Trenchless Technology

JAN 2019

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Page 51 of 67

North Fork Valley around the same time, which led to an equipment fleet expan- sion. Neal said they added a small Ver- meer trencher, followed by a Vermeer PTX40 plow/trencher, and then a Ver- meer XTS1250 ride-on tractor and two Vermeer V8550 trenchers as they picked up more mainline installation work. Growth Spurt Unfortunately, as work was picking up for the Neals, the family 's friends and neighbors that worked at the coal mines were being laid off as several lo- cal mines were being forced to close due to the rise of other energy sources. Lightworks Fiber was in need of help, and according to Neal, he knew the work ethic of most of the miners he had spent time with would translate well to the fiber industry. " We hired a bunch of people in our first big growth spurt and continue to add individuals as we've ramped up to 130 employees," he add- ed. "Many of the people we hire didn't know a lot about telecom, but they were willing to learn and do the work." Today, more than 90 percent of Lightworks Fiber 's workforce have ties to mining , and the team works throughout the United States. The company 's services include duct placement , blowing and pulling fiber, fusion splicing and testing . Also, the team just recently got into horizontal directional drilling . "Since opening our doors, we talked about getting into directional drilling , but we knew we needed to have the right person to get us started," Neal ex- plained. " We found that person when we hired Larry Daniels. He's been op - erating drills for 35 years." HDD Creates New Opportunities Lightworks Fiber purchased two hori- zontal directional drills a little more than a year ago — a Vermeer D24x40 Se- ries II Navigator horizontal directional drill (HDD) and a Vermeer D16x20 Nav- igator HDD. The demand for HDD work quickly grew from there, and the com- pany has since also invested in two Ver- meer D20x22 S3 Navigator HDDs and a Vermeer D10x15 S3 Navigator HDD. Lightworks Fiber has all of its drills working near its main office in Hotchkiss, Colorado, and the state's Western slope. The project that is keeping his crews busy right now is a 32,000- fiber instal- lation project. Teams are using a Vermeer D20x22 S3 with Mincon air hammers to work their way through the area's hard rocky ground. Aer the pilot bore is com- plete, they are pulling back Vermeer hole openers to expand the boreholes before pulling back 4-in. fiber conduit. " We're drilling in a lot of rock on this project , which is challenging ," Neal explained. " We're finding that the tooling we use makes a major impact on how productive we are in these conditions. Our representative with Vermeer Colorado has done a great job of helping us identify exact- ly what we need for tooling It 's really helping us stay on schedule." Bringing Fiber Home For the Lightworks Fiber team, the most rewarding part of their job is 52 T R E N C H L E S S T EC H N O LO GY JA N UA RY 2019

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