Making Green

A Kentucky contractor’s combination truck turns heads while improving employee safety and jacking up productivity
Making Green

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To boost employee safety, enhance productivity and decrease operating costs, Martin’s Pipeline Inspection in Paris, Ky., went green – as in a lime-green Aquatech B10 combination vacuum truck from Hi-Vac Corp.

“Safety and employees’ well-being were primary concerns,” says owner Mike Thornton. “On this truck, all the controls and reels are mounted on the rear, so the operator is away from all the engine noise and can actually communicate with staff and engineers on site. A lot of times, we set up backwards, with the nose of the truck facing oncoming traffic, for enhanced safety.

“Working from the back allows the truck to serve as a barrier between traffic and our people. If an accident occurs, our employees are behind the truck, not in front of it, where something bad could happen.”

Just one engine

Thornton notes that the truck, mounted on a 2008 Peterbilt 340 tandem-axle chassis, reduces operating costs by 15 to 18 percent when compared to the company’s older, more conventionally configured combination truck. That’s because the truck engine runs everything, instead of having a second “pony” engine run other equipment, such as the frame-mounted waterjetter (2,500 psi/80 gpm).

“We can do vacuuming and jetting while running only one motor, which saves on fuel, repairs and maintenance,” Thornton says. “The drive motor runs at 1,500 to 1,800 rpm, enough to handle the workload.”

Another advantage is increased visibility and job site maneuverability, with a shorter wheelbase and a rear-mounted hose reel. “A front-mounted reel can hamper your turning ability, and it puts more weight on the front axle,” Thornton says. “With rear-mounted equipment, the weight is more evenly distributed on the rear-drive axles.”

Easy off-loading

The truck includes a pump-off system, in which a hydraulic pump inside the debris tank pumps liquid waste onto another truck for transport to the disposal site. That allows the combination truck to stay put and keep on working.

Martin’s purchased the truck, which doubles as a hydroexcavator, to handle a workload the company could no longer accommodate with just one truck. It has a 10-cubic-yard steel debris tank, a positive displacement blower (2,500 cfm) and a foot-operated remote control. It is used mainly to clean 30- to 48-inch sanitary sewers.

In the cab, Thornton paid extra for comforts such as air-ride seats, AM/FM radio, CD player, power windows and locks, tilt steering wheel and cruise control. Comfort is important because the truck travels to work sites in as many as nine states.

“The better the ride, the better off you are,” Thornton says. “Plus, I believe paying an extra $4,000 or $5,000 pays off in the long haul because guys take better care of a nicely equipped truck.” The lime-green color provides a marketing boost.

“Every truck I’ve owned has been white with burgundy markings,” Thornton says. “But the guys talked me into the lime green, and it’s been one of best advertising tools we’ve ever had. We’ve had more business come in because of that. It attracts attention from people who stop at job sites and ask what the truck is all about. Sometimes one thing leads to another and we get a job out of it.”


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