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Edge Underground evolves with the industry

Through the use of trenchless technologies like microtunnelling, Edge Underground ensures reduced risks for its workers.

Although microtunnelling is still a relatively new technology, it is continuously involving as its methods are improved, making it a more reliable means of installing pipelines on time and in budget.

However, to ensure the technology continues to evolve, Edge Underground Managing Director Stuart Harrison says contractors and subcontractors need to be open to taking a flexible approach on projects to produce the best possible outcome.

A modern technology

“Developed in Japan in the 1970s, microtunnelling is still considered a new technology that is continuing to evolve as machinery and techniques continue to be improved,” says Mr Harrison.

“This means it is new enough for engineers to be wary of it—especially if they have never used it before—but also old enough for current practices and procedures to be established.

“I see our industry as in its infancy—even though it’s been around for almost 50 years—because when it was first developed, the methodology wasn’t consistent and only got it right some of the time.

“But we’ve evolved a lot since then, and little by little the methodology has been improved to the capabilities of some of the best microtunnelling machines on the market today which can consistently achieve accuracies of ±10 mm.”

Mr Harrison says the industry is still evolving and he believes the growth over the next ten years will be big and exciting.

An evolving industry

Mr Harrison says the evolution of the industry in the coming years will rely on a host of different factors including products and design, not solely on the improvement of equipment or work practices.

“It’s about pulling it all together to make a package that is truly competitive, and a true alternative to open cut,” he says.

“Before we even start a job, we’re trying to help companies eliminate risk. At the end of the day, when you get risk wrong, that’s when budgets get destroyed. So, whenever you can find a situation where you can reduce risk, you get a more accurate way of knowing what the final cost will be.

“That is a critical part of our industry moving forward; whenever we get the opportunity to create a methodology that reduces risk, we can create outcomes that everyone’s looking for.”

Working with a flexible contractor that is open to new ideas helped Edge Underground find success at this Melbourne-based project.

Edge Underground offers a piece of the puzzle

Edge Underground understands it’s not always easy to get engineers and contractors unfamiliar with microtunnelling on board with the method, but finding ways to improve and reduce jobsite risk requires everyone to be open to a flexible work approach.

“We’re a piece of a puzzle on a job site, and we offer a very specialised service to deliver a pipeline from A to B accurately in a very wide range of ground conditions,” says Mr Harrison.

“As a company, Edge Underground will take on even the hardest jobs that no other microtunnelling contractor is willing to touch, and in doing this we will look for the best and most economical way of completing the project in the provided time frame and budget.

“Sometimes this means finding an unconventional way of doing things, especially when there are challenging conditions, but everyone needs to be open to giving it a go.”

An innovative solution

This flexible approach has allowed Edge Underground to complete projects in difficult conditions and challenging time frames when other subcontractors may not.

“In one instance, we completed a 300 m PVC sewer pipeline installation in Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s inner west, which had to be completed in a tight access area near existing infrastructure, but also needed to be completed in a short time frame,” says Mr Harrison.

“There was such as tight time frame to complete the project that it would’ve been difficult to put shoring into place without taking longer than specified.

“When this happens, working with a flexible contractor that is open to new ideas is a great benefit to finding a solution to get the job done.

“We worked on this project with Eden Drainage, and working together we were able to come up with a solution; we essentially shotcreted the tight access shafts, allowing us to complete the job in the specified time.”

Mr Harrison says that having everyone on board to come up with a flexible and innovative approach to the job – rather than simply going with the conventional, preconceived idea – is what ensured the successful outcome.

This article was featured in the June 2020 edition of Trenchless Australasia. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile device, click here.

For more information visit the Edge Underground website.

If you have news you would like featured in Trenchless Australasia contact Journalist Sophie Venz at

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