Contractors Adapt GPS To Track Trencher Operations

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | December 2011, Vol. 66 No. 12

“Production in ‘good’ ground conditions is between 22 and 24 feet per minute,” Wampler said. “We did a job last spring where a three-man crew installed a little over 18,000 feet in three days. This included stringing the tile, installing tees, outlet pipes, rodent guards, back filling and all of the connections.”

To begin a run of tile, the crew tracks the trencher along the length of the planned path of the installation, mapping the route with GPS.

“After mapping,” explained Wampler, “we enter the parameters for minimum sloop and depth that we want to maintain, and the unit calculates whether it is possible to meet the parameters that we set. If it can, we flip a switch and start trenching. The machine operator controls the track speed and steering. The GPS unit controls the depth. Once we complete a tile run, we move the trencher to the next tile run and map the topography back to where we want that tile run to start and do the process again.”

The primary benefit of the system, said Wampler, is accuracy.

“The success of Coddington Wampler is the story of two contractors working together,” said Wampler. “Through the years, Darrell has hired me to drill for him and I have hired Darrell to do concrete work and haul for me. We borrow equipment from each other and have used each other’s employees from time to time. I really don’t think that Darrell or I either one would have jumped into the field tiling business by ourselves. However, going into it together made it pretty easy. We had enough experience with each other that we knew this would work. Darrell has some field tiling experience, and both of us are experienced sewer contractors.”

Coddington Wampler has no employees, but draws crews from personnel of Jackson Creek Enterprises and Coddington, Inc.

“Between us, we can shuffle our workforce and equipment enough to keep the tiling business going,” Wampler continued. “We never know who or how many are going to be on the tiling crew.”

Wampler said the original idea for the tiling business came from the desire of both companies to keep employees working in the off seasons.

“Neither of us has ever laid off our employees during the winter,” he said, “and the tiling business gives us something else to help keep everyone busy. In our area, the crops are usually planted in late April or early May and are harvested starting in late September through the first part of November. So we tile before planting or after harvest. Of course, we can be shut down by weather.”

The partnership has provided other benefits.