From the magazine

Innovate, collaborate and listen

DCI has long been at the forefront of Trenchless Technology, introducing the industry’s first walkover locating system incorporating roll and pitch measurement in 1991.

Over the years, the company has gone on to introduce a number of innovations that support additional activities associated with underground construction.

“Our goal in the early days was simple, allow distribution contractors to track the drill head underground and be more productive on their jobsites,” Mr Dowd said.

“Prior to the introduction of the DigiTrak Mark series, measuring the pitch angle of the drill head with a walkover tracking system was not possible.

“Today, no contractor would begin a bore without this capability.”

Since 1991, Mr Dowd believes Trenchless Technology has evolved well beyond its infancy in a relatively short period, and matured to a point where contractors, consulting engineers, utilities and municipalities around the world have adopted horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for a variety of underground distribution projects.

Mr Dowd believes there is a much greater acceptance of trenchless techniques today, for both mainstream construction and rehabilitation projects are facilitating the underground installation of a product that would previously have been more costly and time intensive.

Additionally, an evolution of the need to create a record of the bore has seen a significant development in the measurement of jobsite activity and performance for clients using HDD as an alternative to trenching.

Mr Dowd suggests this is due to many now realising that a more structured approach to collecting, logging and reporting each underground bore provides a complete report of jobsite productivity and gives the client a record of the work that was completed.

DCI’s newest product, the Aurora Display, addresses the growing demand for such information.

An exceedingly simple industry first, it is a connected, touchscreen colour display that allows for the use of applications designed to address specific HDD needs.

The Aurora has on-board training videos and animations, adjustable built-in safeguards alerting the rig operator to vital down hole information, such as transmitter temperature, annular fluid pressure, and the pull forces being applied to the product pipe.

Investing in education

Mr Dowd says education is the key to getting the trenchless message across, with DCI investing a lot of time into schooling contractors who use DCI equipment to help them better understand how it works, and to keep them up-to-date with the latest technologies, resulting in projects being carried out more efficiently, with less downtime, less disruption to the public, and clients willing to use the technology again in the future.

“Some of the advanced technology available with the F5 locating system has seen it specified on projects around the world, where electronic bore logs were required as part of the contract.”

Mr Dowd suggests that as well as logging the bore, other drivers of growth could be bore path planning, project execution and quality requirement, pipeline standards for HDD applications and contractor qualifications, among others.

Meanwhile, industry trends at the moment focus largely around the management of project data and developing a more connected job site.

With the data generated by trenchless equipment at today’s jobsite increasing at a rapid rate, documentation is an essential part of the project equation.

Distribution contractors are also increasingly asking for ways to measure, collect, store and report on data that is gathered throughout the project lifecycle.

Additionally, a connected jobsite is becoming an important corollary to the trend in managing project data, as innovative data collection capabilities emerge in the form of new devices, connectivity will become an important factor in managing project status and crew productivity.

As for the outlook of the industry, Mr Dowd says the future is bright.

“The NBN is something that many in the trenchless industry are looking to with interest, as we have already seen HDD heavily involved in the early rollouts,” said Mr Dowd.

“Most sectors in the Australian utility sector are accepting of trenchless, and especially HDD.”

Whether it’s a steel pipeline installed in the Surat Basin for natural gas to flow through, or a water service installed to a private property in Tasmania, HDD is known and used.

Mr Dowd says a big focus for DCI remains the managing of data and making it easier for customers to monitor, collect, store and report on jobsite data.

“Customers tell us that our products are not only helping them execute more challenging projects, but that we provide the industry’s best user experience.

“DCI will continue to develop products that help contractors get the job done, whether it’s on jobsites requiring deeper bores, greater accuracy or increasing project efficiency.”

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