A trench compactor, also known as a trench roller, is a piece of light equipment used to compact the soil in a narrow space such as a trench. It is usually powered by a gasoline or diesel engine.
These trenches are narrow because utility lines are often buried underground. After an excavator or trencher digs the trench, and the utilities are laid, dirt is backfilled into the trench and then compacted to ensure it doesn’t settle over time.
Underground construction can also be used for foundation work. In any case, the soil at the bottom much be compacted to ensure whatever is at ground level remains secure.
Trench rollers can be walk-behind models allowing workers to work the machine back and forth over the soil to compact it. But trenches are dangerous work spaces, so some trench compactor manufacturers have developed remote control units. As the roller compacts the soil in the bottom of the trench, the operator can control it from outside of the trench.
As with other types of compactors, a trench roller can come with smooth drums or with padfoot—or sheepsfoot—drums. The padfoot drum allows for the kneading of high-cohesion soils to ensure sufficient compaction.