Following six years of steady stewardship, the Australasian Society for Trenchless Technology (ASTT) elected a new President at the 2015 annual general meeting. ProjectMax Co-Director Steve Apeldoorn assumed the reins from Trevor Gosatti and hopes to build on the society’s solid foundation.
Mr Apeldoorn came into the world of Trenchless Technology approximately 15 years ago while working for a local Authority Trading Enterprise in Auckland, New Zealand. There, he was appointed as the manager of a small team involved in pipe bursting and horizontal directional drilling.
“Prior to that I had been involved in inspecting and maintaining wastewater and stormwater pipelines in Manukau and Waitakere cities,” he told Trenchless Australasia.
“In 2002, when my colleagues and I established ProjectMax, I became more involved in managing pipe lining and rehabilitation of pipelines. These days ProjectMax is all about optimising pipeline renewals and we have staff with expert knowledge in all areas of Trenchless Technology.”
Currently living on Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast with his wife and two children, Mr Apeldoorn keeps very busy between ProjectMax, his family, and his commitments to the ASTT.
Over the past 20 years, Trenchless Technology has come a long way since the establishment of the ASTT, explained Mr Apeldoorn.
“It’s gone from an alternative option to being mainstream, even a first choice, in many cases, as a means of installing or renewing underground infrastructure,” he said.
Additionally, the Society’s support network and representation has enabled the technology to grow and develop, and look after its interests.
“What its members need from the ASTT has also changed from direct promotion, to ensuring that we can provide support to our members in the development of technology, ongoing education and quality of workmanship.”
However, the industry is not without its fair share of challenges. If something does go wrong during a trenchless project, people tend to blame the technology rather than understand the actual problem, continued Mr Apeldoorn.
This misdirected blame should not be levelled at the technology itself, but rather at its application, with Mr Apeldoorn citing welding of polyethylene pipes as a commonly encountered example.
“Industry education and competency is vital to ensure that, as the application of Trenchless Technology develops, unnecessary roadblocks don’t hinder its uptake,” he said.
Another vital element to overcome such issues is a unified industry voice. Individual voices providing inconsistent messages won’t work and the ASTT is best placed as a representative industry organisation to help dispel myths and misconceptions, said Mr Apeldoorn.
The future of trenchless
Looking ahead to the future, Mr Apeldoorn sees Trenchless Technology remaining a “sure part” of the construction and management of underground utilities and infrastructure.
“Utility and other asset owners will continue to need cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solutions and Trenchless Technology provides that over any other method,” said Mr Apeldoorn.
“The challenge is in the continuing innovation of more solutions that can deal with the increasingly more difficult situations that will arise – particularly in already built-up or sensitive environments. However, I find such a challenge exciting.”
Regarding the entwined future of the ASTT, Mr Apeldoorn hopes to further drive membership engagement and help develop industry best practice within the society.
“My focus is on working to make sure the society stays relevant to where we are today and provides more value for its members,” he said.
“In the short term, I would like our members to see that our small team of volunteers work very hard behind the scenes and are actively implementing initiatives to do more. I encourage as many people as possible to help us do it.”
Mr Apeldoorn is also hoping that the new Special Interest Groups now under implementation by the society will get ASTT members involved as a community around their own particular part of the sector.
“This will help drive activities that will provide meaningful value,” said Mr Apeldoorn.
Also known as SIGs, further information on Special Interest Groups can be found on page 20 in this edition of Trenchless Australasia.
Mr Apeldoorn’s last words were for newcomers to the Trenchless Technology fold. Recommending they become members of the Society, Mr Apeldoorn said newcomers should try to get as much experience in as many different trenchless fields as possible before specialising.
“Take pride in what you do and become involved in supporting the industry,” he advised.