A Closer Look: Hvidtved Larsen Makes the Most of the Three Rs With Its Sewer Cleaning Tankers

Hvidtved Larsen has been in business for more than a century, remaining so in large part because those at its helm have looked forward.

Today the Danish company develops and produces sewer cleaning tankers that are sold worldwide.

“We can say we’re truly one of the leaders in the industry,” says Nicholas Bellwood, vice president of sales and distribution. Thanks to one man’s ambition and a dedication to innovation, the company helps clients the world over by making what amounts to waste work into a more manageable, economical and environmentally sound process.

It all began in 1915, when J. Hvidtved Larsen founded a forge.

Through the decades the company’s aims shifted and grew, easing away from repairs and concentrating on manufacturing. Early output included bridge bascules and cranes. Then in 1956 it experienced a significant shift, when it assembled its first sewer cleaning unit. In 1996 it became a joint-stock company and began to focus exclusively on sewer cleaning tankers. It’s been a leader in the industry ever since.


During the 1980s, Hvidtved Larsen began designing the RECycler.  By 1997, the first version of today's RECycler was introduced to the European market.  

Today Hvidtved Larsen is owned by Swiss manufacturer Bucher Industries, which acquired it in 2016. Having Bucher and their network of related companies behind them has allowed Hvidtved Larsen to expand their presence in the U.S. market more rapidly than originally planned.

About one third of the company’s sewer cleaning units are sold to Danish customers, but the rest are sold worldwide, including in the United States and Australia. Their tanks are made of 8mm boilerplate steel, built to withstand the most extreme conditions, be they arctic or desert climates.

Hvidtved Larsen’s base models, aside from the RECycler, are the FlexLine and the CityFlex. All three were developed per market demand.

The CityFlex is a smaller model that adheres to urban weight restrictions and is capable of doing a full-size job in a more compact setting. The FlexLine is designed for versatility, including handling clogged service lines, emptying septic tanks, transporting dangerous liquids and more.

Their all-star is the aforementioned RECycler, with its environmentally friendly focus.

It’s the most effective recycler on the market, according to Hvidtved Larsen. It was also the first on the market, so they bring experience and innovation to their product.

With water, fuel and time often at a premium, this model truly follows the three Rs of reducing, reusing and recycling. When cleaning sewer systems, the operators use built-in filters to separate sediment and waste from the water and then reuse the same water until the job is done.

“With the RECycler,” Bellwood explains, “you fill the truck (with water) in the morning and the team goes and jets water into the sewer, and as it is vacuuming it back up, it goes through filters and puts the water back in the truck – there is continuous operation.” There’s no need to return to empty the tank of waste water mid-job, because it is being filtered and reused.

“A lot less water is used, and from a cost perspective it’s better, since water is not free everywhere,” Bellwood says.

With water at a premium – the droughts in the western United States in 2017 serve as a recent example – the RECycler easily saves thousands of gallons of water per cleaning session.

One client, UK-based Lanes Group PLC, found that they achieved 15 to 20 percent greater efficiency with the RECycler, thanks to less water, labor and fuel usage.

Bellwood says that as the consumers warm to the concept, technology and operational benefits of RECycler's, Hvidtved Larsen is ideally positioned to meet the growing demand in the U.S. market. They’re exhibiting at the AED Summit & CONDEX in Las Vegas in January 2018 and have plans to build and sell tankers in the United States.

Hvidtved Larsen has continued to expand their presence in the US market  by working with customers that are interested in increased productivity while saving money on water, fuel and debris disposal.

“The sewer-cleaning business is pretty much a constant,” Bellwood says, “because whether it’s good times or bad times, waste is produced.”

It may be recession-proof, but conservation is always a welcome byproduct.

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