Right Time, Right Place For Piercing Tools

April 2013, Vol. 68 No. 4

Careful consideration to minimize footprint and disruption to property while maintaining the integrity of individual homeowner yards and landscaping was a given by Dixon and his crew when preparing the launch pits -- each approximately 4½feet deep and 18-inches wide -- required to complete the installation. This includes using tarps for temporary storage of spoil, cutting sod for surface reinstatement and expediting completion within the same day so as not to disrupt homeowners any longer than necessary -- all of which Dixon refers to as jobsite best practices.

“Generally speaking, existing utilities will determine where launch pits are situated,” Dixon says. “The Mooresville subdivisions were already well established. Most had gas and water services, along with sewer taps coming from the house. I’d estimate we were digging a launch pit every 30 to 40-feet. Typically, using piercing tools, a 40 to 50-foot shot is ideal which is about what we were able to accomplish on the Mooresville project.

“We’ve completed longer shots before, but doing so is really not the ideal approach,” says Dixon. “The farther you shoot a tool, the more things come into play. For example, if the direction is off ever so slightly to begin with, the longer the bore, the greater the tendency for the tool to stray, even rise up in elevation, especially if the head confronts an obstruction.”

In just one simple step, the piercing tool completed each bore and then pulled the fiber in behind it -- a one-step process that helps to enhance overall installation productivity and is both accurate and cost-efficient. Contrary to most contractors that typically employ five- and six-man crews on a site, Dixon prefers a four-man approach.

“Inevitably when you send five or six men out on a project, one or two guys end up standing and watching with little, if anything, to do. We’ve found that using four-man crews helps keep labor costs in line,” Dixon says.

Helping to keep crew sizes lower are some of the features of the newer piercing tools. According to Jeff Wage, vice president, sales and marketing for McLaughlin, the Hole Hammer piercing tool has been engineered with a number of innovative features that help provide better control and easy start-up.