Microtrenching Speeds 4G Fiber Installation

April 2011 Vol. 66 No. 4

“We completed that installation in three days,” Bowen noted. “If we had gone in there with a horizontal directional drill, we would have been there for a week at the very least, and that’s if we didn’t hit rock and everything went well. Not only did we install it in three days, but the average person who drives by or walks by wouldn’t have known what we were doing because we weren’t leaving a mess behind us.”

Bowen likened the team’s microtrenching to rocksawing that was so prevalent a couple of decades ago. “It’s like rocksawing was back in the 1980’s when they used rocksaws all over the country to install cable TV services,” he said. “Microtrenching is kind of like a mini-rocksaw because we are cutting a small trench with the microtrencher cutter wheel, then installing a small duct product and putting a microfiber cable in that product. Microtrenching helps reduce initial capital costs of the construction and we can roll it out very quickly. Production has been faster than traditional construction so we can provide the service at a lower cost and with less disruption.”

The Vermeer MTR12 and MTR16 microtrencher attachments offer maximum cutting depths of 12 and 16 inches, respectively. They have an offset capability of up to two inches outside the right rear solid rubber tire. That allowed Team Fishel to cut the trench right next to the lip of the gutter. A two-stage lift and level design helps keep the attachment flush with the surface to maximize cutter wheel engagement and vacuum performance on uneven surfaces. Cutter wheels include a range of teeth types and widths to meet varying specifications.

“The learning curve for our operator was short and he had the hang of it within a few days,” Bowen said. “Vermeer has been very good to work with and it’s an excellent machine. It’s a very productive and clean operation.”

“We’ve had days where we’ve done 2,000 feet with this system, but an average day is probably 1,500 feet,” said Bowen, as Team Fishel’s work to install more fiber for distributed antenna systems in the area continues. “The way that the microtrencher is designed, we can tuck it right up next to that concrete curb, without damaging the concrete and we think that’s a very positive feature. In a week’s time, we can install more than a mile of product, with little disruption and commotion in the neighborhood.”

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