The horizontal directional drilling industry has grown significantly since the early days of trenchless pipe-laying. Many technological innovations have helped improve the performance of drill rigs and at the same time have added features that enhanced accuracy and efficiency. These days, directional drilling is widely preferred as the method to use when installing utility pipes and conduits.
Innovation in the HDD industry
The horizontal directional drilling industry has benefited significantly from continuous technological innovation. Many of these innovations solved earlier challenges experienced by directional drilling companies. With the latest and the best equipment and processes available, there is no doubt that trenchless pipe-laying is considered superior over conventional trenching. Here is a closer look at some of the technologies that revolutionised the industry.
Self-contained drilling rigs
Drill rigs used to have separate units for power and for connecting the drill pipe. Having the central part of the drill rig separated from the power source can be difficult especially for large projects. Self-contained drilling rigs available today resolved many of these problems because the rig, pipe, and the power source are included in a single machine.
Drill rigs today have improved capacities and enhanced underground guiding systems. Directional drilling today can drill at lengths that were considered impossible decades ago. Today, drill rigs can start working on opposite ends and meet in the middle to intersect conduits. It is remarkable because this capability overcomes much of the limitations of this method.
HDD navigation system
Directional drilling guiding systems have also undergone significant development in the past several years. With sophisticated location and tracking systems, the drill rig operator can accurately track the location of the pipe and project the exact exit point.
PVC pipes that can be fused have also helped in the development of the directional drilling industry. It has solved one of the problems associated with trenchless technology, which is pipes bursting. By being able to install pipes in segments and fuse them underground, bursting is reduced thus increasing the acceptance and adoption of directional drilling.
Assessing pipe conditions
In determining the condition of existing pipelines, CCTV was the prevalent technology and has been for a long time. But the use of other techniques such as acoustics and sonar is also growing as a preferred method by pipeline system owners to quickly assess and monitor the condition of pipes in various sections. These days, there are also tools specifically used to scan utility holes and determine areas that need repair.
Techniques in handling directional drilling slurry
Handling the slurry produced during directional drilling continues to be a challenge for contractors. But these days, new equipment is available to recycle mud and shale. There have also been some significant developments in the drilling fluids used which further reduce the earlier challenges of dealing with the waste and slurry produced during drilling.
Improving ground conditions
In the past, trenchless drilling was impossible in certain ground conditions. Nowadays, specific techniques such as freezing, grouting, and cutting off groundwater can help make directional drilling feasible.