Boring, HDD, Installation, Microtunnelling

Good practices for HDD project management

Maxibor, Lamb Island 330x500

Overarching this platform is a strong project management process which is applied across the full lifecycle of the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) projects it undertakes.

“Applying good practices to the management of HDD projects is essential from when the project information becoming available through to close out meetings,” says Maxibor CEO Rodney O’Meley.

“Getting it right from whoa to go is a big part of the success of Maxibor and is reflected in the respectful relationships we have been able to widely build across the trenchless industry and broader infrastructure sector.”

So, what are the key elements of good practice project management in the HDD world? They are really no different to those in other parts of project land.

However, it is important to have the experience to identify and understand the key matters you need to manage. The vision to identify and realise opportunities will also help optimise project outcomes for all stakeholders.

The key areas of good practice project management on HDD projects include:

Geotechnical data

Ground conditions are a high-risk area for HDD projects.

The ability to interpret geotechnical reports, proximity of bore sampling to designed bore hole alignment and rock strength testing methods used are just some of factors which need to be considered before design and delivery commences.


Most value can be added here. A good design engineer who can understand the relevance of geotechnical data and trenchless calculations is an essential part of the project team.

Extensive in-field delivery experience on challenging complex HDD projects is even more valuable.

Stephen Loneragan of HDD Engineering ably fits this description and has been a big part in helping successfully deliver HDD projects across the globe.

“Understanding client’s needs, technical information and resources to be used to deliver the project are essential to developing and communicating a design and construction methodology which minimises risk and optimises value,” says Mr Loneragan.

“By combining extensive field experience to design and engineering at the early project development phase, it has the ability to greatly improve constructability, which ultimately provides lowest cost and importantly, lowest risk outcome for clients.”


The key areas of contractual focus include ensuring the scope reflects what has been priced, time limits and liquidated and other damages are reasonable and causes of delay and latent conditions are either allowed for in the price as risk or will be allowed causes for time and/or cost variations.

Maxibor prepares a contracts departures schedule for each project which facilitates early conversation and a smoother project management process.

Risk and opportunity management

Maxibor has developed a comprehensive risk and opportunity register which covers the safety, environment, quality and HDD design and delivery risks.

The register of risks and opportunities is considered for each project and those more relevant to the project are actively managed.

Safety and environment

The inclusion of HSEQ personnel in the project management process is essential from the start to the finish.

Significant productivity gains can be achieved on the delivery of projects through having people safe, the environment protected, and plant and equipment well maintained and safely operated.

Scheduling of works and project tasks

The construction schedule is the roadmap to the delivery of the project. Knowing what needs to be done and when and by whom is a big part of the project.

Maxibor uses a project task register to capture key activities which need to be undertaken on each project.

Critical tasks are closely managed and regularly considered by the project management team. Understanding critical tasks and progress facilitates informed communication with the client and other stakeholders.


The main delivery resources for an HDD project are people and plant – Maxibor manages availability of staff through having multiple drill crews who can work across the maxi and other rigs.

Having one of the largest HDD fleets in Australia – four maxi-rigs, two midi-rigs and five smaller rigs along with cleaning systems, pumps and vac units overcomes many of the challenges of having the right plant available to deliver a project.

Supply chain

Having well established relationships with the supply chain overcomes many of the scheduling issues which can arise around material supply and provision of services such as pipe welding.

These relationships also help when unexpected or unusual issues arise with ground conditions, and urgent supply of special drill fluid ingredients is needed.

Stakeholder engagement 

Communication with stakeholders is easy if good project management practices are being applied throughout the project.

Applying all the above key good practices will strengthen the relationship with key stakeholders as communication can be both timely and informative.

This creates an environment which address challenges in a cooperative manner and helps to optimise outcomes for all.


The project management process needs to be conducted in a manner which has a view to attracting future business.

“It is important that trenchless industry promotes its capabilities through demonstrated successful delivery of projects,” says Maxibor National Business Development Manager David Turner.

“This is best achieved if there is a close connection between the client, project team and marketing/business development people to ensure that useful marketing content is captured and disseminated.”

Lesson learned

Steve Gibson of Devonian Group Projects has managed some of the largest infrastructure projects in Queensland and has been assisting Maxibor in further strengthening its project management framework.

“Every project has an end but we should never lose sight of that we are all on a continuous improvement path,” he says.

“Stakeholders taking time to reflect on the delivery of a project provides the means to make the next project even better.”

As a knowledge company Maxibor is more than happy to discuss its good practice HDD project management practices with others across the infrastructure sector.  

For more information visit the Maxibor website. 

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