It all starts with making a hole. An on-going joke around our dinner table, after the kids talk about what they learned at school, Dad gets asked “how was your day?” Dad of course responds with “good...” followed by “what’d you do today?” Dad smiles again and replys “We dug a hole, put in the pipe and filled it back in. Good day.” It certainly sounds like the same job day after day. It all starts with making a hole. Our vac-truck operators aren’t the typical make a big hole type. We’ve brought most of our operators up from the drill crews or from labourers, they don’t just know how to make a hole, they know what kind of hole we want. When we plan our installations, the locations of the vac holes, the shape of the hole, and the position of the truck are just as important as finding the utilities and clearing a path for the drill. As the boulevards shrink and the pedestal farms expand, clearing a path becomes a better description of our hydrovac operations than simply finding buried lines.
In 2006 and 2007 we contracted Rebel Manufacturing to build us two custom hydrovac trucks to support our directional drilling and excavation crews. Rather than build the triple axle monsters popular in oilfield and plant-site operations, we selected tandem axle chassis and a boulevard friendly, lower weight vac unit. With our work in landscaped areas, congested alleys and high traffic roads, these units provide for better manouverability and less surface impact than their big-brothers. Though we’ve gotten away from too big or too small, there’s always some conversation about getting a different sized unit next time to supplement the fleet. Never say never.
Our Operators and Labourers are all ticketed in equipotential bonding and certified by the local power, telecom and gas utility operators to work on their sites and expose their utilities. Our trucks are equipped with the required bonding lugs, mats, cords, flashing lights, arrow boards and safety equipment. We maintain a company policy to flag or cover every one of the holes we make before we move off site. We understand the hazards overhead, underground and walking through the job site. We’re working to make safe holes and keep the public and our crews safely at work.
Every job ends with a clean site. There’s more to the job than making a hole. As hydrovaccing becomes a popular construction tool, we’re finding that more and more designers and engineers are recognizing the application of the equipment like making remote holes, locating structures for design considerations and minimizing impact on land use. We’ve been busy in the past 5 years with utility investigation for traffic designs. When the rail bed or road surfaces impact the location of existing utilities the cost of utility relocation becomes a consideration in the budgeting of the project. Many of the designers can adapt to the existing structures if they know where they are. We’ve been working with the City of Edmonton, AECOM, ISL Engineering and T2 Engineers to provide research services on the LRT and Highway designs. We have been able to coordinate all of the investigation services from locates and traffic control to backfilled holes and surface replacement. All our clients have on their plate is surveying of the top of the pipes.
In short, not only can we make a hole, we can make a good hole, the way you want, in the spot you want, to the utility you want and then put it all back the way we found it. Mom would be proud.