Using a backhoe or excavator used to be the primary method for utility line locating, or daylighting. The industry has since determined that, for various reasons, using horizontal directional drilling paired with hydrovac is the more efficient and safer way to go. We’re going to compare the two.

Heavy construction equipment, like the backhoe or excavator, creates a larger work area than necessary, is much less precise, and is far riskier than the new methods. Striking the utility line you were trying to discover is a relatively common problem. So much so, that it is now required that a spotter be employed just to keep eyes on the work site and communicate with the machine operator. It’s a relatively destructive process that is best executed in a wide-open space, away from buildings, roadways, and residential areas. As our country’s growth expands, it is less and less common to find this kind of area. Repairing the work site to its natural state is also a requirement of excavation. The old methods made it particularly difficult to re-establish the original condition due to the damage done during the project.

Cave-ins are more likely to occur using the old methods. A plethora of considerations, data collection, and precautions are taken to ensure worker safety. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car! Before the job even begins, the site manager must classify the soil, design structural ramps, monitor water removal equipment, inspect protective systems, and monitor all progress throughout the life of the project. On-going safety concerns are traffic, proximity to nearby structures, surface and ground water, weather, surrounding utilities, and more. Water is a special threat to the security of an excavation, as the moisture can cause changes to the safety structure and impede workers from safe egress.

By contrast, the newer system of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) combined with Hydrovac makes creating a precise trench immensely easier. There is little risk of a cave-in since the trench can be engineered in such a way as to easily create safe work space. Water is used to create the trench, so impacting or severing the line is far less likely. HDD and hydrovac are both easily utilized in congested areas, and are designed to do so. Because the work area is more concise than with an excavation, repairing the grounds post-project is easier as well. Our guys at Advanced Line Systems would love to talk about your project with you! Contact us today.