Suction excavators

Suction excavators

Balfour Beatty's Suction Excavation team can offer a quick, safe and efficient solution that is non-mechanically invasive.

Our Suction Excavator fleet

Our high-specification fleet of machines help to eliminate service strikes and keep personnel in the surrounding area safe.

Our operated service utilises highly trained and experienced operators who conduct the work both safely and effectively. Our experienced office based team are always on hand to deal with any queries that you may have regarding our service.

Our fleet of suction excavators work across construction, civil engineering, utility and nuclear sector contracts. They help our customers to:

  • Avoid costly and dangerous service strikes and penalties
  • Reduce service pit dimensions
  • Reduce tipping charges
  • Reduce reinstatement costs
  • Reduce environmental damage
  • Have cleaner sites.

Contact: 

0345 646 0013 (Balfour Beatty Suction Excavators)

We currently operate two types of Suction Excavator

Semi-powered boom (Floppy arm)

The boom is utilised only as a support for the suction hose. The hose is attached to the skip lid and then lies on top of the boom. Brackets with plastic wear plates prevent the suction hose falling from the boom.

Operation of the boom is through a slew motor allowing 180⁰ movement across the rear of the vehicle. A hoist ram that allows the boom to be raised and lowered, plus an extension ram that allows the telescopic section of the boom to be extended and retracted.

The end of the suction hose hangs freely and no mechanical pressure can be applied to the ground with the suction nozzle, this mitigates the risk of a service strike. To date Balfour Beatty Suction Excavators have had no reported service strikes. 

Powered boom (Power arm)

The boom is made up of different sections that articulate under the control of four hydraulic rams. The suction hose is connected in the same way as the semi-powered boom, except that the live end is connected to the end of the boom frame.

This allows the operator complete remote control over all movements of the suction hose. Powered booms have an advantage when working at height (e.g on bridges or roof work) or in deep excavations.

Caution must be observed with powered booms to ensure pressure is not exerted through the hydraulic rams via the suction nozzle to the ground; this can be up to 2 tons.

The key technical features of our Suction Excavator fleet include:

  • Dual Fan 3,400m3 /hr @35,000Pa
  • Telescopic boom with hose support system allowing remote excavations up to 100m
  • Rear steer axle for improved site access
  • Debris container with maximum spoil capacity of 7m3 with side tip-to-skip or designated re-cycling area
  • Water container on board for service identification and site housekeeping
  • Full excavation tool kit
  • Built in air compressor
  • Fine filtration system with automatic cleaning to reduce particulate emissions
  • Special air exhaust sound silencer to reduce noise pollution
  • Any equipment used for suction excavation is made from non-conductive material to reduce the risk of electrocution.

Suction excavator sectors and safety information

Ideal sectors of operation

  • Utilities
  • Major civils and construction projects
  • Road infrastructure
  • Rail infrastructure
  • Energy industry

Making safety personal

Balfour Beatty has been instrumental in setting industry safety standards for suction excavators through creating our own product specifications and safe working practices.

Our standard specification for suction excavators represents the minimum technical standards that machines operating on Balfour Beatty sites must comply with. These are industry-leading specifications. Increasingly, more and more of our customers and peers are adopting them.

Our fleet of suction excavators operate under the 'Balfour Beatty Operators Licence' meaning they are fully compliant with all road transport compliance regulations. All of our drivers comply with EU driving regulations.

This ensures that our machine fleet is serviced and maintained as though it was a Heavy Good Vehicle, a far higher standard of road worthiness than if it were treated as a plant asset.

Minimum exclusion zones

The minimum extent of exclusion zones vary according to the type of underground utility and the Asset Owner. The Asset Owner must be contacted to confirm safety clearances and any additional requirements. The table below provides guidance on the minimum distances around underground utilities which must not be encroached by any plant or equipment.

Case Study - Suction excavators on the M2 Motorway

Suction Excavator M2

While working on the M2 motorway under Highways England's Area 4 contract, our Suction Excavator team’s task was to clear silt and debris from the drainage ditch to allow the free flow of rain water.

Balfour Beatty's London Transport-compliant 32 ton suction-excavator is  equipped with a floppy arm and remote driving and steering capability. The machine allows the team to complete excavation jobs safely and efficiently.

On this motorway task, the Suction Excavation team reached on-site productivity of 2-3km per shift with just two operators. The work, if conducted manually, would require up to 10 personnel to achieve an output of just 50m per shift. This provides a significant increase in productivity and cost saving.

Commenting on the project efficiencies, Steve Hoskisson, Specialist Plant Business Manager, said:
“This demonstrates the collaborative approach that the Suction Excavator team takes with customers to ensure a solution that meets their requirements. The team identified the expert capabilities within Balfour Beatty and how they could be used to meet the project's needs through conventional application and by adapting our capabilities”.