Aug. 3, 2020
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SAE has published a second standard for Vacuum Excavators and Sewer Cleaning Equipment with the publication of J3107 to compliment the already published J3106 Standard

The members of AEM’s AEM's Underground Equipment Manufacturers Committee (UEMC) understood the need for standards for the growing Vacuum Excavation Equipment industry. Vacuum excavators have been in production for many years, but the full use of this equipment for assisting with the safe excavation around underground utilities has just started to be realized in the last few years. The industry responded with substantial growth.

AEM's UEMC Committee drafted the initial scope of the Vacuum Excavator standard and then approached SAE, a standards development organization, to expand the efforts to the entire industry. Those efforts included several manufacturers and industry experts to build the standard. Since many of these industry manufacturers involved manufactured a combination sewer cleaner and vacuum excavator machine, it was only practical to include both machines in developing a standard.

After many meetings, the joint efforts of industry experts and countless hours, our SAE MTC9 sub-committee, successfully led by Susan Harmon of Charles Machine Works (Ditch Witch), completed and navigated the two standards through the SAE channels and process. 

The publication of SAE Standards J3106 and J3107 has complimented the significant efforts that the underground construction industry has delivered to their workforce to improve safety and send all workers involved home safely after a hard day on the job.

“This joint effort was an excellent example of how AEM facilitates the industry coming together to support the safety of our equipment and operators,” said Harmon.

The following are a number (but nowhere close to all) the industry resources that are available to the underground excavation industry:

  • J3106 Standard– Vacuum Excavation and Sewer Cleaning Equipment Classification and Nomenclature
  • J3107 Standard – Vacuum Excavation and Sewer Cleaning Equipment – Safety Requirements
  • AEM Utility Equipment Manufacturers – Visit AEM members’ websites for quality educational training sessions
  • Underground Utility Awareness Campaign – AEM awareness campaign
  • HDD Academy – Arizona State University Del E. Webb School of Construction by Dr. Sam and numerous Industry Stakeholders
  • Common Ground Alliance (Call 811) – Best Practice Committee
  • Cross Bore Safety Association – Leading Practices for Cross Bore Risk Reduction
  • Planet Underground Roundtable – Conversation on actions that will make the industry safe
  • Staking University – Experienced Classroom and Hands-on Instruction for locating equipment
  • The Utility Expo – Sept. 28-30, 2021 -- Educational sessions, Toolbox Talks, HDD Fundamentals of the Technology and Applications, Introduction to Vacuum Excavating, HDD Challenges and Good Practices, Underground Detection and Marking.

The efforts of the underground utility excavation industry and our many stakeholders continue to focus and build quality equipment and provide excellent training with the goal of improving the safety of the equipment and the job-site performance of our workers.

For more information on the newly published J3106 and J3107 standards, contact AEM’s WJ “Bernie” Bernhard at [email protected] or visit

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