boost-rock-trenching-efficiencyTrenching and rock excavation projects are always tall tasks. The inherent uncertainty and variability of rock strength (measured in psi or MPa) and quality (degree and spacing of fractures) makes bidding these projects a challenge and predicting production rates even more so.

These projects involve a substantial amount of preparation and diligent attention until completion. Project managers have to constantly monitor progress because each situation is different and provides its own unique set of challenges.

In addition to making sure the project is completed as efficiently as possible, project managers are also worried about the inherent dangers that accompany trenching.

If you’re looking to improve your process for digging precise trenches for utility lines, here are a couple reasons Alpine’s cutterheads and RockWheels can provide a more precise and efficient solution.

Cutterheads Increase Efficiency

Alpine cutterheads have higher production rates than hammers in most applications. In general, hammers afford operators less control which can create unstable trench walls and unintended overbreak resulting in more costly excavation. This excess material often needs to be transported off site to be crushed even further, not to mention needing more backfill for the overbreak, which is a costly practice that quickly adds extra expenses to your project.

Transverse cutter heads equip you with superior control creating narrower, safer trench walls. Cutter heads can also eliminate up to 50% of excavation volume by cutting only the needed trench width, where a hammer needs a “V” shaped opening (see diagram). Cutterheads have the ability to grind crush rock to a consistent enough size that it is able to be used as fill matter on site. This creates an increased level of efficiency that can pay huge dividends for your trenching project.    

Transverse Cutter Heads Have Unmatched Precision

Transverse cutter heads provide you with surgical precision maximizing your control of the project. If you’re digging a utility line, a transverse cutter head will allow you to safely work around any existing utilities. This precision cut is controlled enough to leave the surrounding rock mass intact, unlike the shock force of a hydraulic hammer which can cause force fractures in the surrounding rock.

One great aspect of cutterheads is that precision does not come at the expense of power. Cutterheads are fully capable of cutting through several layers of hard surfaces including rock, pavement, and concrete. The additional precision helps your company limit expensive backfill and surface patching costs. The ability to provide sufficient power while greatly increasing precision makes transverse cutterheads a great solution for your trenching needs.

Here is a video of the Alpine TC-E transverse cutter head in action digging a precise trench in Las Vegas, Nevada.



As you can see, transverse cutter heads are extremely efficient and can help you dig your desired trench exactly the way you want while crushing rock, concrete, and pavement to a size that allows it to be used as fill matter. Transverse cutter heads also provide an unrivaled level of precision in their cuts that can gently grind to a matter of inches instead of crushing with brute force like a hydraulic hammer.

Thanks to these benefits cutter heads provide a compelling alternative to hydraulic hammers. When in the process of digging a precise trench for a utility line, a transverse cutter head could prove to be just the tool you need to make your project successful.