by Braydon Dowler-Coltman

    SmartVac – The Future of Hydrovac Technology

    Is bigger really better?

    The consensus in Alberta for a number of years, mainly in the oil and gas industry is this; bigger is better. Large tanks allow for a truck to sit at a job for a long period of time before having to go to a dump site, and larger trucks typically have a higher capacity for power, which gets the job done efficiently no matter what obstacles are presented. Realistically large trucks have often worked in the oil and gas industry in Alberta, where the majority of the work exists in the rural countryside. As such, these trucks are not as conscientious of their scope and the impact they have on their environment because there is so much space for this equipment to operate. With a surplus of equipment in Alberta and a history of building big trucks, companies all over have assumed that a big truck is all you need to do any job, even in urban climates. However, with tighter quarters, these large trucks don’t have the luxury to interact in the same way they do in the country, and that’s exactly where the ideology of SmartVac comes into play.

    What is SmartVac?

    SmartVac is a subsidiary of TKS Industries Ltd. that was founded in 2014. TKS Industries is a service company that has been operating vacuum and water trucks in the Alberta Oilfield since 2004. In 2013 TKS Industries decided to open a new division of lightweight hydrovac trucks to service local municipalities and utilities. After an exhaustive search, management concluded that there simply wasn’t a good enough truck available in the single-axle market to justify purchasing a fleet of them. This is when the SmartVac project got the green light. The goal was to develop a hydrovac truck that would be substantially more reliable, have a lower operating cost, and be much easier to operate than what was available on the market. They wanted a truck that was so easy to operate that you could send it out with an 18-year-old with almost no training. This meant that the truck had to be designed to protect itself from abuse and damage. The engineering team went to work and came up with an initial concept that was highly innovative and exciting, quickly garnering the support of Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures and the National Research Council of Canada. SmartVac owns the patent rights to the boom and tank on every one of their units. All of the manufacturing for SmartVac is done right in the heart of Alberta, where the quality control staff can keep an eye on the entire build process. They have an obsession with quality and refuse to provide customers with anything less than the best.

    SmartVac began building advanced single-axle hydrovac trucks with the equivalent power of a large tri-drive vehicle. Having only one axle allows the vehicle to be operated by a wider range of drivers, as they only need to carry a class 5 license and air brake ticket in Canada. It also reduces the cost of purchasing, operating, and maintaining the truck. Not every job requires a big truck, and many big trucks are so heavy they are unable to haul more than the SmartVac without being over-weight. Similarly, this truck has the capacity to work in tight quarters and manoeuvre under a multitude of circumstances. The main difference between SmartVac and other single-axle hydrovac’s comes down to weight and power. SmartVac is a lighter and more powerful truck compared to its competitors. Thus, it can carry a higher load while still being road legal, and it can dig faster. How much power difference are we talking? It depends which competitor, but for illustration, let’s compare vacuum blowers. Some of its competitors use the Roots 59 URAI blower, their blower needs about 30 horsepower to turn at max speed. The SmartVac’s Roots RAM 624 blower needs about 120 horsepower. That’s like comparing a 1 litre Ford Focus with a Porsche 911 Turbo. Recently, SmartVac began building tandem units with the same philosophy and innovation as that of their single-axle units.

    The innovation and concept of the SmartVac remains rooted in its values of efficiency. This truck has the capability to be run by a single operated touch screen or remote control. Additionally, SmartVac can work in all climates, as it consists of a winterize feature that purges all lines at the touch of a button. Hydrovac trucks are often obtrusive when on the job, however SmartVac has a uniquely engineered cabinet that lowers the decibels to 84db, the equivalent of a food blender. When it comes to size, volume and manoeuvrability, this truck is perfect for municipalities.

    SmartVac has since built trucks to operate in Canada, China and the USA. In 2018, SmartVac partnered with Camex Equipment as their exclusive North American distributor.

    What’s Next?


    Introducing SmartBoom! As SmartVac begins to grow, we have been engaged in creating the future of Boom technology. SmartBoom is a safety feature integrating sensor technology on our patented boom with the capabilities to detect any overhead obstructions (ie. power lines, errant wires, environmental interference).

    Learn more by clicking here: http://www.smartvac.ca

    Braydon Dowler-Coltman

    Braydon is a member of the SmartVac Hydrovacs marketing team.

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