Right Equipment for the Job

In Hino, Top Truck, February 202210 MinutesBy Faye LougherFebruary 22, 2022

A tailor-made unit for a rather specialised application needs a reliable base, as demonstrated by Clarke Underground’s Hino 700 FY-3248 and HyperVax 14000 unit.

Clarke Underground Ltd (CUL) is a Manawatu-based contracting company providing underground utility installation services throughout New Zealand for the past 33 years. CUL’s areas of expertise include trenching, excavation works, cable installation, mole ploughing, directional drilling and hydro excavation. In 2021, CUL took ownership of his month’s Top Truck – the HyperVax 14000.

The Hino 700 Series FY-3248 8-wheeler features the ProShift 16-speed AMT, Jacobs brake, cruise control, GVM of 32,000kg and a Hendrickson tag axle – which was fitted to provide CUL with the perfect truck on which the HyperVax 14000 was built. To achieve the perfect relationship, Tony Pedley from Hino Trucks worked with CUL and Hamilton-based Cook & Galloway Engineers, which specialises in designing and manufacturing vacuum tank systems.The HyperVax was the result of several years of discussions between CUL general manager Gary Clarke and Cook & Galloway’s director Lloyd Alderwick. Lloyd explains that while he helped with the concept, it was really the experience of designer Colin Hawkins, working alongside workshop team leads Phil Miles and Hamish Barlow and their collective teamwork approach that enabled such a special machine to be developed. The whole company at one time or another worked on the unit. Both companies are extremely proud of the results.

Gary says CUL required a unit that could be an all-round versatile machine that had the combination of low or high adjustable-airflow capacity and high suction, along with robustness and ease of operation. Cook & Galloway designed and built the HyperVax over 12 months.

“It has an 8” hose and more suction than anything else we have. It’s also got more capacity to carry the spoils – we have about 12,000-litre capacity,” says Gary.

There is also the option of putting a vacuum trailer on the back end of the unit, allowing even greater capacity.

“We went for this unit not only because of its capacity, but also the vacuum’s ability to suck and lift from deeper down and much harder ground. The Manawatu has a diverse range of ground materials. You can have sand, grit, topsoil, clays varying from medium to hard, river metal, pit metal, iron pan – all of these things can be found within a 50km radius of Palmerston North, and you could find the different materials in one job.”

Gary says they started with an eight-wheeler cab and chassis and then put a Hendrickson tag axle on the back end to give more capacity.

“We also went for the auto because of some of the slow around-town work we’re doing, especially with heavy loads and because it’s more user-friendly – a lot of new drivers struggle to drive a Roadranger. It drives exceptionally well; I drove it back from Hamilton on the last service trip, and it drives like a car. It brakes well, it corners well and being automatic, it’s a pleasure to drive.”

The power output is 353kW (480hp) at 1800rpm and the torque 2175Nm (1600lb/ft) at 1100rpm.

The waste must go somewhere…

Clarke Underground works with a variety of clients. The vacuum excavator is primarily used for digging holes, although it can also suck up slurry when doing drilling work. “All our machinery is classed as a tool to get the job done and this truck is no exception. With the type of work we do and the client base we have, we need a lot of tools in the toolbox. We have to have all the procedures in place before we dig – all the cables have to be located and everything known to us before we go in, as they are all hazards and we don’t like putting our staff at risk. If we have all that, then we can minimise our risk. This is what this machine does for us.

“It’s about the quality and sometimes just have to pay a bit more. We have to charge more for the new unit, but our clients now understand what it can do for them. While it might be dearer on an hourly rate basis, timewise, it gets the job done a bit quicker with less risk so they save money there.”

Gary says his business is all about zero risk, zero harm. Clarke Underground has about 16 staff and 15 trucks, and Gary says investing in the new trucks is a 10-year strategic budgetary spend.

“We’ve been in the industry for a while, and we are committed to it. It’s a family business. We have good staff, and we’re not going anywhere. We never say we’re the best at what we do, and we don’t say we’re specialists. When you say you’re a specialist, I think you label yourself, but we are good at what we do, and we’re constantly improving.”

It brakes well, it corners well and being automatic, it’s a pleasure to drive.”

Cook & Galloway director Lloyd Alderwick says the HyperVax is the only unit currently in operation that combines high capacity and suction.

“When we tested Gary’s unit, we took five and a half cubic meters of water into it in about 20 seconds. That’s what it’s capable of.”

Lloyd says the unit is something special, incorporating many new advances.

“These include a focus on noise reduction, deep extended away suction work, full immersion pick-up, hydro excavation creep-along trenching, multiple inlets, an extendable boom, a large vacuum reservoir tank, a twin auto-adjusting water blaster system, and the capacity to do both drafting-type work and deep-suction work.

The 350hp Cummins donkey engine provides 260kW to provide 27” of mercury HD suction.”

The HyperVax also utilises a new, unique advanced drive system technology allowing for very soft mechanical starts to avoid stress in the engine or pump or drive lines and full control of the vacuum pump, with a special high-efficiency power take-off point for the hydraulics.

The HyperVax’s extendable boom allows work to be carried out some distance from the unit. “Gary has used it deep inside a building and down a hole because he’s not limited to working right where the unit is. The HyperVax gives you the ability to work up to 100m away quite comfortably.”

The Hypervax’s extendable boom means work can be carried out up to 100m away.

Lloyd says the HyperVax unit eliminates the need for multiple trucks to be taken to a job. “He’s effectively saved himself money by not needing two or three trucks. This one can pretty much do anything he ever wants it to do. The time saving the customer gets from the speed at which this unit works can be used for other things, so they’re actually getting the benefit of that as well.”

Gary says the addition of the HyperVax has enabled CUL to increase efficiencies, reducing time on-site and helping to get difficult jobs completed on time.

“It has also reduced service strikes, providing the ability to locate and excavate in close proximity to underground services. The success of this HyperVax has exceeded our expectations, prompting us to order our second unit from Cook & Galloway.”

The second unit will also be high-capacity and have the ability to lift the dirt out quicker and tackle tougher terrain.

Gary Clarke would like to acknowledge the following companies for their involvement in the HyperVax: Hino Trucks NZ; Cook & Galloway Engineers; Wilkinson Transport Engineers; P & B Auto Electrical; Windust Hydraulics; Manawatu Auto Electrical, and Mirage Visual.