What’s New in Horizontal Directional Drilling Today?

When horizontal directional drilling was a relatively new technique used in the utility industry, the market was less crowded, and so was the ground. There were fewer pipes underneath it, and the preferred method back then was to install conduits using open trenches at a shallow depth. These days, however, the subterranean landscape has changed significantly, and any project involving HDD has become quite challenging.

If you are a directional drilling contractor, you will need to deal with pipes installed at varying levels underground. These include power lines, water lines, gas lines, and fibre optics. But in line with the increasing demand for HDD, tracking technology is keeping up with the pace and is able to provide the necessary tools and equipment to help contractors navigate the landscape and find a suitable path for new conduits.

A new range of HDD equipment

The tools, drill rigs, and equipment used today by contractors perform better. From the time the project is planned, until its execution, the success rate is higher than ever. With decades of data available in the field of HDD, drilling experts have a better understanding of what is needed to succeed in directional boring. The design process has changed dramatically, and the drilling fluids used today are better than before. Contractors can also use electronic devices to track the bore path and the drill head while it is underground. Indeed, the technology available today is an advantage that was not available to HDD contractors two decades ago.

Sophisticated drill rigs

In addition to the innovation in HDD design, drill rigs have also improved in power and performance. Drill rig manufacturers know that aside from making sure that machines are reliable, these rigs also need to deliver in terms of productivity and speed. Contractors today can choose from a range of drill rigs depending on the ground conditions. For example, some machines are optimised to work in urban landscapes featuring a more compact body, but matched with enough power in terms of torque and pullback force.

Some manufacturers can customise the configuration of a drill rig for maximum performance and utility. This way, the contractor can match the machine with the intended application. Drill rigs today also have smart electronics which can sense when the operator is distracted or not paying attention. When this happens, the engine will automatically start idling, which helps in ensuring the safety of the operation.

Innovation in drill pipe technology

Drill pipes are generally designed based on the drill rig’s torque and the type of application. But some drill pipe manufacturers today are producing drill pipes that can universally match drills made by competitors so that if the customer is using a fleet of mixed machines, they will no longer need to look for a different supplier for their drill pipes.

By increasing the sophistication of machines and equipment used in HDD, contractors remain competitive in a growing industry. With the possibility of more engineering breakthroughs coming, the entire HDD sector will continue to adjust and meet the demand for trenchless pipe laying across various sectors.

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