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TNT Services Completes FTTP Installation with GRUNDOMAT

17.08.20 - The expansion of fibre-optic networks in rural areas throughout the Midwest of the USA continues to gain momentum. As large communications companies and regional providers start to settle in small towns, there is a great need for utility contractors, who are able to complete FTTP (Fibre-To-The-Premises) projects effectively and efficiently.
TNT Services from Pipestone recognized the need for high quality fibre optic installations in rural southwest Minnesota very early and has already gained 15 years of experience in the underground pipe installation field. With further fibre-optic installation projects on the horizon, Tim Totmann, the TNT Service Manager, was toying with the idea of extending his fleet with a further bore rig and decided to get in touch with Mark Dorn at TT Technologies. Dorn said: “Tim asked me about GRUNDOMAT soil displacement hammers, because he was looking for a replacement or extension for his existing machines. I informed him about the advantages of the reciprocating stepped head and the support TT Technologies offers. We quickly agreed that an on-site demo would be a great opportunity.” The demo consisted of two 8 m length bores in house driveways, each taking about 12 minutes. Impressed by the speed and accuracy of the bores, as well as the low air consumption of the soil displacement hammer, Totman wanted to use the hammer for his fibre optic projects.

The GRUNDOMAT is versatile and can be applied for numerous trenchless applications. “Soil displacement hammers are used for water, gas, canal, electrical and FTTH applications. Furthermore, they are very economical for the shorter bore projects, as was the case with TNT Services, compared to the steerable bore systems,” according to Dorn.

Fibre-to-the-home / fibre optics into the house

TNT Services, currently a sub-contractor for a regional telecommunications company, is participating in a FTTH-project, comprising numerous construction measures with upgraded fibre-optic systems for households in smaller towns in the southwest of Minnesota.

“We bore from the starting pit right up to the houses, the bore lengths have average lengths between 6 and 12 m. Sometimes we bore underneath driveways, paved alleys up to all types of landscaping near houses. Our starting and target pits usually have dimensions of 1,0 m x 15 m. We even have a small trencher to prepare these starting pits. We lay the excavated soil on a plastic cover, so that it can be quickly and easily filled back in again,” according to Totmann.

The soil conditions in this area were a big challenge, as hard loamy soils are difficult to master in dry and wet conditions. However, for the soil displacement hammer, these soil conditions are no problem at all. The multi-cutter cone of the GRUNDOMAT is equipped with a pressure spring and pushes itself forward together with the machine casing. In doing so, it creates a pilot bore, which supports the target precision of the soil displacement hammer. The stepped head enables the GRUNDOMAT to drive through difficult ground conditions, without deviating from its course. The two-man teams from TNT Services therefore manage four to six fibre-optic installations per day. Most of the time they install protection pipes with smaller diameters and then push the fibreglass cable in afterwards, but sometimes the cables are already embedded. As soon as the fibreglass is in place, the utility company can establish the connections. Totman explained: “We don’t carry out the connection work ourselves, but we make sure that the pipe gets from A to B. Normally this would mean from the starting pit right up to the house. We carry out the bore and then pull the protection pipe in with the compressed air hose in reverse mode. We often have short bore paths and small diameters. In this case we have protection pipes with Ø 2 cm and a bore diameter of 4,5 cm. In other cases we pull the soil displacement hammer out of the bore hole in reverse mode, then push insulation tape through and use that to pull the fibreglass or protection pipe back.”

Positive publicity work

“Bores in neighbourhoods can cause disturbances. Once residents see us with a shovel in our hands, they can easily get worried, but we take the time to show them that we are not going to destroy their gardens or the pavement. Most residents find it hard to believe that we can manage all this with an air compressor and a small tool. Then out comes the plate of cookies, when work is done and we are cleaning up,” Totmann is happy to add.
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