Directional Drilling: A Preferred Method for Installing Utility Systems

The need for utility systems continues to increase as more cities become densely populated, and residential areas keep growing. As such, limited space has become a challenge in replacing old and installing new utility cables and lines. In addition to the limited space, residents and businesses also prefer minimal disturbance when there is an ongoing construction project. To overcome these challenges, many utility contractors turn to horizontal directional drilling as a preferred installation method.

 

Common problems encountered with open-cut trenching

 

Open-cut trenching is economical and straightforward in most scenarios but proves to be unsuitable when the project site is located in a densely populated area or when space is limited for excavation. Another problem with trenching is the higher restoration cost and the amount of disruption it can create. Without an alternative method like horizontal directional drilling, these challenging installation projects would have been abandoned.

 

When directional drilling first became available, the method was expensive and only carried out by directional drilling companies for significantly large projects. But advancements in horizontal drilling technology have made it a practical approach and economical solution for projects of every size and scope.

 

Advancements in horizontal directional drilling

 

Developments in processes and methods have impacted the feasibility of directional drilling in major and minor projects. For example, pipes made using modern and durable materials make it possible for directional drilling to install these pipes in tight spaces. Since it is now more affordable to employ directional drilling, it is a competitive solution in almost any scenario. Whether the project involves a simple replacement of a storm sewer or installing a water line for a new home, horizontal directional drilling is a possible option.

 

When is directional drilling not a feasible solution?

 

Although directional drilling is a superior method to open-cut trenching, there are still some instances when directional drilling is not the most feasible solution. For example, when the installation depth is shallow, drilling is not the optimal method. There are also some ground conditions and geothermal formations that make directional drilling impossible. In most cases when drilling is not an option, open-cut methods become the alternative.

 

Benefits of directional drilling

 

Directional drilling has the following benefits:

 

  • Directional drilling results in minimal ground disruption and restoration post-installation is relatively easier.
  • Drilling is a more efficient method of installing pipes which speeds up the project completion.
  • Directional drilling addresses concerns such as navigating through a network of existing underground pipelines.
  • Directional drilling makes it possible to install pipelines underneath major ecological formations such as rivers and streams.
  • Directional drilling cuts the cost required for hiring numerous staff in open-cut trenching.
  • Directional drilling does not result in groundwater contamination and environmental disruption.

In conclusion, directional drilling advancements have made it possible for many contractors to employ this method for minor and major installation projects. Directional drilling resolves many of the challenges and concerns associated with conventional trenching. As such, through directional drilling, installing pipes in even the most crowded urban areas and limited workspaces is now possible with high success rates.

 

Image: Pixabay.com

 

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