Suction excavators

Suction excavators

The Balfour Beatty Suction Excavation team offers a quick, safe and efficient solution that is non-mechanically invasive.

Our 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 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.

Key Features

We currently operate two types of Suction Excavator; Semi-powered boom (Floppy arm) and Powered boom (Power arm):

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.

Power arm

The boom, made up of different sections that articulate under the control of four hydraulic rams. The suction hose is connected the same 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 (bridge, roof work) or 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 ton.

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.

Our sectors and safety

Sectors of operation

  • Utilities
    • Gas
    • Water
    • Electricity and Communications

  • Major civils and construction projects
    • Foundation Digging
    • Survey Holes
    • Geological Survey Digs
    • Non Invasive under-pinning and associated piling projects

  • Road infrastructure
    • French drain renovation
    • De-silting
    • Sediment removal
    • Cable tracking and trench digging
    • Street lighting and furniture repair and re-placement

  • Rail infrastructure
    • Track
    • Drain
    • Tunnel cleaning and site housekeeping
    • Ballast removal
    • Construction waste removal
    • Under track crossing (UTX)
    • Tramway silt build up removal

  • Energy industry
    • Power station non-invasive digging
    • Oil refinery
    • Ground maintenance
    • Petro-chemical ground maintenance
    • Nuclear power station ground digging

  • Specialist
    • Archaeological digs
    • Tree root exposure
    • Culvert de-silting
    • Ditch clearance
    • Geotechnical survey
    • Heritage projects

Make safety personal

We have been instrumental in setting industry safety standards for suction excavators through creating Balfour Beatty product specification 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 clients 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 and that all of our drivers comply with EU driving regulations.

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

Contact us on: 0345 646 0013

  • Our core office hours are 08:00 – 17:30 (Monday – Friday)
  • Our response time is 24 hours.

Case study - Aberdeen Airport

Suction excavation at Aberdeen Airport

The Suction Excavation team has been involved in a number of specialist projects which have required a unique approach. One such project was the main terminal building at Aberdeen Airport.

On this project the on-site team had the task of replacing the roof insulation on the building, however in order to achieve this ballast stone had to be removed from the entire roof surface area. To highlight the magnitude of this task, the roof surface area was approximately 120 x 60m.

The project team had originally estimated that this work would take eight to nine weeks if conducted manually; using a Suction Excavator, the work was completed in nine days, representing an 80% reduction in the projected work time, helping to highlight the productivity benefits of utilising suction excavation.

The work was carried out using a powered boom arm suction excavator. The machine was placed within close proximity to the building and a single 3m plastic extension pipe was attached to the suction hose. The operator then used the hydraulic rams to manoeuvre the boom (with extension pipe) to roof height. Further flexible extension pipes were then utilised to extend the suction hose further to the required length. In addition to this a 250mm to 150mm adapter was used to reduce the diameter of the hose and allow for manual manipulation of the hose by the operator more easily.

The team also utilised a sack trolley to manoeuvre the hose quickly and effectively, helping to minimise the amount of manual handling given the large surface area to cover.

The Team

Our team all have operational experience that helps in making informed judgements promoting safety and efficiency. All of our site briefings, audits, site surveys and customer advice is provided by our team of supervisors.

To ensure our people are the best in the industry, our operators attend the Site Manager Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) training. This ensures we can always provide a competent operator who is trained to supervisory level. We currently employ a buddy system whereby we mandate Suction Excavators are manned by two operators, minimising lone working and improving fatigue management.