Installing underground cables for the telecommunications sector requires specialized tools. Read on to learn more about these special underground cable tools and how you’ll use them.
Trenching tools dig open trenches on the surface of workable ground, down to the depth where underground cables will lay. There are large ride-on trenchers and trenching attachments that give skid steer loaders trenching capabilities. Both these tools work much more quickly and effectively than digging trenches by hand with a shovel.
Restoring land after trenching can be expensive, so it’s rarely used in urban areas. It’s more commonly used when laying cables under undeveloped land.
Like trenching tools, plowing tools also dig a trench-type hole along the ground as deep as cables should lie. The plow blade cuts a trench through the soil, leaving a path for the cables.
There are two key types of plowing tools:
- Static plows: machines with static plow blades best suited for open spaces. With fewer moving parts, they require less maintenance than vibratory plows.
- Vibratory plows: the most popular plow type, as the plow blade vibrates to help it move more effectively through the earth. They also don’t need the open space of static plows.
Using plowing tools is faster than using trench tools. However, operators don’t have the degree of control as trenching affords. They must monitor the job carefully to ensure cables aren’t damaged during the plowing process. Like trenching, it’s most commonly used for laying cables under undeveloped land.
Boring tools drill holes in the ground for cables to pass through. Boring tools are most commonly used for laying cables under surfaces that can’t be directly worked on, such as railway crossings and buildings. As these surfaces can’t easily be disturbed, the boring tool goes underneath to minimize disruption above.
Two main types of boring tools are used when laying underground cable:
- Directional boring tools: mini or small drilling rigs used for laying cable in a fairly shallow arc.
- Horizontal directional drilling tools: large drilling rigs used for laying long lengths of cable, usually deep under the ground.
You’ll use the same three-step process with both types of boring tools:
- Drill a small pilot hole from one point from the cable’s entry point to its exit point.
- Drill a large hole following the same path, large enough for the cable to pass through.
- Pull the cable through the hole.
Boring tools used to be very expensive, but they’ve fallen in price since their introduction. While they are still usually pricier than plowing and trenching tools, renting rather than buying brand new further closes the gap.
Cable Pulling Equipment
Cable pulling equipment helps underground cable installers pull cables through holes with multiple bends. This type of equipment is especially useful in jobs where the cables are buried under the ground. Cable pulling equipment is versatile enough to work with copper, aluminum, and fiber cables.
Cable pulling equipment is fairly simple, so the technology has remained largely unchanged for decades. However, there have been some minor advances over the years, including the introduction of:
- Smaller, easier-to-handle pulling grips.
- Grips made from non-corrosive materials that won’t rust in harsh, wet environments.
There are three main types of cable pulling equipment:
- Pulling grips: help contractors reduce the risk of snags during underground cable installation and removal.
- Support grips: single-use tools that support the weight of cables used in vertical and sloping runs.
- Strain-relief devices: prebend cable at turns before installation and remove overflexed, damaged electrical cables.
Using Underground Cable Tools
You’ll need certification to use most underground cable tools. Most major equipment manufacturers, including Vermeer and Ditch Witch, offer training and certifications.
During the licensing process, you’ll learn how to identify the best tool size and type for your underground cable jobs. Training in the safe handling and operation of these tools is another key part of the certification process. Some tools, such as boring tools, require more training than others, such as trenchers. Working in urban areas also requires more training than working in rural areas with more open spaces. Never operate an underground cable tool without the proper licensing and training in its use.
BigRentz has a wide range of the latest underground cable tools. Our friendly employees can advise you on which underground cable tools will best suit your job and offer you the best prices. Whether you have a small underground cabling job or a much larger project, call us at 888-325-5171 to ask about our low rental rates.