As infrastructure growth continues to surge, many construction managers face the challenge of building around power lines, gas pipelines and other sensitive utility sites. The proper assessment of site conditions is critical to protecting workers and preventing setbacks, such as OSHA violations, line damage, costly project delays, trench cave-ins or environmental damage. It’s crucial to have solutions you can rely on to keep your team safe, reduce project costs and ensure a more efficient timeline.

Thankfully, there is a turn-key solution for the mid-Atlantic region. ERC offers Air Lance Excavation, a non-mechanical and non-destructive way to safely expose and identify buried utilities. The process even allows you to identify the exact depth of a utility. This practice can virtually eliminate accidental line damage and trench cave-in.

When you partner with ERC, you’ll have the benefit of a trusted solution and dependable equipment to help create a safer, more efficient worksite. Our air lance excavation services empower your team to handle complex jobs while reducing risk and optimizing project work. Whatever your specific requirements and applications, our team can work with you to create the best solutions for your needs. We’ll help handle complex work at the job site and maximize safety throughout operations.

What Is Air Lance Excavation?

ERC Air Lance Excavation equipment uses compressed air to produce a high-speed jet to break up the soil, aiding in rapid digging. It is paired with a powerful vacuum that simultaneously removes soil, gravel, sand, and small rocks from the dig site. Our equipment is well-maintained and uses trusted technology to ensure optimized safety and efficiency at your job site.

Everybody of soil contains small cracks, and the air lance works to push into those microscopic crevices. The air is supersonic, disrupting the ground so the vacuum can remove it more effectively. As they quickly loosen the packed earth, vacuum excavators can safely uncover the soil around critical utility sites. They work seamlessly with vacuum trucks to clear the excavated dirt around the site, creating a cleaner and more efficient excavation process for your team.

The equipment provides a safe alternative to traditional soil-excavation methods that may puncture or damage sensitive underground utilities. This excavation technology is often referred to as air vacuum excavation or air excavation. Air and hydro excavation may at times be simultaneously employed.

Benefits of ERC Air Lance Excavation Services

ERC vacuum truck solutions can provide several advantages for working around utility lines and other applications. As a more efficient solution for uncovering underground lines, it helps protect the soil, keeps crews safer at the job site, and delivers a wide range of operational benefits.

With ERC air lance excavation services, our team will work with you to address your specific applications. Our services include our optimized, reliable equipment and expert operation at your work site. We can handle complex projects and quickly and safely identify utility lines running underground. We can also uncover critical systems your teams may need to access.

When you partner with us, you’ll gain the benefits of:

  • Versatile applications: This equipment is ideal for small diameter, deep excavation projects/jobs, and trenches where large excavation equipment may not be safe or practical.
  • Environmentally sound solution: Because this highly efficient solution uses less water, it’s a more environmentally sound and economical alternative to the more expensive hydro excavation, which utilizes up to 8-10 gallons of water per minute.
  • Minimal pollution: The air lance excavation solution eliminates pollution potential caused by hydro excavation runoff.
  • Minimal cleanup requirements: More efficient and eco-friendly, this system eliminates the time-consuming cleanup process and costly removal of mud generated by hydro excavation.
  • Increased utility line protection: Air lance excavation helps protect utility lines, especially live ones, from damage by hand or machine excavation.
  • Increased soil reuse: When teams implement air lance excavation equipment, the process allows the soil to be reused after the excavation process.
  • Better precision: The air lance equipment’s optimized performance provides precise operating for safer and more accurate results.

Example Applications of Air Lance Excavation

Example Applications of Air Lance Excavation

Air lance excavation is ideal for many applications. Workers can use this equipment for a wide range of needs, depending on their environment and project objectives. For various projects that require identifying, uncovering or removing underground utility lines and other systems, this equipment can provide safe and effective capabilities to handle the job.

Air Lance vacuum air excavation is ideal for applications such as:

  • Underground utility verification: For underground utility verification services, vacuum excavators can check to uncover underground systems and prepare for safe work around them.
  • Utility line service terminations: When handling line service terminations, our equipment can help uncover utility lines safely and efficiently.
  • Remote excavation (inside buildings): Managing remote excavations is simpler and safer with air lance excavation solutions.
  • Valve box and catch basin cleaning: Sensitive cleaning applications can be completed safely and efficiently with vacuum excavator and air lance solutions. They can apply the appropriate force needed for cleaning without damaging the equipment.
  • Plumbing applications: A wide range of underground plumbing systems can be identified or accessed as needed with an effective air lance solution.
  • Clearing environmental boring holes: Air lance excavation allows for easier and safer boring holes clearing.
  • General pre-job surveying: Various surveying applications are fast and safe with air lance excavator capabilities.
  • Soil cleanup and removal: Our equipment can provide seamless soil cleanup and removal solutions while protecting underground systems.
  • Landscaping: Various landscaping applications can use air lance excavators to dig and shape soil safely and efficiently.
  • Daylighting utilities: With vacuum excavators, daylighting utilities are easier to manage safely.
  • Clearing culverts: The efficient but controlled power of our air vacuum is ideal for clearing culverts as needed.

Is Air Lance Excavation Suitable for My Soil Type?

OSHA designations on soil conditions can impact how effective air lancing will be. Consequently, it’s important to evaluate the specific soil type you’re working with if you’re considering getting air lance excavation during your project. The soil type will help you determine if it’s best to opt for hot water excavation versus air lance excavation.

OSHA lists several primary soil types:

  • Stable Rock: As a natural solid mineral matter, stable rock is commonly granite or sandstone. This type of soil can remain intact even while being exposed during excavation.
  • Cohesive Soil Type A: Type A soils include clay, silt, clay loam, sandy clay and other similar variations. This type of soil is the most stable to excavate.
  • Cohesive Soil Type B: Ranging from silt loam to angular gravel, this type of granular cohesive soil can also be exacted, but not as easily as Type A.
  • Cohesive Soil Type C: Type C soil is the least stable and includes granular soil such as sand or gravel. It may also include submerged soil. The presence of more water in the soil decreases overall stability.

If you’re deciding which excavation method is best for your applications, keep in mind that hydro excavation is best for more aggressive soil types, while air lance excavation works best for looser soil. Soils that are heavily compacted or full of rocks may require hydro excavation. Meanwhile, air lance excavation is ideal for more loosely compacted soils, as it can easily break apart the soil and vacuum up loose debris.

Case Study

ERC’s Air Lance Excavation equipment has been benefitting Pennsylvania and Maryland businesses for years. In one instance, Air Lance Excavation equipment safely uncovered a total of seven unmarked, unidentified lines for a major Pennsylvania utility company. ERC removed 10,300 cubic feet of material for the project around main gas lines at an active natural gas-fired power plant.

“The equipment and personnel provided by ERC were by far the most efficient and professional we’ve worked with. The project was very difficult, with excavation around active gas mains and sanitary sewer lines, ERC adhered to all personal protective and safety requirements, and finished the dig ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Kevin John, General Manager of EnviroAir Technologies.

ERC was able to address this operational need and provide a trusted solution that matched the company’s applications. Our equipment helped to safely and efficiently uncover underground lines, keeping the on-site team safe and helping them get the job done more effectively. The vacuum excavators and air lance solutions we offered helped streamline a complex project for the company.

Contact ERC for Air Excavation Services

Contact ERC for Air Excavation Services

Air Lance Excavation is one of many ways ERC honors our company’s commitment to provide turn-key, environmentally sound waste management solutions using the latest technologies to help our customers meet their sustainability goals. As a full-service environmental company, we can manage a range of requirements for cleaner, more efficient processes at your work site. We’re here to meet your sustainability needs in any way we can through industry expertise and innovative solutions.

Whatever your requirements, we can partner with you to address crucial needs and find the right solutions for your applications. To learn more about our air excavation services, explore our service page or reach out to us today.