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pipeline equipment

pipeline equipment

Getting the most out of your trencher Trencher manufacturers and distributors Astec, Ditch Witch, Tesmec and Vermeer know how to get the most out of your trencher. Astec’s Al Bender, Ditch Witch's Jason Proctor, Tesmec’s Flavio Villa and Kris Phillips, and Vermeer’s Chris Lynch share their trencher tips with Pipelines International. What your trencher can do for you In most instances, burying a pipeline requires digging a trench. A range of methods can be used to complete the excavation work, allowing a pipeline to be laid and buried. Tesmec’s Flavio Villa and Kris Phillips outline the benefits of choosing a trencher to complete excavation work in pipeline projects. “First of all, in almost all ground conditions, using a trencher leads to highly increased productivity and lower excavation costs compared to other excavation means such as excavators, rock breakers or drill and blast. “Second, the use of trenchers always leads to a reduction of logistic costs and easier management of the site. One single trencher can replace a huge fleet of other excavators to achieve the same daily productivity. This means less machines and operators onsite, easier site management, and lower costs of logistics. “Last but not least, the use of a trencher also reduces the environmental impact of the excavation by minimising the negative environmental effects of truck haulage and

The Vermeer T1155 Commander 3 track trencher at work.


waste disposal by reducing or eliminating the risks, costs, vibration and noise arising from use of explosives, and also through the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, due to the reduction of the number of machines.” The Tesmec duo also highlight that trenchers always bring a valuable cost reduction in terms of bedding and backfilling. Astec’s Al Bender agrees, saying “When using a trencher the most important impact on schedule and budget is the ability to use the spoil without further processing.

“As a trencher excavates a trench in rock, it also grinds the rock into useable sizes. Alternative methods of digging a trench in rock, such as blasting or hydraulic hammers, leave large boulders that must be hauled off and processed before they can be used. This added feature of a trencher saves money and time,” says Mr Bender. He adds “Most pipelines laid in trenches require padding material around the pipe before the trench is backfilled. A trencher cuts a perfect rectangle in rock, while other methods end up with trapezoidal trenches

“The use of trenchers always leads to a reduction of logistic costs and easier management of the site.” – Flavio Villa and Kris Phillips, Tesmec

much larger than required. The amount of material required to pad a trencher-cut trench is almost halved. Whether you are buying padding material or making your own this is a significant saving.”

What you can do for your trencher

operator and service manuals. Mr Bender agrees, saying “Trenchers need to be serviced daily because of the nature of the work and the environment. Daily maintenance involves greasing, checking oil and coolant levels, cleaning or

replacing of filters and general inspection. The teeth need to be inspected and replaced as needed. Hydraulic oil and engine oil need to be changed as recommended. “With proper maintenance and overhaul of engine and transmission, a trencher can

Vermeer’s Chris Lynch knows the stress under which trenching machines often operate. “A trencher is typically operating at full load when in service, which means the unit takes a fair amount of vibrational abuse depending on digging conditions. All this leads to a machine that needs daily service and attention.” Ditch Witch's Jason Proctor says “The average life span of a trencher can be significantly affected by proper maintenance.” He adds that machines should be serviced based upon the manufacturer’s recommendations found in

Continued on page 60 ››

The Tesmec TRS-1100 Chainsaw trencher. Ditch Witch’s HT300 track trencher

ready to commence trenching for the


Astec’s Trencor T1360 mechanical drive chain trencher.

Pipelines International | september 2010

Pipelines International | september 2010


pipeline equipment

Pipeline equipment

Trencher tips from Astec’s Al Bender 1. Be diligent on preventative maintenance. This can prevent a major problem that can rob days of production. 2. Become familiar with the sound of the machine. A change in sound usually foretells a problem. 3. Be aware of your surroundings. Know where you are and who or what is close by.

Trencher tips from Ditch Witch’s Jason Proctor 1. Refer to operator/service manuals for periodic maintenance recommendations. 2. Create a log for required maintenance and make it available for quick reference. 3. Train users on proper operation. ‹‹ Continued FROM page 59

last for many thousands of hours. There are examples of trenchers with over 60,000 hours of operating time,” says Mr Bender.

Trenching safely Mr Bender says “A trencher is much safer than alternative methods of digging a trench. One trencher can replace 10 to 14 excavators and rock hammers. Fewer items of equipment to do the same job require fewer people to operate reducing the chance for accidents.” Trenchers have a number of safety features including: • Roll-over protection structure cabs; • Movement alarms; • Emergency shutdown capabilities; and, • Protective guards. Although, as Mr Villa and Mr Phillips point out, safety features must be combined

with safe operational practices and procedures not just around the trencher, but on the job site as well to secure the safety of all workers. Mr Proctor notes that trencher operators should be knowledgeable in proper machine operation and be able to confidently identify jobsite hazards. “The primary consideration when selecting an operator is ensuring proper training is made available. An experienced operator can have a positive impact on achieving project timelines and budget,” Mr Proctor says.

Make the initial investment and save Trenchers are a major investment for pipeline construction companies. While the initial outlay for the equipment will always be a consideration in selecting the size and model of a trencher, factors such as the rate

of production and service support are also important. Mr Lynch says that evaluating the profile of the ditch, soil/rock conditions, scheduled daily production and terrain in advance is critical in selecting the correct machine and digging configuration to suit the specific ground conditions. “While contractors may be tempted to choose a smaller trencher to save costs, pushing smaller units to do more than they are designed for often leads to much higher maintenance and service expenses,” Mr Lynch says. Choosing the wrong configuration for a job can be crucial in terms of lost productivity and associated costs. Taking the time to research the different trenchers available on the market and discussing equipment capabilities with local dealers is an important part of choosing the right trencher for the job.

Ditch Witch’s HT300 track trencher

cuts a trench through a rocky area.

The Tesmec TRS-1475 Bucket trencher.

Trencher tips from Tesmec’s Flavio Villa and Kris Phillips 1. Undertake engine service and machine inspection and greasing daily. 2. Operate at minimum vibration levels.

“While contractors may be tempted to choose a smaller trencher to save costs, pushing smaller units to do more than they are designed for often leads to much higher maintenance and service expenses.” – Chris Lynch, Vermeer

Trencher tips from Vermeer’s Chris Lynch 1. Always make sure the conveyor is on when doing the plunge cut. This is often an oversight that results in clogging-up the conveyor. 2. Make sure teeth and cutters are in serviceable shape. Worn-out teeth left in operation can drastically reduce production and increase trencher wear. 3. Inspect the trencher before and after every use. This allows operators to catch small problems, before they become big.

The Vermeer T655 bucket wheel trencher cuts a trench with precision.


3. Always use the right type of teeth according to the material to be excavated and always maintain cutting teeth in good condition. A trencher is only as good as its teeth, no matter how large and powerful it is – rock cannot be cut with a set of worn-out teeth.

Pipelines International | september 2010

Pipelines International | september 2010


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