A trench compactor, or trench roller, is a specialized machine designed for use in confined areas, such as compacting backfill in a trench. Sizes vary by width of trench or confines of the application they are meant to be used in, as well as material type they are designed to compact. They include vibratory models for granular materials like crushed rock and asphalt, pad-foot models for cohesive soils. Some models are articulated, having a mid-point pivot that allows greater navigability.
Although there are excavator-mounted trench compactors and “manual” walk-behind models, self-propelled, stand-alone machines offer enhanced worksite safety through remote-controlled operation. Driverless models allow the operator to work from a position away from the heavy, moving machine. Remote operation may be via a tethered remote control panel, a wireless control system operating on infrared technology or radio signals, or a redundant combination of two or more of these technologies. These machines usually include integrated controls on the machine itself, providing auxiliary backup.
Remote-control operation of a trench compactor is particularly beneficial in narrow, wet or difficult trenches, with an increased risk to the operator. Remote-control operation most often offers a better vantage point from which to see the trench compactor and its working area from the machine. In a narrow trench the machine is a visual obstruction.
Applications benefitting from trench compactors include conventional open-cut cable and pipeline installations and road construction. They are also used on railway, dam, landfill, residential, municipal, park and golf course construction projects, especially for sub-base and foundation work.