SAE Vacuum Excavation and Sewer Cleaning Equipment Standards Published

SAE has published a second standard for vacuum excavators and sewer cleaning equipment with the publication of J3107 to congratulate that already published J3106 standard.

The members of 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 to aid in safe excavation in underground utilities has only begun to be realized in recent years. The industry responded with significant growth.

AEM’s UEMC committee drafted the initial scope of the vacuum excavator standard and then turned to SAE, a standards development organization, to expand the effort to the entire industry. This effort took several manufacturers and industry experts to create the standard. Since many of these industrial manufacturers involved made a combination of sewer cleaner and vacuum excavator machine, it was only practical to include both machines in the development of a standard.

After many meetings, the collaborative efforts of industry experts, and countless hours, our SAE MTC9 subcommittee, successfully chaired by Susan Harmon of Charles Machine Works (Ditch Witch), completed the two standards and navigated the SAE channels and processes.

The release of SAE standards J3106 and J3107 has complemented the significant effort the underground construction industry has made on its employees to improve safety and get all workers involved safely home after a hard day’s work.

“This joint effort was a great example of how AEM is making it easier for the industry to come together to support the safety of our devices and operators,” said Harmon.

Below are some (but by no means all) industry resources available to the underground excavation industry:

  • J3106 standard– Classification and nomenclature of vacuum excavation and sewer cleaning equipment
  • J3107 standard – Vacuum excavation and sewer cleaning equipment – Safety requirements
  • AEM Supply Equipment Manufacturers – Visit AEM member websites for quality training
  • Underground utilities 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 to reduce cross-bore risk
  • Planet Underground Roundtable – Talk about measures that will make the industry safer
  • Staking university – Experienced classroom and hands-on guide on how to find devices
  • The Utility Expo – 28.-30. September 2021 – Training sessions, toolbox talks, HDD fundamentals of technology and applications, introduction to vacuum excavation, HDD challenges and best practices, underground detection and labeling.

The efforts of the underground utility excavation industry and our numerous stakeholders continue to focus on building high quality equipment and providing excellent training with the aim of improving equipment safety and the performance of our employees on the job site.

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

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