Taking full advantage of the power and flexibility of hydraulic and vacuum systems, Vermeer Corp., Pella, Iowa, introduced the innovative XR2 vacuum excavator at the ICUEE show in Louisville, Kentucky. In what company officials termed a “major breakthrough” in hydro-excavation technology for utility applications, the XR2 is the industry’s first vacuum excavator equipped with a shaker deck that separates liquids and solids and allows contractors to stay on the jobsite longer, work more efficiently and cut disposal expenses.
This new concept in vacuum excavation lets contractors carry 1,500 gal of water to the job and reduce hydro-excavator transport weights.Used slurry water is pumped into one of the four 500 gal holding tanks for disposal, while the separated solids can be reused on site or hauled away. Processed liquids are first pumped into the unit’s reserved empty tank and then automatically switched to another tank as the freshwater supply is depleted and the reserve tanks fill up. The tanks are designed with sloped bottoms, so slurry can be efficiently pumped out before freshwater is replenished. Fresh and dirty water tank levels can be viewed anytime from the control station located on the side of the hydro-excavator.
Key systems include a full-hydraulic boom with a maximum reach of 252 in., horizontal travel of 84 in. and vertical travel at maximum reach of 120 in. The foldable, full-hydraulic conveyor has a maximum reach of 168 in., maximum discharge height of 80 in., with 180° rotation possible. An orbital hydraulic motor powers the double-deck shaker bed.
The XR2 can provide up to 150 minutes of water-jet wand time at a rate of 10 gpm. The adjustable pressure wand has a maximum output of 3,000 psi (207 bar) for challenging digging conditions but can be dialed back when working in sensitive areas.
The vacuum system provides 0.6 bar (18 in.-Hg) suction at a maximum 3,400 cfm for excavation. It includes a 6-in. diameter hose, and the 21-ft boom gives crews 260° of swing. A reverse flow feature with 5 psi (0.3 bar) reverse pressure lets workers dislodge large chunks of material from the hose.
For efficient truck repositioning, the design team integrated a unique hydraulic power takeoff (PTO) feature that automatically transitions power from the vacuum system to the truck drive system and back. Crews no longer need to manually disengage and reengage the system every time the vacuum excavator is moved.
Individual hydraulic and vacuum functions are networked via CANbus to the central controller, and the unit includes an electronic display with 7-in. screen. All of these functions can be controlled through the unit’s fully functional dual-joystick wireless remote.
According to Adam Bates, product manager at Vermeer, “Soft excavation methods are effective at reducing utility strikes, which have spurred the growth of the vacuum excavator market. However, DOT truck and trailer weight restrictions can impact the amount of material that crews can transport over the road, and the design of the XR2 helps teams get more hours of production.
“The XR2 was developed after listening to contractors about the limitations associated with traditional hydro-excavators,” he said. “Contractors understand the soft excavation advantages of hydro-excavators but also felt limited by the production of many units because of weight concerns and water storage capacities. The design of the XR2 can help expand the use of vacuum excavation for everything from utility potholing and stitch boring to slot trenching and general construction.”
The Vermeer XR2 vacuum excavator is built on the back of a Kenworth T8800 truck with an Allison automatic transmission and Chelsea PTO. It will be available in early 2020 in select regions.