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Edge Underground: bringing innovation to microtunnelling

Edge Underground

Since it was established in 2010, Edge Underground has been at the forefront of the Australian microtunnelling industry, pushing its boundaries, improving equipment and finding ways to complete even the most challenging projects.

Edge Underground was founded by managing director Stuart Harrision – a well-known figure in the Australian and international microtunnelling industry as a trenchless pioneer and inventor of the AXIS laser guided boring system.

“When I first developed the AXIS in the early 2000s, it was because there was a gap in the industry for equipment that could provide high efficiency, productivity and pinpoint precision. There were machines that offered one or two of these, but not all three,” Harrison says.

“The AXIS is a versatile, pit-launched, laser-guided machine that can install pipelines on-grade and with pinpoint accuracy to within +/-5mm. I designed it so that the head and cutter style or configuration can be swapped out to deal with changing ground conditions, making it the most versatile machine on the market.”

The AXIS is now a leading machine on the market. It is the most accurate, and it has been designed with a host of unique features, such as the ability to perform pilot lines and retract to reduce problems occurring from unexpected ground conditions. It also features safety elements including pressure gages and a falling object protective system (FOPS) safety enclosure.

Driving growth and development

Since developing the AXIS, Harrison has continued to push the boundaries of its capabilities. He encourages his team to find ways to improve practices, products and design to make microtunnelling a competitive alternative to open-cut.

This mindset has allowed Edge Underground to set benchmarks for the industry and take on some of the most challenging pipeline installations that other contractors have avoided.

In mid-2019, the company set a new benchmark for pipeline installation when it was subcontracted to install 180 m of pipe, comprising five separate lines of pipe on grade in six days.

Edge Underground used a sewer max pipe – a pipe type that is not conventionally known for use in pipe jacking. However, as the ground was very stable, the team knew it would be able to install it without any structural damage, save the project a substantial amount in funds.  

Harrison recalls that in another project, Edge Underground completed a high-risk project no other contractor wanted to take on. A pipeline needed to be installed 12-14 m deep and the project posed a high chance of wedging occurring due to ground conditions – a combination of extreme hard rock with seams of clay and fractures.

Using the AXIS’ unique retract feature, the team performed a pilot line to inspect and confirm ground conditions in order to configure the reaming tool to best suit conditions for pipe jacking, allowing the project to be completed successfully. 

“These are just a couple of examples of what we’ve been able to achieve with innovation and looking at how we can achieve better outcomes on more projects,” Harrison says.

“The exciting thing is there is still a lot of scope for evolution in the microtunnelling industry and I look forward to what advancements we can achieve next.”

For more information visit the Edge Underground website. 

This article appeared in the ASTT 30th Anniversary Edition. 

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