Ground conditions play a major role in deciding what equipment to use


The fiber industry is rapidly expanding, increasing demand for horizontal directional drilling (HDD) installation. While most contractors know selecting the appropriate drill for the job is key to improving productivity and ROI, what some may not realize, is that selecting the right HDD tooling is equally important. 

Both backreamers and drill bits play important roles on fiber jobs. To help guide HDD tooling selection for fiber jobs, we recommend operators consider the following:

WHAT ARE THE GROUND CONDITIONS?

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While many fiber jobs have a smaller footprint, requiring compact drill rigs, ground conditions can vary widely. Operators need to know what to expect underground in order to select the best tooling to confidently, effectively and efficiently complete the project. After all, time is money. 

Soft soil, sand, dirt and cobble rock all have different impact on drill bits and backreamers. Correctly matching HDD tooling to ground conditions before a job begins will help reduce premature wear and increase its longevity, while also saving time and money.

WHAT TOOLING IS BEST FOR THOSE VARYING GROUND CONDITIONS?

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In soft soils, we recommend operators use a bit that effectively penetrates the soil while assisting with steering adjustments and properly mixing soil with fluids, such as the Ditch Witch Barracuda and Tornado bits. Additionally, these bits are more cost-effective and won’t wear prematurely in soft conditions. 

If a backream is necessary in soft soils, it is recommended that operators choose a backreamer that will quickly attach, saving time, such as the Ditch Witch EZ reamer which has a quick connector built in. The Ditch Witch SandHog HD and Beavertail HD are also recommended for softer soils, as they effectively enlarge the hole while mixing the drilling fluids with spoils for easier product installation.

Hard ground conditions present challenges for operators on fiber projects. Bits often are worn down prematurely and can increase difficulty of steering adjustments. To boost performance in these conditions, drill bits with a hard surface protect the tool from an abrasive environment, extending their usable life. Additionally, replaceable, angled carbide teeth improve longevity and increase cut productivity. The Ditch Witch Tuff bit and TriHawk bits are designed specifically for hard ground, and if drilling in hard rock, the Rockmaster TCI rotary bits are designed specifically for our All Terrain drills, to improve productivity and accurate steering. 

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When installing fiber in rocky conditions, you may or may not require a backreamer and enlarged hole. For fast installation in this environment, the Ditch Witch Swab reamer flushes the hole with proper drilling fluids without enlarging the hole. If the project does call for an enlarged borehole, however, Rockmaster reamer helps operators productively install fiber conduit by enlarging the hole in solid rock.

Understanding ground conditions and selecting the correct tooling is a first step for any fiber job.  For more information on the full suite of Ditch Witch HDD tooling, please visit http://www.ditchwitch.com/catalog/hdd/index.html.


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