Trenching – An Old Technique with a New Twist

Date posted: November 14, 2014

The practice of trenching has been part of human history since the earliest civilisations built homes for shelter and walls to keep out predators and invading tribes. It is still used in construction, mining, telecommunications and other industries, and while the end result is the same the methods used in trenching these days are vastly different.

As the name suggests, trenching is the practice of digging a trench and although it sounds simple enough, without some specialised knowledge, it can be very dangerous. It is the distinctive shape of a trench, long, narrow and often quite deep, that makes it ideal for a range of purposes. It is perfect for laying telecommunication and electrical cables, oil and gas field pipelines and sewer and water infrastructure.

Poorly Constructed Trenches are a Major Safety Hazard

It is also this long, narrow shape that can be a major hazard to people working inside the trench. Without adequate shoring, that is, installation of support material to keep the sides stable, there is always the danger that they will collapse into the trench. There have been many instances worldwide of workers who have been buried in trench collapses, usually resulting in death or serious crush injuries.

In modern industry the use of manual labour to dig trenches has diminished considerably, mainly because of the range of trenching machines that are now available to do this type of work. Here at the Reay Services Group we specialise in trench work and also supply trenching machines to the mining, construction and telecommunication industries.

Knowledge of Soil Types and Shoring Techniques Keep Trenches Safe

Trenching requires specialised knowledge of safety, soil types (as some are more unstable than others), shoring techniques and materials, and the skills required to operate trenching machines. The type of machine used will depend on the size of the task, the type of industry and the general environment around the construction area.

There are small, self-propelled machines suitable for narrow access applications that enable the easy laying of conduit, small piping and irrigation hose. Chain trenchers are much larger machines, designed for extreme soil and rock conditions. As the cutting chain moves through the ground, it grinds the excavated material and expels it from the trench where it can be dropped onto a conveyor for easy access and removal.

Modern Trenching Machines save Time, Money and the Environment

Trenching machines also offer significant advantages over excavators. Our machines require 60% less manpower, and are 15 times more productive than excavators. They offer enormous cost savings to any project. For example, the excavated material is granulated and used as backfill, once the trench is ready to be sealed. There is no need to truck in other soil.

At the Reay Services Group we are always mindful of the impact of our work on the environment. The reduced fuel and services costs of our machines contribute to a smaller carbon footprint, and the reduced overall ground disturbance minimises the impact to the environment around the site. Trenching using our services and equipment is safe, cost effective and environmentally responsible.