Posted on 5 February 2019

What is non-destructive digging?

Vac-U-Digga’s Non-destructive Digging Solutions

Vac-U-Digga's Non-destructive Digging Solutions

You’ve most certainly seen an excavation occur or perhaps even organised one, but do you know the difference between each method and terminology used?


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Excavation refers to the practice of digging a hole, typically on a construction or civil site. The practice is one of the fundamental activities seen on construction sites across the world. The act of excavation can be conducted by a variety of methods, where traditionally excavator plant and hand-held tools were used to excavate sites or dig down. A popular modern method of excavation is non-destructive digging, which notably mitigates line strike risk. But what exactly is non-destructive digging?


What is non-destructive digging?

Non-destructive digging (NDD) refers to a range of excavation methods that implore the use of pressurised air or water to break apart soil and dig down to a utility without the risk of striking or damaging the utility, with the added use of a vacuum suction to collect and store excavated material for disposal or reuse.

While in Australia it usually involves the use of radar and locating services, the term is generally used in reference to the actual excavation methods of hydro excavation, air excavation, and vacuum excavation. Non-destructive digging is widely accepted as the safest way to dig, where modern vacuum excavation is a fast, effective and affordable excavation alternative.


Who uses non-destructive digging?

Projects across Australia utilise non-destructive digging, in combination with utility locating services, to efficiently dig down and expose utilities and pipes with less risk of damaging or striking a utility than is typically associated with traditional excavation methods. The non-destructive digging method involves a vacuum truck, sucker truck, vactor truck, jet vac truck, or hydrovac truck, which is fitted with a vacuum tank (or two for hydro) and, depending on the truck type, fitted with jetting systems, either a pressurised air jet system or water jet system.

Over the years, we’ve been contracted by councils, mining companies, transport departments, telecommunication companies, and more to undertake an extensive amount of non-destructive digging in an effort to identify, expose and help repair damaged subsurface utility lines (like electricity, gas, communications, and water), get public services like water supply, gas and internet back online after an earthquake or storm, and even locate, expose and help remove decrepit utilities or railway tracks for road or transport upgrades, civil construction, and general subsurface utility maintenance.


Vacuum Excavation

What is vacuum excavation?

Vacuum excavation typically refers to hydro and air excavation, which use articulated vacuum trucks. While vacuum trucks are used in vacuum excavation they are also be used in waste management to collect sewage and waste to be transported and processed off-site. As such, vacuum excavation generally refers to excavation activities that use a vacuum suction mechanism (the core feature of a vacuum excavation truck) to suck up and collect excavated material, where pressurised hydro or air jets are used to break apart the soil that the vacuum then collects.

While vacuum excavation and hydro excavation work in a similar manner (with both using a vacuum system to suck up and collect excavated material), hydro excavation utilises a pressurised water jet to break up debris prior to suction. Hydro excavation produces a slurry waste as a result of using water, where this slurry can then be collected and processed through our Soil Transfer system to separate the slurry into reusable fill and water for use in future projects. On the other hand, air excavation is a less popular method involving a pressurised air rod to break apart soil with a vacuum suction system used to suck up and collect excavated soil.

If you’re are interested in booking, getting a quote, or finding out more information about our unique non-destructive digging, vacuum excavation, soil transfer, hydro excavation or waste management services give us a call on 0508 822834 for a chat with one of our professionals.

Contact Vac-U-Digga NZ today to arrange a personalised obligation-free quote.

Vac-U-Digga NZ is proud to be part of the Christchurch Rebuild Program and to be engaged on the delivery of the high-speed Ultra Fast Broadband and other major projects across New Zealand.

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