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Modern Contractor Solutions January 2012 : Page 50

TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS FROST FIGHT N By Bryce Goodell Challenging winter utility installations have a contractor seeing infra-red. great for legislators, o matter where causing them to put a you live, stop to the practice. underground The coal-burning utility installations get a ban created serious lot more difficult when issues for ATCO’s the ground freezes. service contractor for However, the last several the Skyview Ranch job. years have proven to The contractor couldn’t be especially tough for bring large excavators contractors in Calgary, in to rip through the Alberta, Canada, ever frost—partly because since their traditional of the heightened risk ground-thawing of damaging existing techniques of coal underground utility lines, burning were outlawed. but also because mini In fact, the new rules excavators were the only have severely slowed machines small enough most wintertime utility to access the jobsite. installations in the city, Unfortunately, mini as contractors have excavators didn’t have struggled to find new the power to dig through ways to fight the frost. frost, so without some Perhaps no one has method of heating the felt the effects as much ground, the contractor as ATCO Gas, the area’s couldn’t install the gas natural gas distributor. lines. During December 2010, When it was Calgary’s Skyview Ranch determined that the development was in a service contractor simply bind to supply services didn’t have the tools or to the new commercial the time to complete buildings on its property. the task, ATCO started By this point all utilities considering other were installed, except options. That’s when gas. Three commercial The infrared heaters are placed end-to-end to cover the frozen ground, allowing the mini ATCO heard its seasoned buildings urgently excavator to dig the trench for the gas line. mains-installation needed gas by the contractor, Dunwald & Fleming Enterprises Ltd., had recently first of January, and several more buildings requested it soon purchased some infrared heating devices. The new technology thereafter. Christmas was rapidly approaching, so schedules boasted to thaw ground faster than any other method, so ATCO were extremely tight. To complicate matters even more, 1 meter quickly asked Dunwald & Fleming to step in and put the heaters (3.28 feet) of frost had already formed in the ground. to the test. OUT WITH THE OLD Several years ago, the frost might not have presented such a problem. Calgary’s utility contractors would have laid straw beds and used burning coals to thaw a path of frozen ground. Then, excavators could trench along the path for the gas lines. Despite the lack of sophistication, this method worked somewhat effectively. Nonetheless, the environmental concerns were too IN WITH THE NEW The new infrared heaters were Serious Toasters from Serious Thermal Products. Each Toaster measures only 10-feet long by 2-feet wide, but multiple units can be placed together in a series according to the route of the proposed trench. They are powered by propane and run from a 110-volt power source. ABOUT THE AUTHOR 46 Bryce Goodell is a writer for The Promersberger Company in Fargo, North Dakota. He can be reached at 701.492.9194, or email bryce@promersberger.com. | january 2012 www.mcsmag.com

FROST FIGHT

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