations were completed over three days and encountered a wide range of ground conditions, which enabled Dunnes to fully assess the capability of the equipment in the area. In the three days, over 51 m3 of material was excavated with this being achieved in only seven hours of fan operation on the MTS unit.
Part of the demonstration works undertaken covered excavation on a 450-mm diameter intermediate pressure PE gas main in two locations in Lisburn. The first site comprised the removal of 12 m3 of spoil in an urban location around Prince William Road and Ballymacash, Lisburn. The soil removal took just two hours.

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The second site was Porters Bridge Road where some 17 m3 of spoil was removed in a rural road location in just three hours.

Other parts of the demonstration works over the week included:

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  • Open-trench works in an urban area on Benford Drive in Newtonards, an area with very compact stone/rocky ground where a 400-mm by 1,200-mm by 4-m long trench was excavated in around 1½ hours. The use of a lightweight breaker in the very rocky sections would have speeded up the operation in what was very difficult ground.
  • Excavation of a launch pit for HDD equipment was completed at a busy intersection in Belfast at the base of the M2 motorway on Duncrue Street. Here, the MTS unit assisted by a JCB with hydraulic breaker completed the excavation of two previous road surfaces and some 355 mm (14 in) of concrete beneath these. Once beneath these, the MTS unit continued to safely excavate down 2.5-m deep by 1.2-m wide by 3-m long trench in an area known to contain a deep HV cable. The ground once cleared of infill typically comprised the sandy clay of the area.

Throughout the demonstration period, the worksites provided generally positive feedback indicating the acceptance the vacuum excavation technique during the MTS works.

After a week of demonstrations Pat Dunne was so happy with the system that he decided to purchase the demo unit saying: “The demonstrations projects were very impressive. The work rate of the machines was high and the ability of the unit to excavate safely, quickly and efficiently without damage to existing services was an eye-opener. We felt we could not let the machine go back to England as we still had a lot more work of similar type to complete. It is nice to think that we are currently the first and only users of this machine type in Ireland.”

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Commenting on the sale of the MTS unit to Dunnes, Frank Gowdy, sales director for U Mole said: “Even though you might expect me to say this, we were not surprised that Dunnes took a shine to the MTS Vacuum Excavator during the demonstration period. The machine’s capacity to move large amounts of soil in a short time whilst eliminating local spoil storage requirements and minimizing disruption to the work locality, local traffic and the general public is something we have always strived to promote and in instances like this the abilities of the MTS machine tend to speak for themselves. We look forward to further assisting Dunnes with our MTS equipment on the streets of Northern Ireland in the future.”


The DINO 3 unit demonstrated in Ireland is just one of the MTS family of vacuum excavation systems distributed in the UK by U Mole. The range as a whole comprises the DINO 2, the DINO 3 and the DINO 4 models (the model number indicates the number of axles on each unit). Each model is available in a standard and ‘MEGA’ version with single or double vacuum generation turbines respectively. Each of the standard and MEGA model units is designed around the same chassis with the DINO 2 and DINO 2 MEGA being a two axle rig weighing 18 t, the DINO 3 and DINO 3 MEGA having 3 axles and weighing 26 t and the DINO 4 and DINO 4 MEGA having 4 axles and weighing 32 t and 40 t.

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As well as these ‘standard’ models, U Mole also offers the MTS DINO 4 MEGA VAC. This is a high power (400 kW) system that is designed specifically for the more arduous tasks sometime required of vacuum excavation systems, such as removal of heavier spoils or work at greater depths in larger sewers.

While having the capacity to operate in a wide variety of ground conditions from clays through gravels to made-up ground, the MTS range is ideal for both wet and dry material. The standard units offer: a high maintainable suction from 25,000 m3/hour up to 36,000 m3/hour air volume, generated by 110 kW and 220 kW turbine systems respectively; up to 50 percent vacuum of between 17,000 and 34,000 Pa negative pressure; low noise levels (<82 db); large spoil capacity of up to 12 m3; side tipping capability to road or verge or directly into a skip; a dust free exhaust; and an on board air compressor. The robust proven technology also enables excavation work to be completed up to 12 times faster than using hand dig, using a remote control boom arm and a capacity to remove stones of up to 250 mm (10 in) diameter. Each rig also comes with a full range of air tooling.

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All the MTS units feature a patented air flow, filter and fan configuration that enables the vacuum generating turbines to operate at some 20 percent higher efficiency than other systems currently available on the market. They also require a relatively small footprint for successful operation.

While the standard design uses a side tipping configuration for the spoil tank, MTS also has the capacity to manufacture to client specifications on request. MTS can also supply and fit DINO equipment to a range of chassis’ from 7.5 t up to 40 t from various manufacturers.

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U Mole also supply a full and extensive range of trenchless equipment including impact moles (earth piercing tools), pipe ramming hammers, static rod pipe bursting systems and portable cable-based hydraulic pipe bursters.

Other trenchless related equipment available includes market leading Robbins SBU equipment, Pipe trailers, fusion systems, Reed Tools and a complete range of accessories such as Cobra flexible rodding, towing heads, cable socks, pipe pigs, swivels, breakaway connectors etc.

Limited dig equipment includes: suction/vacuum excavation systems and surface coring equipment for the ‘Keyhole’ excavation of utilities and services with minimum disruption to the local area and minimum damage to the buried service.

This article was submitted by U Mole.

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