From the magazine, Microtunnelling, Pipe jacking, Tunnelling

Leading the way in the Top End

Mr Lockett, who currently resides in Darwin, began his involvement with the trenchless industry in the early 1990s working as a construction engineer in Melbourne for Ballarat Central Highlands Water (CHW). It was here that he became involved with installing several watermains under rail lines and bridge abutments. This provided an opportunity to become involved with microtunnelling and pipe ramming techniques. It was shortly after this that CHW began renewing AC watermains with numerous driveways to negotiate, which led Mr Lockett to start looking for less intrusive methods to use rather than conventional trenching.

At this stage, pipe bursting was in its infancy, so Mr Lockett turned his gaze to works in progress in both Sydney and Melbourne for inspiration. CHW trialled different methods, and started experimenting with sewer replacements and upgrades using trenchless techniques. The less invasive techniques proved successful, and Mr Lockett has continued to be involved with a wide range of trenchless projects ever since.

Mr Lockett believes the ASTT plays an important part in the development of the industry by providing forums where technical and product information can be presented and shared. Furthermore, the ASTT actively facilitates the development of guidelines, technical and training standards for the industry.

When asked what the future holds for the trenchless industry, Mr Lockett said “Over my career I have witnessed a constant growth in the use of Trenchless Technology.

“With the increasing awareness within the broader community of the impacts that the construction industry has on the environment, I can only see a greater emphasis being placed on trenchless techniques for dealing with both new and old infrastructure. The future to me seems very promising for long-term growth.”

Mr Lockett said the industry has matured a lot in the last five to ten years, along with a lot of supporting products being developed in recent years that have added to the industry’s success. Additionally, the ability to drill over longer distances has opened up many more potential projects to the industry.

When asked about projects he has worked on that have been particular highlights of his career, Mr Locket said most of the projects he has worked on he has found exciting to work on in one way or another.

“The first few jobs were certainly up there as I was pushing new boundaries for myself and my employer. My current project is exciting. It involves finding suitable techniques to build a sewage outfall into the Darwin Harbour.

“This has numerous challenges including variable flow rates, long distance, restricted access, large tide ranges and strong cross currents, and a sensitive environment – including the occasional crocodile.”

Mr Lockett has lived in Darwin since 1998, when he took up a position as a construction engineer with the Northern Territory Government. He describes Darwin as an interesting place to live, providing unique challenges to underground assets due to its “÷chequered history’ – having been destroyed by cyclones and heavily bombed during the second World War.

One example Mr Lockett gives that highlights this “÷chequered history’ is a project he was working on shortly after moving to Darwin. He was looking after a project constructing a distribution watermain to boost supply into the central business district. Part of this work involved drilling under an intersection, and about halfway through the drilling the drill hit something solid. Initial investigation revealed that the drill had struck a cylindrical object with a rounded end and no one knew just what it was, but it could have been a bomb.

Mr Lockett said “The intersection was opened up over the object and as it turned out it was just an old lamp post that had been buried as cyclone rubbish before the area was developed. You just never know what you will find.”

Mr Lockett describes the trenchless industry as one of collaboration, saying “I have found the industry as a whole to be very supportive with advice being provided from suppliers, manufacturers and contractors on many occasions.”

Mr Lockett’s advice to new entrants in the industry is to do their homework and learn as much as they can about the area they wish to concentrate on, and also to “know your limitations. You can never know enough about the ground conditions and existing infrastructure when dealing with Trenchless Technology.”

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