Over the last several years, the hydro excavation industry in Ontario has encountered significant challenges. Despite increased competition and an uncertain and changing regulatory framework in which it operates, Super Sucker Hydro Vac Services Inc. has continued to grow and innovate.
Since its start in 2001 with one hydro excavation unit, the Ontario-based operation, has stayed on the leading edge of the industry, significantly expanded its entire fleet and now operates several facilities across Southern Ontario.
With its integration of complementary service divisions with vacuum excavation, Super Sucker has transitioned to becoming a total service provider of choice. With 15 years of continued growth and expansion comes a wealth of experience and knowledge. The team at Super Sucker is not only a preferred excavator for standard daylighting and pole hole applications, they are often requested to resolve unique and interesting situations utilizing their extensive body of knowledge and expertise, as well as their varied fleet of equipment.
Recently, a client who was faced with a dire situation contacted Super Sucker. Water flow from a weekend rainfall had caused significant sediment deposits within the foundation forms of a new hi-rise condominium tower.
This granular material needed to be removed quickly to avoid compromising the integrity of the impending concrete pour and to keep project timelines on track. The team faced several challenges including a dense urban environment with limited access to the overall worksite, such that any equipment needed to be located approximately 18 m away from the actual extraction site. Additionally, the foundation where the sediment was located was approximately 18 m below grade and included an extensive rebar cage more than 1 m thick.
In response to this request, Ryan Wolski, a Super Sucker project manager with more than 12 years of hydro excavation experience, immediately mobilized and met with the client for a site assessment.
With a complete understanding of the scope of work and site restrictions, the project manager was able to draw on his expertise to develop a comprehensive work plan to resolve the situation safely and quickly. Coordinating through the Super Sucker central dispatch system, a Super Vac HT 6400 truck with a trained two-person crew was mobilized to the site with all the required tools and documentation. Additionally, a support vehicle and crew with approximately 61 m of a smaller gauge corrugated hose was dispatched to facilitate vacuum extraction from the adjacent roadway. Hard dig tubes, of a smaller diameter than regularly used in standard hydro vac excavation, allowed the operators to work between the rebar. Sizing of both the hose and dig tubes was calculated based on material volume and weight, factoring distance and elevation, to ensure work site safety and maximize productivity.
Using a fan tip nozzle, pressurized water moved the sediment from between the rebar to the vacuum tube for extraction. The extracted material was then removed from the site for disposal per environmental regulations. Within six hours, the site was restored and the project could proceed to the next phase, much to the satisfaction of the client.
Trading Water for Air
To continue to provide the very best solutions to the industry, and to complement their extensive fleet of hydro excavation equipment, Super Sucker recently invested in suction excavation equipment, from Ox Equipment, the North American distributor for MTS Suction Systems in Germany. The trucks rely on air to excavate and extract material without the addition of water and have been in operation since early 2016.
Built to specification on a North American vehicle chassis, these suction excavators allow Super Sucker to take advantage of proven European suction excavation innovation and design, while remaining consistent with a familiar North American vehicle for ease of operation and integration with the existing in-house fleet maintenance programs and procedures. Equipped with patented twin-fan technology, capable of generating 24,000 cfm, and a five-joint Power Arm with a 10-in. dig tube, these suction excavators add a new dimension to their vacuum excavation division and to the industry in Ontario.
Suction excavators do not require water in the excavation process, allowing original, native, extracted material to be reused on site.
A recent job request required excavating around several buried utilities in a residential intersection adjacent to the downtown core of small city, to allow the client to install an upgraded sewer vent line connection. Using suction excavation maintained the required safe digging best practices near underground plant in consideration of both safety and damage prevention. Pressurized air and suction efficiently removed the material at the excavation site, and by not adding water to the excavation process, the area remained clean and dry facilitating a productive work area for the clients’ crew. The original backfilled material was left on site for reuse — all saving the client time and money, without compromising safety.
Super Sucker has also found suction excavation to be increasingly popular in a developing market relating to urban forestry policies and practices. Municipalities are increasingly affording greater protection to trees through the implementation and enforcement of detailed by-laws, including specific procedures, such as the establishment of Tree Protection Zones (TPZ).
Generally, approved excavation in and around these sensitive areas is required to be conducted under the supervision of a qualified and experienced arborist, and is restricted to hand digging, hydraulic (hydro) excavation or pneumatic (air) excavation. For hydro excavation, the water pressure must be low enough that root bark is not damaged or removed, which in turn has the consequence of increasing excavation times. As air-based vacuum excavation does not have this restriction, and with the ability to leave native excavated material on site, suction excavators are highly productive. The reach of the MegaArm and the ability to excavate with extended hoses (both air and vacuum), allows the suction excavator to be located away from the root zone so soil compaction, a leading cause of tree damage, is reduced. Feedback from clients, arborists and municipalities has been extremely positive.
With the addition of coring and reinstatement, backfill and concrete, as well as numerous support services, ranging from project management to the development of its proprietary Super Sleeve excavation security program, Super Sucker provides its clients with solutions for successful project completion from start to finish.