Made-To-Order Mini-Vacs Expand Contractor’s Industrial Cleaning Capabilities

Smaller custom vac trucks with built-in pressure washers are an efficient, cost-effective option on jobs where maneuverability is key

Made-To-Order Mini-Vacs Expand Contractor’s Industrial Cleaning Capabilities

 Waste Solution Services commissioned several smaller vac trucks to work inside plants and factories where maneuverability is crucial. The Cusco-built trucks feature a Ford F-750 chassis; a 1,400-gallon stainless steel debris tank; a 100-gallon water tank; an air-cooled PM80 vacuum pump made by Moro USA; and a hydraulic pressure washer.

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Chris Biellier calls his small, custom-made vacuum trucks “mini-vacs.”

But while they’re small in stature compared to a conventional vac truck, they nonetheless provide a big boost in areas that matter a lot to Biellier, the vice president of the environmental and waste solutions divisions of Seneca Cos.: opening up new markets, better productivity and increased revenue.

The custom-designed trucks cost about $150,000 each. Cusco Fabricators (a brand owned by Wastequip) built three of the trucks on Ford F-750 chassis and Keith Huber Corp. fabricated the other three on Kenworth chassis, he says.

Along with chassis that are much smaller than conventional industrial vacuum trucks, the units also feature smaller 1,400- to 1,500-gallon stainless steel debris tanks, capable of carrying hazardous waste. The mini-vacs help expand the Seneca customer base because they can get into and maneuver inside plants and factories that the company couldn’t service before with just its larger trucks, Biellier says.

“We took what’s historically a larger truck and shrank it — made it more compact while still maintaining similar functionality. A lot of the plants we work in have very tight aisles. But with their smaller footprint, these trucks have tighter turning radiuses and more maneuverability.

“They’re much more nimble … and they allow us to do jobs we couldn’t do before. They also help us be more competitive on cost because many of our competitors use larger equipment for small applications, which costs the customer more money.”

The trucks are primarily used for applications such as emergency chemical spills and emptying and/or cleaning tanks, vessels, pits, vaults and the like. “We use them anywhere there’s material that customers want removed,” he says. “It’s great when you send out a truck that’s sized to the job it needs to perform.”

The trucks also cost substantially less than a conventional vacuum truck, while providing similar capabilities, Biellier adds.

Made to order

The Cusco-built trucks feature a Ford F-750 chassis; a 1,400-gallon stainless steel debris tank; a 100-gallon water tank; an air-cooled PM80 vacuum pump (350 cfm) made by Moro USA; and a hydraulic pressure washer (5.6 gpm at 3,500 psi). Cusco built the tanks.

The Keith Huber trucks feature Kenworth chassis; a 1,500-gallon stainless steel debris tank built by Keith Huber with an integrated 100-gallon water tank compartment; a Challenger 887 vacuum pump (532 cfm) manufactured by National Vacuum Equipment; a retractable hose reel made by Hannay Reels; and a pressure washer (5.6 gpm at 3,500 psi).

All of the trucks also include tilt beds for easier dumping and washout at waste disposal facilities, as well as automatic transmissions; the latter make it easier to attract drivers, which are hard to find these days. The Keith Huber trucks feature larger vacuum pumps because certain applications require more power, Biellier says.

“In some plants, truck operators still need to put out a lot of hose to get the job done,” he explains. “So we spec’d the same vacuum pumps for these three trucks that we use on our larger vac trucks, to compensate for the pressure lost on longer hose runs.”

The trucks’ built-in pressure washers allow for more competitive pricing because they reduce manpower needs per job, he says.

“Instead of sending two employees out to jobs, one in the vac truck and the other with a pickup truck towing a pressure washer, we can send just one person out and still do jobs safely.”

The built-in pressure washers also provide operators with more flexibility. For example, when called to a small petroleum spill in, say, a parking lot where there might not be water available, the trucks can both clean the parking lot as well as vacuum up the liquids.

“It’s much more efficient and cost-effective for our customers.”

Right trucks for the job

Seneca owns a large fleet of vacuum trucks and tankers that serve customers in 16 states. The fleet includes 24 liquid-vacuum trucks made by Cusco, Presvac Systems and Keith Huber and four wet/dry-vacuum trucks built by Guzzler Mfg., Super Products and Keith Huber.

Owning a fleet of vacuum trucks with a wide range of tank sizes allows the company to serve more customers and as a result, boosts revenue, too. For example, before Seneca invested in the mini-vacs, the company occasionally might’ve been forced to turn down a larger and more lucrative industrial cleaning job because its large vac trucks were already busy handling smaller, less profitable service calls.

“The companies that are most successful are those that adapt to customer or specific market needs,” Biellier says. “We pride ourselves on right-sizing our equipment to fit the jobs we need to perform, which is important because jobs vary in size from day to day.

“Not all companies have that flexibility. But I’m sure glad we do. These mini-vacs are perfect for us.” 


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