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1. (WO2017035555) APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR EXCAVATING A CAVITY AND SETTING AN OBJECT AT LEAST PARTIALLY THEREIN
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THE CLAIMS DEFINING THE INVENTION ARE AS FOLLOWS:

1 . An apparatus for excavating a cavity and setting an object at least partially therein, the apparatus comprising:

a vehicle on which are mounted;

a suction generator for providing suction for moving material to be excavated from a bed of material in order to provide a cavity;

a chamber for receiving said material, the chamber having an inlet for ingress of said material; and

a lifting and setting apparatus for lifting the object and moving the object at 13least partially into the cavity.

2. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the apparatus further comprises a conduit for passage of said material to the inlet.

3. An apparatus as claimed in either of claims 1 or 2, wherein the apparatus further comprises a backfill storage region provided on the vehicle.

4. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the apparatus further comprises at least one backfill container, which is one of (i) permanently mounted on the vehicle; and (ii) removable from the vehicle by operation of the lifting and setting apparatus.

5. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus comprises a base, a first elongate support member pivotally coupled to the base, and a second elongate support member pivotally coupled to the first elongate support member.

6. An apparatus as claimed in any of claims 3 to 5, wherein at least one support member is drivable to pivot about its pivotal coupling(s) by one or more powered actuators.

7. An apparatus as claimed in claim 6, wherein at least one support member is drivable to pivot about its pivotal coupling(s) by at least one of: one or more hydraulic actuators; one or more pneumatic actuators; one or more cables.

8. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is capable of lifting a weight of at least 500 kg at a horizontal distance from the base of at least four meters.

9. An apparatus as claimed in claim 8, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is capable of lifting a weight of at least 900 kg at a horizontal distance from the base of at least eight meters.

10. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus comprises a crane.

1 1 . An apparatus as claimed in claim 10, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus comprises a loader crane.

12. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus comprises an arrangement for restricting undesired movement of the object.

13. An apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein the arrangement for restricting undesired movement of the object comprises an arrangement for retaining part of the object close to, or in contact with a jib or arm of the lifting and setting apparatus.

14. An apparatus as claimed in either of claims 12 or 13, wherein the arrangement for restricting undesired movement of the object comprises an arrangement to hold the object and to extend at least partially around part of the object.

15. An apparatus as claimed in claim 14, wherein the arrangement to hold the object comprises first and second jaws, relatively moveable to selectively hold or release the object.

16. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus comprises a grapple for holding and manipulating said object.

17. An apparatus as claimed in claim 16, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus comprises a pole grapple for holding and manipulating said object when said object comprises a pole.

18. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the apparatus comprises a fluid storage compartment for storing a fluid for supply to a lance which can be used for loosening material to be excavated.

19. An apparatus as claimed in claim 18, wherein the fluid storage compartment comprises a storage tank provided on the vehicle, and the fluid storage compartment comprises a fluid storage part of a container which at least partially defines the chamber.

20. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the apparatus comprises a pressuriser for pressurising fluid for supply to a lance which can be used for loosening material to be excavated.

21 . An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the apparatus comprises a lance of a type which expels gas or liquid under pressure for loosening material to be excavated.

22. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle comprises a trailer.

23. An apparatus as claimed in claim 22, wherein the vehicle further comprises a motorised vehicle to which the trailer is connectable.

24. An apparatus as claimed in any of claims 1 to 21 , wherein the vehicle comprises a motorised vehicle.

25. An apparatus as claimed in claim 24, wherein the vehicle comprises a truck.

26. An apparatus as claimed in claim 25, wherein the chamber and the lifting and setting apparatus are mounted on the truck.

27. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the chamber and a base of the lifting and setting apparatus are spaced apart in a longitudinal direction of the vehicle.

28. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is attached to a chassis of the vehicle.

29. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the chamber is attached to a chassis of the vehicle.

30. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is mounted closer to a rear of the vehicle than is the chamber.

31 . An apparatus as claimed in any of claims 1 to 29, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is mounted closer to a front of the vehicle than is the chamber.

32. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the chamber comprises a door which is openable to facilitate removal of material from the chamber.

33. An apparatus as claimed in claim 32, wherein the door is provided at a lateral side of the chamber.

34. An apparatus as claimed in claim 32, wherein the door is provided at a rear end of the chamber.

35. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle comprises a tipping arrangement to tip the chamber in order to facilitate removal of material from the chamber.

36. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle provides an intermediate storage region, for storing and transporting items, the intermediate storage region being provided between the chamber and a longitudinal position at which the lifting and setting apparatus is mounted on the vehicle.

37. An apparatus as claimed in claim 36, wherein the intermediate storage region comprises at least part of a deck region of a truck.

38. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle provides a side storage region, for storing and transporting items, the side storage region being provided at or adjacent a side of the chamber.

39. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle provides a base storage region, for storing and transporting items, the base storage region being provided below a deck of the vehicle and/or adjacent part of the chassis of the vehicle.

40. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim 39, wherein the base storage region is provided substantially below the chamber.

41 . An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the apparatus further comprises at least one support, mountable on the vehicle, for supporting an object to be set in a cavity.

42. An apparatus as claimed in claim 41 , wherein the apparatus comprises at least two spaced apart supports for supporting an object to be set in a cavity.

43. An apparatus as claimed in either of claims 41 or 42, wherein at least one support for supporting an object to be set in a cavity comprises a support surface, positioned above a deck portion of the vehicle, for supporting said object.

44. An apparatus as claimed in claim 43, wherein the support surface defines at least one recess for receiving at least part of said object.

45. An apparatus as claimed in claim 44, wherein at least one support for supporting an object to be set in a cavity comprises a cradle.

46. An apparatus as claimed in claim 45, wherein at least one support for supporting an object to be set in a cavity comprises a cradle for supporting a pole.

47. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the apparatus comprises at least two spaced apart supports for supporting a pole therebetween.

48. An apparatus as claimed in any of claims 41 to 47, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is arranged so that it can lift said object from said one or more supports.

49. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the suction generator and the chamber have a common power source.

50. An apparatus as claimed in claim 49, wherein the common power source comprises the engine of the vehicle.

51 . An apparatus as claimed in claim 50, wherein the common power source comprises a power take off provided by the vehicle.

52. An apparatus as claimed in claim 50, wherein the common power source comprises a livedrive provided by the vehicle.

53. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle is provided with an auxiliary ignition switch for allowing the engine of the vehicle to be started from outside a cab of the vehicle.

54. An apparatus as claimed in claim 53, wherein the he auxiliary ignition switch is provided on the vehicle or on a remote control unit which provides a control signal to start the engine of the vehicle.

55. An apparatus as claimed in claim 49, wherein the common power source comprises an auxiliary engine provided on the vehicle, which does not provide motive power for the vehicle.

56. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle comprises a hydraulics system.

57. An apparatus as claimed in claim 56, wherein the hydraulics system comprises at least one auxiliary output to allow connection and operation of detachable hydraulic tools.

58. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the vehicle comprises a pneumatics system.

59. An apparatus as claimed in claim 58, wherein the pneumatics system comprises at least one auxiliary output to allow connection and operation of detachable pneumatic tools.

60. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein controls for both the lifting and setting apparatus and the suction generator are provided on the vehicle.

61. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein controls for the lifting and setting apparatus are provided on a remote control unit.

62. An apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein controls for the suction generator are provided on a remote control unit.

63. An apparatus as claimed in claim 62, wherein controls for both the lifting and setting apparatus and the suction generator are provided on a single remote control unit.

64. A method of excavating a cavity and setting an object at least partially therein comprising:

providing a vehicle on which are mounted:

a suction generator for providing suction of material to be excavated from a bed of material in order to provide a cavity;

a chamber for receiving excavated material, the chamber being connected to a conduit for passage of material from said bed of material to said chamber; and

a lifting and setting apparatus for lifting and moving said object;

moving the vehicle to a location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity;

excavating a cavity suitable for receipt of the object, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber; and

moving the object using the lifting and setting apparatus so that the object is set at least partially within the cavity.

65. A method as claimed in claim 64, wherein excavating the cavity comprises use of a lance to loosen material from the bed of material to facilitate passage of the material through the conduit.

66. A method as claimed in claim 65, wherein the lance is of a type which expels gas or liquid under pressure to loosen material from the bed of material.

67. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 66, wherein the method comprises no substantial movement of the vehicle between excavating the cavity and moving the object using the lifting and setting apparatus so that the object is set at least partially within the cavity.

68. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 67, wherein the vehicle comprises a motorised vehicle.

69. A method as claimed in claim 68, wherein the vehicle comprises a truck.

70. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 69, wherein the method comprises using the vehicle to transport just one worker substantially to the location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity.

71. A method as claimed in claim 70, wherein the method comprises said one worker, without assistance from any additional on-site worker: excavating the cavity suitable for receipt of the object, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber.

72. A method as claimed in either of claims 70 or 71 , wherein the method comprises said one worker, without assistance from any additional on-site worker: moving the object using the lifting and setting apparatus so that the object is set at least partially within the cavity.

73. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 69, wherein the method comprises using the vehicle to transport at least two workers substantially to the location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity.

74. A method as claimed in claim 73, wherein the method comprises said at least two workers, without assistance from any additional on-site worker: excavating the cavity suitable for receipt of the object, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber.

75. A method as claimed in either of claims 73 or 74, wherein the method comprises said at least two workers, without assistance from any additional on-site worker: moving the object using the lifting and setting apparatus so that the object is set at least partially within the cavity.

76. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 69, wherein the method comprises using the vehicle to transport a crew of two, and only two, workers substantially to the location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity.

77. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 69, wherein the method comprises using the vehicle to transport a crew of three, and only three, workers substantially to the location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity.

78. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 69, wherein the method comprises using the vehicle to transport a crew of at least three workers substantially to the location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity.

79. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 69, wherein the method comprises using the vehicle to transport a crew of at least four workers substantially to the location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity.

80. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 69, wherein the method comprises using the vehicle to transport a crew of at least six workers substantially to the location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity.

81. A method as claimed in any of claims 76 to 80, wherein the method comprises said crew transported using the vehicle, without assistance from any additional on-site worker: excavating the cavity suitable for receipt of the object, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber.

82. A method as claimed in any of claims 76 to 81 , wherein the method comprises said crew transported using the vehicle, without assistance from any additional on-site worker: moving the object using the lifting and setting apparatus so that the object is set at least partially within the cavity.

83. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 82, wherein the method comprises transporting the object substantially to the location where it is desired to set said object at least partially within a cavity, using the vehicle.

84. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 83, wherein the object comprises a pole.

85. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 83, wherein the object comprises a pit,

a valve, a pipe, a section of pipe, or a foundation.

86. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 85, wherein the method comprises transporting a plurality of objects, each of which is to be set at least partially within a cavity, using the vehicle.

87. A method as claimed in claim 86, wherein the method comprises:

excavating a first cavity suitable for receipt of a first of the plurality of objects, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber;

moving the first of the plurality of objects using the lifting and setting apparatus so that the first of the plurality of objects is set at least partially within the cavity;

excavating one or more respective subsequent cavities for one or more respective subsequent objects of the plurality of objects, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material through the conduit into the chamber; and

moving the one or more respective subsequent objects of the plurality of objects, using the lifting and setting apparatus, to be set at least partially within the one or more respective subsequent cavities.

88. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 87, wherein the method is a method comprising replacing an object which is set at least partially within a cavity.

89. A method as claimed in claim 88, wherein the method comprises excavating around the object to be replaced to facilitate removal of the object to be replaced.

90. A method as claimed in claim 89, wherein the method comprises excavating around the object to be replaced by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from around the object to be replaced through the conduit into the chamber

91. A method as claimed in any of claims 88 to 90, wherein the method comprises removing the object to be replaced from the position in which it was set at least partially within a cavity.

92. A method as claimed in claims 91 , wherein removing the object to be replaced comprises use of the lifting and setting apparatus.

93. A method as claimed in either of claims 91 or 92, wherein removing the object to be replaced comprises use of at least one additional piece of equipment.

94. A method as claimed in claim 93, wherein said at least one additional piece of equipment comprises a pole jack.

95. A method as claimed in claim 89 or any other claim when dependent therefrom, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is engaged with the object to be replaced prior to completing excavating around the object to be replaced.

96. A method as claimed in claim 95, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is engaged with the object to be replaced prior to commencing excavating around the object to be replaced.

97. A method as claimed in any of claims 88 to 96, wherein the excavating of a cavity suitable for receipt of the object, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber, comprises enlarging a cavity left when the object to be replaced is removed.

98. A method as claimed in any of claims 88 to 96, wherein the excavating of a cavity suitable for receipt of the object, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber, comprises excavating a cavity close to the object to be replaced, prior to removing the object to be replaced.

99. A method as claimed in any of claims 88 to 98, wherein the replacement method comprises a method of replacing a pole with a replacement pole.

100. A method as claimed in any of claims 64 to 99, wherein the method comprises use of an apparatus as claimed in any of claims 1 to 63.

101. A method of removing an object set at least partially in a cavity in the ground, from said cavity, comprising:

providing a vehicle on which are mounted:

a suction generator for providing suction of material to be excavated from a bed of material in order to provide a cavity;

a chamber for receiving excavated material, the chamber being connected to a conduit for passage of material from said bed of material to said chamber;

a lifting and setting apparatus for lifting and moving said object;

moving the vehicle to a location where it is desired to remove said object from said cavity;

excavating around the object to be removed to facilitate removal of the object from the cavity, by operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber; and

moving the object using the lifting and setting apparatus so that the object is removed from the cavity.

102. A method as claimed in claim 101 wherein excavating around the object to be removed further comprises applying a fluid to material in the bed of material to loosen or break down material prior to passing material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber.

103. A method as claimed in either of claims 101 or 102, wherein removing the object comprises use of at least one additional piece of equipment.

104. A method as claimed in claim 103, wherein said at least one additional piece of equipment comprises a pole jack.

105. A method as claimed in any of claims 101 to 104, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is engaged with the object to be removed prior to completing excavating around the object to be removed.

106. A method as claimed in claim 105, wherein the lifting and setting apparatus is engaged with the object to be replaced prior to commencing excavating around the object to be removed.

107. A method as claimed in any of claims 101 to 106, wherein the method further comprises operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber, in order to enlarging a cavity left when the object is removed.

108. A method as claimed in claim 107, wherein the method comprises determining a likely region of contamination in the bed of material caused by leaching of toxic material from the object to be removed, operating the suction generator in order to provide suction and using said suction to pass material from said bed of material through the conduit into the chamber, in order to enlarge the cavity sufficiently to remove substantially all the material in the likely region of contamination.

109. A method as claimed in claims 108, wherein the method comprises transporting the material removed from the likely region of contamination away from the location where the object was removed from the cavity, using the vehicle.

1 10. A method as claimed in either of claims 108 or 109, wherein the object to be removed comprises chemically treated timber

1 11. A method as claimed in any of claims 101 to 110, wherein the object to be removed comprises a pole.

1 12. A method as claimed in any of claims 101 to 11 1 , wherein the method comprises using the lifting and setting apparatus to set the object on the vehicle, and transporting the object away from the location where the object was removed from the cavity, using the vehicle.

1 13. An object which has been set at least partially within a cavity using an apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1 to 63.

1 14. A transmission arrangement comprising a plurality of cable supports and at least one transmission cable supported above the ground by said cable supports, wherein at least one of the cable supports comprises an object in accordance with claim 1 13.

1 15. A transmission arrangement as claimed in claim 1 14 wherein at least one of the cable supports comprises a pole.

1 16. A transmission arrangement as claimed in either of claims 1 14 or 1 15 wherein at least one transmission cable comprises a cable for transmission of electrical current.

1 17. A transmission arrangement as claimed in any of claims 1 14 to 1 16 wherein at least one transmission cable comprises a cable for transmission of telecommunications data.

1 18. An object set at least partially within an excavated cavity, which cavity has been excavated and which object has been set at least partially therein by a method of excavating a cavity and setting an object at least partially therein in accordance with any of claims 64 to 100.

1 19. A transmission arrangement comprising a plurality of cable supports and at least one transmission cable supported above the ground by said cable supports, wherein at least one of the cable supports comprises an object in accordance with claim 1 18.

120. A transmission arrangement as claimed in claim 1 19 wherein at least one of the cable supports comprises a pole.

121. A transmission arrangement as claimed in either of claims 1 19 or 120 wherein at least one transmission cable comprises a cable for transmission of electrical current.

122. A transmission arrangement as claimed in any of claims 1 19 to 121 wherein at least one transmission cable comprises a cable for transmission of telecommunications data.