The vacuum truck is a highly specialised and sophisticated piece of machinery and it is therefore imperative that companies building them have all the processes and procedures down pat.
This certainly appears to be the case with Vacvator, a privately-owned Goulburn (NSW) based business that has solely engaged in vacuum truck manufacture since its formation in 2006.
When Diesel Workshop visited the company, General Manager, Denis Walker, and Director, Andrew Rowlands, were preparing to travel to Munich for the Bauma Trade Show to suss out the latest developments in vacuum truck design that could be applicable to our local market.
“Back in the early days of the business we fitted our vacuum bodies and equipment to a variety of trucks including new and used units,” says Denis. “As we progressed, however, we soon recognised the need to increase efficiencies and provide our customers with trucks that were supremely reliable and that had a strong, broadly acknowledged reputation for excellence in the marketplace. We didn’t want to have to ‘sell’ the trucks to our customers.”
After evaluating a number of brands, including Japanese, European and North American, the company narrowed the field down to two popular Japanese marques, eventually electing to standardise on Hino.
“We decided on Hino because they’re a good solid reliable truck with the runs on the board in terms of reliability and durability,” Denis says, going on to explain that the company has put a lot of faith in Hino trucks to do the job well.
In fact, having designed the Vacvator bodies specifically for the Hino chassis, they can’t actually be fitted to other brands without significant modifications. As a rule, Denis adds, most customers are happy to run with Hino.
He also says the support and service from local Hino dealer Southern Trucks and from Hino’s Head Sales Engineer, Jeff Gibson, have been instrumental to Vacvator’s long-standing partnership with the brand.
Using Hino 500 Series trucks, Vacvator produces a range of units with tank capacities starting at 4,000 litres mounted to GH 1828 4×2 chassis, rising to an 8,000 litre capacity on FM 2632 6×4 units, the latter accounting for around 70 per cent of total production.
According to Andrew Rowlands, the popularity of the larger units has been driven by the relative scarcity of dumping facilities, meaning operators want the largest possible tank to minimise the time taken in travelling to the dump site.
Another issue with vacuum trucks is the noise they make when operating, and Andrew says this is something the company has worked hard to reduce, in the interests of satisfying EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) noise requirements, particularly in urban areas during the night. As a result, he says the Vacvator units work at well below the allowable noise limit.
In fact, compliance in general is a high priority for the company with careful consideration given to ensuring allowable axle weights are not exceeded.
“We use sophisticated software to precisely calculate the weight distribution and the Hino trucks are among the best in this respect because they have a relatively light steer axle weight compared to some other brands,” Denis explains. “With our finished products we aim to be within 100kg of the maximum allowable weight on each axle when the vehicle is fully loaded. We also install onboard weighing systems to each vehicle as a standard fitment.”
At this point Jeff Gibson, Hino’s Head Sales Engineer, joins the conversation and Denis points out that Jeff’s willingness to work with him over the past seven years has been instrumental in Vacvator achieving its desired goals in terms of product quality and user-friendliness.
“Our progress along the way has been heavily influenced by the support of Jeff and other experts within the Hino organisation,” Denis says. “We go by the book when building and fitting our equipment to the Hino chassis according to what the client requires. We are not interested in cutting corners.”
Jeff Gibson is quick to agree, affirming that Vacvator is one of Hino’s preferred body builders because the company is committed to a high standard in workmanship across all areas of its operations.
“Vacvator goes to the extra effort of following our body installation manual and consulting with us regularly to ensure the optimum outcome,” Jeff says. “Now that technology has increased so much, it’s vital that body builders are across what the truck can do and where to tap into power to ensure the various features on the truck aren’t compromised.”
All up, the end result of melding Vacvator’s high standards of engineering expertise with the Hino platform is a range of vacuum trucks built to stand the test of time. With regular maintenance and careful operation, Vacvator says these vehicles have the potential to provide an effective and trouble-free service life of up to 20 years.