UCon @ ICUEE: Day 2

Day 2 at ICUEE started out chilly but clear and sunny, and the convention breathed a collective sigh of relief. Since it was a little slow to warm up, though, most of Underground Construction started the day off indoors.

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UCT@ICUEE sessions were going strong. Seventy-four attendees showed up for the presentation by Virginia Utility Protection Service CEO Rick Pevarski on GPS locating technologies for the underground utility market, even if a few were latecomers, and 85 turned in their tickets to hear Ditch Witch’s Mike Dvorak take on good pipe tracking and locating practices.
The GPS locating session with Rick Pevarski at UCT@ICUEE.

In the exhibit hall, we checked in with Underground Devices regional sales manager Chris Greene. UD is soft-launching a new cable rack system, the BNT Nonmetallic Cable Support unit, picking up on a Southeastern U.S. habit of calling the saddles cables rest in “bents.” It’s rustproof, made of glass and synthetics and allows for easy adjustment of one level of cables without disturbing the ones below. Watch for more in the next quarter.

Hannay Reels, meanwhile, is using thehard economic times to try to put distance between them and the competition. The company has doubled thoroughput capability since last year, improved its spring reel operation to smooth cable deployment and retooled its reel casing to become totally corrosion-resistant even for industries that tend to wind up cables wet. “People are sitting still waiting for stuff to happen—we’re trying to keep on top of it,” explained Randy Lawry.

At CETCO Drilling Products creative applications is the name of the game. They’re seeing a boost in popularity for Grounding Grout, an organic bentonite that’s been out for a few cycles in the general market but has been a sleeper seller to the wind power market. The grout can lower a grounding system’s resistance from 300 ohms per meter in normal soil to .76 ohms/meter. A better reason to visit CETCO’s booth before noon tomorrow, though, is to get the inside scoop on regional managers Todd Tannehill and George Dugan’s latest escapades. Go give these guys a hard time.
Todd Tannehill, left, and George Dugan of CETCO.

Once the weather had warmed up sufficiently to allow self-respecting Texans like the Underground Construction crew outdoors, it was off to an event at Astec. Astec has more new products in bigger sizes than you can shake a stick at. The RT1200 Ride-on Trencher is designed for ergonomics and operator comfort, while meeting Tier 3 emissions standards to be suitable for the European market. The trencher has crab-wheel steering to increase maneuverability and defy gravity when necessary. It boasts 115 horsepower, switches between rubber tire and tracks and the first models are hot off the line. The RT 800, the updated version of the RT 662, is the model’s younger sibling, although available only with rubber tires for the time being.

The RT 800 and Gaylord Richey of Astec.

The EarthPro 4550X, meanwhile, is built to serve a market Astec sees on a fast upward curve: U.S. geothermal. As Astec’s Dan Sharpe explained, in southern Europe 75 percent of new construction taps into geothermal energy. In northern Europe, it’s 90 percent. In the United States, the market is one half of one percent, and with the pressure on to find new, clean sources of renewable energy, geothermal is a sector to watch. The 4550X addresses many of the common complaints from contractors in the U.S.: it’s a one-man operation, with automated pipe loading, a rack and pinion system design for dependability and all service points located at one site on the side of the machine, as near to ground level as this skyscraper can manage. The unit offers the choice between air compressor technology or standard drilling fluids and runs on a Caterpillar Tier 3 engine. The prototype model has already been sold to a company in Ohio that helped with development.

American Augers has a new generation of their biggest auger boring machine, the 84/96-1800. This unit can install 96-inch pipe with near 300,000 foot-pounds of torque, and uses a rack and pinion system for increased safety. The DD-440T horizontal directional drill and MCR-10000 Drilling Fluid Cleaning System are on site too, large and in charge.
Jim Lee of American Augers/Astec shows Donna Harbacek around the 84/96-1800.

At TT Technologies, since Underground Construction has already seen the new Mini-Grundotugger [http://undergroundconstructionmagazine.com/tt-technologies-introduces-trenchless-line-replacement-mini-grundotugger], we got the scoop on the KW 3000 Grundowinch. Suitable for small-diameter pipebursting, lateral bursting, telecom/fiber optic jobs, and sliplining among other applications, the Grundowinch is a three-ton constant-speed cable puller with 3280 feet of 3/8” cable. It will never exceed the tonnage you set as the limit for the materials you’re pulling, and it will print a receipt and copy data to a standard, removable memory card to prove that it didn’t to any supervisory crew or worried client. The touchscreen and the printout display the length and force of the pull at all times to prove you’ve never stretched the liner, fiber, pipe, or cable. The unit can also be used to pull cameras or UV curing lights. Speed averages 39 or 40 feet per minute. Four have been sold already.

The TT Technologies booth has a few more surprises in store, too. Talk to Eddie Ward or Brad Mincher about the surprising breakthroughs going on in the pits in front of TT’s booth K110, and tell them the Underground Construction blog sent you.
TT Technologies' researchers on press reactions to the unexpected. Right: Brad Mincher.

Vacuworx secured an outdoor booth at the last minute, and if you haven’t stopped by indoors you may not have put it on your list of places to stop, since it’s not in the show program. But the Pipe Handler demo is worth making some time in your schedule. The devices attach to any brand excavator and uses vacuum power and a fitted pad to lift any diameter of pipe as well as plate and slabs, up to 20 tons. The pads switch out in five minutes, and Vacuworx rents and leases the equipment to those not in a position to buy. The operator picks up the demo pipe like a paperclip to a magnet, and first lifts it and gently returns it to the ground before he starts showing off and swinging it around like a carnival ride. You don’t even have to appreciate the applications to enjoy the show.
Some younger ICUEE attendees take in the Vacuworx show.

There’s not much show left, but there’s a lot still to see. Stop any of us from Underground Construction on the grounds tomorrow, and we’ll give you your very own free magazine.

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