What Is Trenching?

A trench is a big depression dug into the ground. In the field of construction and maintenance of infrastructure, trenches play an important role. They are built to install underground utilities like cables, telephone lines, communication network wires, gas mains, water mains etc. Small trenches can be dug by a trench digger or even by hand using a shovel or pickaxe. Big trenches on the other hand require motorized trenchers that are specially designed for the job. Trenches are not wide but very deep. They are generally very long as cables need to be laid on them.

Excavation of trenches requires proper planning. The route along which the trench has to be dug needs to be decided. It should not be in the way of any valuable plants or property. The material, tools and equipment required also need to be determined.

It is very important that you determine the type of soil where you will be digging the trench. The nature of soil differs from place to place. Soil can be sandy or made of loose stones and mucky material. This makes trenching difficult and dangerous too. Proper precautions need to be taken to avoid mishaps. The walls of the trench need to be boarded with plywood or other similar material so that they don’t cave in, injuring the workers and undoing the digging that has been done. A pump can be installed to drain out the unnecessary water and make the soil stable while working.

It is advisable to call the local or government utility service provider to check if they have laid any wires or cables so that you can spot them and avoid causing damage to them. Also any vegetation in the way of the trench can be removed and temporarily replanted elsewhere.

Once the digging has started, the soil that is removed after unearthing should be disposed away from the site so that the trench’s banks are not overburdened by its weight and it does not come in the way of your work.

After the digging is complete, trenches should be checked for corrosive substances so that the cables laid on them aren’t damaged in the long run. Cables should be coated with an anti-corrosion compound to prevent that from happening. Trenches should be flagged or fenced so it can prevent people from accidentally falling into it. There have been casualties when it comes to trench digging, but with adequate care, they can be avoided. It is also not advisable to operate heavy equipment near the sides of a trench as there would be chances of the trench collapsing or caving in.

There are many heavy duty machines that are used for the process of trenching. The equipment used includes machines that are used in digging excavations and in trenching operations. Excavators are of two types, tracked and wheeled. Tracked excavators are the most common. Trenchers, on the other hand, are construction equipment that are used for digging trenches. They come in two designs, chain trencher or wheel trencher.

Digging trenches were considered very difficult earlier because proper means of excavating weren’t available. However, with the latest machinery and equipment that are easily available, digging a trench now just takes one to two days depending on the depth and length of the trench.