There are many reasons why a rental yard would select a piece of equipment to be in their inventory. However, when considering all the equipment options available to them, a couple criteria consistently come to the surface. For starters, how often will the machine be out on rental? And secondly, how much maintenance, service, and parts are required to keep it working? Both criteria lead to the most important metric for rental store owners and managers: return on investment (ROI).
With that as a backdrop, it is no wonder vacuum excavators are becoming more popular choices in the rental industry. They are great machines for rental customers to consider, and for the reasons listed below, rental stores like them, too.
Historically, vacuum excavators have been used for horizontal directional drilling (HDD) support to help manage drilling fluids. As growing regulations and best practices have been implemented, vacuum excavators now go out ahead of crews to pothole existing utilities as a soft excavation practice to prevent damage. The machines also transport spoils from HDD jobsites to approved disposal sites. There won't be a better piece of equipment to keep drillers on the jobsite and making money. Their benefits in this arena are unquestioned, and as more and more HDD jobs are on the horizon and soft excavation becomes mandated, the use of the vacuum excavators will only increase.
However, we have been seeing customers come up with new and innovative ways to profitably use these machines. We’ve seen an uptick of usage in the landscaping and arborist industries. The vacuum excavators are being used to dig thin trenches for irrigation line installation and do it without leaving much evidence that they were even there. Additionally, arborists and tree care professionals can dig holes to plant the trees and breakup the surrounding soil to stimulate growth, all with the same machine.
People are using the vacuums to clean out manholes, vehicle wash pits, landscaping beds, parking garages, and nearly anything that’s been flooded with water, like basements, bathrooms, storm shelters, and even sand bunkers on golf courses. It truly is amazing to see where some of these machines end up working for people, and we love hearing about all the unique and one-off ways customers use vacuum excavators.
As versatile as vacuum excavators are for operators, they require minimal maintenance for rental stores. The main components of a vacuum excavator are the debris and fresh-water tanks, and there are very few wear parts.
A lot of the parts costs endured by rental stores are tied to ground-engaging parts. If used properly, the only ground-engaging part of a vacuum excavator should be the end of the suction tube, which is incredibly durable.
Equipment manufacturers are always considering functionality and serviceability improvements. Vacuum excavators are more often being equipped with features to boost ease of maintenance. Recently, Ditch Witch accomplished this by adding lift-off power pack doors for greater access to maintenance points. Also, improved filtration systems minimize filter cleaning frequency and increases component life.
Even the trailer configurations are designed for operator convenience and are extremely low maintenance. Vacuum excavator trailers are built to haul with full debris tanks, so they are sturdy and can handle the rigors of vacuum excavation work. But they maintain a simple maintenance process; rental owners and managers just need to remember to grease the axles as the only regular maintenance.
A growing list of uses with extremely low maintenance requirements for rental stores is a great combination for rental owners and managers. By helping customers understand that there are many, many ways vacuum excavators can be utilized, rental stores can keep the machines working and out on the job.
Whether it’s legislation that requires these machines to be on jobsites or their wide range of uses, vacuum excavators will help rental owners’ bottom line.