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Andris Krumins reflects on his career in the trenchless industry

IA forecasts infrastructure boom

In a bid to celebrate the achievements and growth of the trenchless industry and the ASTT, Trenchless Australasia will be running a new question and answer segment featuring an ASTT member. In this edition, the August Trenchless Pioneer is Andris Krumins, a retired civil engineer. This is his story.

In your own words, how would you explain what the trenchless industry is? 

The trenchless industry is total underground services infrastructure construction, refurbishment, renewal and management by processes and procedures devoid of open ground excavations.

Trenchless Pioneer Andris Krumins

How did you become involved in the trenchless industry? 

I was lucky to work with innovative engineers where I was promoted to manage many world first sewer relining projects.

What is a standout trenchless project or milestone you have been involved in? 

There were many in my 46 plus years in the water industry, such as relining 1.2 metres of the Chermside Branch sewer (18-inch dia) with PVC in the late 1960’s, Australia’s first use of large diameter PE at New Farm for 2.7 miles and world first use of spiral PVC sewer lining at Isles Lane.  When these projects were done, there were no contractors in this business and work was performed by day labour.  With time this changed as the no-dig industry grew. We only provided site preparation by day labour and contractors provided the technology and work force – as in relining Brisbane’s Main Sewer with Insituform – a project of some miles of man entry sewers through the CBD to Eagle Farm with a depth op to 116 feet. 

 Early international contractors also appeared such as Monier with large projects as above and gunniting this sewer to Eagle Farm in the 1970’s in the man entry sizes of 48-inch dia to 72-inch dia.  Trenchless technologies provide solutions to new and old infrastructure extending economic lives with miniscule footprints, limiting environmental impacts on people, traffic and the environment.

What is the best part of trenchless technology? And how has it evolved since you first became part of the industry? 

Since utility industries evolved from service providers to businesses, these projects are now totally in the hands of no-dig companies with little, if any, involvement from the utilities apart from contractual and planning.

Which form of trenchless technology do you think has had the most transformation and why? 

I think directional drilling has grown.  We now provide underground services through any ground conditions, under rivers, roads, and seas, at any depth, all with minimum impacts and at low costs.  We have moved from sewers on line and grade, to curved on grade – a departure from century old givens and this opens brownfield and greenfield to unthought of services solutions.  The needs for maintenance holes in sewer works has now become unnecessary.

Where do you see the trenchless industry in the next 10-20 years?

The trenchless technology needs to highlight its ability boundaries and sell this capability to service providers and professional institutions while developing low whole of life costs by embracing electrification technology as used by the big tunnelling industry, and embrace this as a positive of the industry.

How has the industry progressed in being more diverse?

I remember many years ago, a contractor using strong Maori ladies mixing grout for relining sewers, but this has now extended beyond hard labour to professional and trade trained females who can hold their own with males in the industry.  They lead businesses, financial management and planning of projects professionally together with site supervision at project delivery as team members.  Our industry provides a real and exciting career opportunity for females.


This article appeared in the August edition of Trenchless Australasia

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