Trencher triumph for the Space Surveillance Telescope in Exmouth

July 2017

A new space surveillance telescope is to be relocated from New Mexico to an elevated position north of the township of Exmouth. The purpose of the installation is to track satellites and any space junk which may pose the threat of collision with those satellites.

Sitzler is the lead contractor that will be managing the design and construct package to provide an access road and foundation for the telescope.

DM Civil has been contracted to provide trenching services for the water, power and communications connections from the Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station up to the telescope complex. Several stakeholders in mid-2016 approached us, during the bidding period, when the route selection revealed that hard rock excavation would be required. DM Civil’s trenching rock saws were recognised as the tool of choice for such a task.

The route track approximately 6 kilometres from the existing Harold E. Holt facility back to the West to a hilltop and includes 3 creek crossings. The creek crossings were cut 3 metres deep and required a double cut to ensure working room for the numerous ducts and pipes to be installed. Our TRS1475 trenching machine was engaged and prepared for the job.

The machine was adapted for the conditions, with the boom strengthened with additional welding to high stress areas and the pads having a further layer of hard facing to the contact ends to assist in the preservation of the outermost cutting teeth. To ensure for any onsite maintenance, a 40 foot sea container was loaded with spare parts including pads, cutting teeth and spare drive motors.

Our trenching machine has been able to tackle the rugged conditions. The site’s geology ranges from tight silty sands similar to Pindan on the lower section and becomes rocky with increased elevation. The 3 creek crossings contain coarse alluvial sands and pebbles overlying hard rock at depths of around 3 metres. The final elevated section of the trench route near the telescope housing location, exhibited hard sandstone mixed with a darker extremely abrasive material. This material was hard enough to strip out 100 teeth from the cutting pads in a 12 hour day. This certainly worked the machine as it consumed up to 90 litres of diesel per hour. The hard rock sections are complete and the TRS1475 is now powering through the remainder of the route and expected to be complete around the end of July.

Our client is pleased with our progress and the work ethic of our operators and boilermakers. Shifts have been adapted to ensure that we meet production targets. It has been a great effort by the crew members who have been dedicated to achieving this schedule. This demonstrates our capacity to provide reliable high production in rugged conditions. Our efforts have vindicated the client’s decision to seek out our services and engage us based on our reputation and class of machinery.

DM Civil has specialised intrencher hire plant and equipment to partner with contractors in the delivery of their projects. We have extensive experience with trenching machines for a variety of ground conditions, which offers flexible, reliable and cost effective alternatives over traditional excavation methods.