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Growing with value in the underground world


Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) will face new challenges in the next few years. Maxibor Australia chief executive officer Rodney O’Meley spoke with Trenchless Australasia to decipher the future of HDD and tunnelling activities in the Australian infrastructure sector.

Having successfully lived and breathed the challenges and growth of the industry over the past four decades, CEO Rodney O’Meley is adamant the challenges ahead for the HDD and broader underground infrastructure installation industry are becoming more complex.

Talking to Trenchless Australasia, he said the opportunity for adding even more value at a business and broader community level is substantial.

“Maxibor is proud to be playing a leading collaborative role in what will be a daunting, thrilling and important decade for the industry,” he said.

Key to the success of the industry will be collaboration across the various stakeholders. Those working together to achieve common objectives and address mutual challenges with innovative and sustainable solutions will be the ones that add the most value to their businesses and to the broader stakeholder community.

Maxibor is applying this collaborative approach in a number of ways through forging long-lasting relationships within the industry, along the supply chain and with allied professional services providers.

“The collaborative approach creates the foundation for the sharing of ideas and information,” said O’Meley.

“Good practice workplace health and safety, project planning, design engineering, contracting, technology and construction methods are all enhanced.

“This enables decisionmakers and industry professionals to make more informed decisions to provide reliable and economical solutions to the engineering, environmental and business challenges.”

Maxibor is able to demonstrate the benefits of this approach through its strong collaborative relationships with a number of local and international participants in the HDD and broader tunnelling industry.

Maxibor Australia
China Rail Construction heavy industry factory.

As an example, the company has established a close connect with Alex Tao of Ausinland. Ausinland is the Australian representative of China Rail Construction Heavy Industry (CRCHI) and other leading global equipment manufacturers servicing the tunnelling and mining industries.

Through a close collaborative relationship with Ausinland and its partners, Maxibor has gained the benefits of supply chain expertise plus access to widened knowledge and resources of other significant businesses and organisations.

The connection with CRCHI and other companies such as China Coal Technology & Engineering Group (CCTEG), Nerospec SK (Germany), Onix (Spain) and others is bringing to Maxibor access to the latest technology such as EMERST Level 9 plant intelligence.

This connection allows Maxibor to also have access to the value of the vast knowledge and experience of significant international HDD, microtunnelling and tunnelling original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and design and construct companies.

Collaborative access to this wealth of knowledge and resources is particularly valuable for the larger HDD projects that Maxibor undertakes with its fleet of maxi-rigs, powerful pumps, and cleaning systems.

It is also placing Maxibor in a much more informed position as it continues to explore microtunnelling opportunities in partnership with others.

Maxibor is also successfully applying the collaborative approach to the delivery of small to medium sized HDD projects in Australia.

The projects are managed by a combination of Maxibor’s James Hand and Tim Norrish who share their in-field delivery and project management expertise with both client and subcontractor.

In the past year, the company has delivered over 50 HDD projects through the Maxibor subcontractor model to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Hand and Norrish agreed on the fact that Maxibor’s clients were happy because the work gets done to the expected Maxibor standard and there is strong support if challenges arise.

“Subcontractors are happy because Maxibor takes the pain away of having to find work and manage client relationships plus they get paid on time and their overheads are reduced,” they said.

According to O’Meley, more than ever, whether they be asset owners, tier one and tier two contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, design engineers or other professional services providers, industry participants are looking to engage beyond the transaction.

“The collaborative approach allows parties to travel together on the journey to achieving overall objectives rather than being in a one-off transactional process which is largely just about price,” he said.

Another important benefit of the collaborative approach is that it allows others not well connected with the industry to better understand the opportunities in the industry.

For instance, insurance brokers and underwriters are better able to respond to the changing risks besetting the industry.

Maxibor is working closely with its connections in the insurance industry to help achieve more appropriate insurance coverage particularly around plant, contract works and professional indemnity cover.

The company is also working closely with the equipment finance providers to develop products and provide services more responsive to the needs of the industry.

Another area of collaborative connect for Maxibor is the investor community. Tunnelling, microtunnelling and HDD are all areas of the civil construction industry which will play an increasingly significant part in the economies of both developed and developing countries.

Capital will be required to be injected into the industry if the solutions are to be delivered in a productive, safe, and environmentally sustainable manner.

A broader objective of the Maxibor collaborative journey is to enable the investor and allied professional communities to be better educated so that they can make more informed decisions about the underground world.

The collaborative approach is also central to the success of the part the infrastructure industry playing in addressing the daunting challenges of climate change.

O’Meley said Maxibor has been highlighting that HDD is an important part of climate change adaptation action required to mitigate the increasing frequency and impact of fire, wind, flood, inundation, drought, extreme heat and rain bombs.

Sustainable use and development of underground space will be an important part of the process to address the challenges presented by urbanisation and environment.

The tunnelling industry will play an important role with the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) headlining the large road and rail infrastructure projects with microtunnelling and HDD providing the connection of services.

The collaborative approach of Maxibor and others is enabling them all to be better informed and positioned to participate in underground world solutions.

“We can best achieve the desired outcomes by working in a collaborative way. Maxibor encourages others to be part of its collaborative network and help build a future we all look forward to,” O’Meley said.

This article featured in the August edition of Trenchless Australasia. 

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