Paul Lavelle Iplex general manager

Iplex Australia appoints new general manager

Dean Fradgley, Fletcher Building Australia’s chief executive, said Lavelle is perfectly placed to lead the Iplex business into the next phase of growth.

“Paul has delivered success for Fletcher Building since 2013 in his leadership roles with Laminex and Fletcher Insulation,” said Fradgley.

“His strong customer focus, drive for continuous improvement, and ability to influence positive outcomes will ensure the strong momentum already achieved by the team at Iplex will continue to accelerate.”

Lavelle said he was excited to be joining the Iplex business at this stage of the business journey and looked forward to working with the team and its customers.

“I am excited to execute the business vision of delivering innovative, sustainable solutions that have been, and will continue to be trusted for generations,” said Lavelle.

Lavelle’s commencement follows the appointment of Nicole Sumich to Fletcher Building’s Stramit Australia business in January.

Iplex has delivered some of the nation’s largest and most complex water infrastructure projects.  The experienced team actively works in collaboration with customers and the industry to provide safe, secure, and innovative water solutions today and into the future.

For more information visit the Iplex website.

SECA aiming to be more than just a supplier

While today it’s recognised as an industry leader, offering a comprehensive range of products from a plumber’s drain cleaning rod, to the latest in CCTV inspection equipment and software, Sewer Equipment Company Aust, better known as SECA, came from humble beginnings.

The company as it’s known today was established in 1967 when George Rose, a Sydney-based plumber registered Nordkapp Investments and was appointed the sole Australian representative for Electric Eel.

George continued to scour the world for the most innovative products and as the business expanded SECA was born.

In the late 1980s SECA started importing and selling CCTV equipment, and then in the early 1990s, around the same time the Australasian Society for Trenchless Technology (ASTT) was being conceived and incorporated, the company started to develop and manufacture water jetting units. By 1994, the company had grown to have 10 employees.

In 1995, the company started importing and selling combination and recycler trucks out of Denmark. It was in this same year that the company employed a resident Sales Representative in Queensland.

By the end of the millennium, SECA had doubled again, with their team including a dedicated employee to sell and support pipeline inspection software in Australia. Soon after, the company added its own service workshop for CCTV equipment and hired its first in-house CCTV technician, which coincided with the company acquiring the rights to distribute several other leading CCTV inspection camera systems throughout not only Australia but also New Zealand.

In 2008, the company introduced another revolutionary product to the region, acting as the sole Australian distributor of a patented formula to remove pipeline roots. At the same time SECA updated its website to include its first online shop and introduced American-made high pressure jetting machines to its product line.

By 2009, SECA now employed four full time CCTV technicians and the company moved to its current headquarters in Chipping Norton in Sydney’s southwestern suburbs, at the same time acquiring a second factory and establishing a truck/jet service division.

In 2013, SECA opened a Queensland warehouse, meaning it could support service and supply clients along the entire eastern seaboard. By 2016, the company had almost 30 employees and celebrated the milestone of supporting its first apprentice to becoming fully qualified. In the same year, the company’s Victorian base moved to its current location in Carrum Downs, featuring its own dedicated CCTV service facility.

In the years that followed, SECA continued to support the industry by continuing to supply leading products and support to the industry.

In 2020 the company was able to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19. As a supplier to an essential industry, it was largely business as usual, with SECA continuing to support its clients working out in the field.

Despite what were uncertain times, the company expanded even further, constructing SECA Academy,

its own Demonstration, Testing and Training Facility at its headquarters, as well as introducing nationally recognised CCTV courses. The Academy also provides a space for product demonstrations where customers can see any equipment in action on a fully functional pipe and drainage system complete with manholes.

More than 50 years on, SECA Managing Director Mark Quealy says these most recent diversifications represent George’s business acumen, based on growth and adaptation, but also to deliver the best for the company’s clients.

“Our mission is to provide quality sought after products from around the world and bring those products to the Australian market, as well as provide quality after sales service for the products we sell,” says Mark.

“By continuing to expand our in-house training, we can train technicians specifically to our product range.”

He says SECA has an evolving goal to ensure its customers have the best experience by providing a one-stop-shop where customers are provided with sales, support and service, plus training for the products they buy.

“We want to ensure customers get the most out of their equipment,” he says.

“By ensuring we hold enough spare parts in-house and a technician is readily available for a customer’s service needs, we want to reduce as much downtime as possible.”

Despite the current challenges that are facing nearly all businesses now, SECA is excited by the future, with several innovative and new products in the pipeline.

For more information visit

Celebrating three decades of experience and expertise

Since it was established almost 30 years ago, Austeck has established itself as one of the market leaders for pipeline maintenance and rehabilitation equipment, making it a crucial supplier of trenchless technology products to the Australian and New Zealand market.

During this period, Austeck has built up a network of more than 1,000 partners in the public and private sector, including contractors, councils and water authorities, plumbing, petrochemical and mining companies. Not only has the company supplied these companies with leading technology for the maintenance and rehabilitation of their critical infrastructure, but it has also supported them with service and training – which is vital to maximising productivity and results.

Unique relationships

This end to end capability, positions Austeck as one of the few local companies which has the experience and expertise to ensure the successful implementation of the technology into operations, and the backup service and support to guarantee the quality, security, and peace of mind for its clients. “Our relationships aren’t simple supplier/customer relationships, they’re partnerships,” says Austeck Managing Directory Tristan Day.

“We try to deliver holistic turnkey solutions to our clients starting from the initial consultation where we guide them through the decision-making process as to what technology best suits their application.

“Complete vehicle fit-outs follow, with comprehensive commissioning and training to ensure the smooth integration of the system into their routine, followed by ongoing service and support for the full life of the system.”

Looking to the future

Since the day it was established, the company has been committed to the introduction and development of state-of-the-art technology for the Australasian market, which has lead to Austeck exclusively distributing leading brands such as Rausch, Troglotech and Infosense.

“Introducing innovative and disruptive technologies from all over the world into the region has always been part of Austeck’s mission,” says Mr Day.

“It’s an essential element of our business model and imperative to maintaining relevance across the industries we serve.

“The SL-RAT from Infosense is one such example that revolutionised the way workflows for sewer maintenance is approached by delivering accurate and reliable results in minutes as opposed to hours. Another is the Rausch Omicron which facilitates Full HD mainline inspections in a compact, portable  and ergonomic configuration which is perfectly suited to Australasian conditions.” 

The most recent game changer introduced by Austeck is the Troglotech T815 crawler system, the first crawler of it’s kind equipped with an onboard battery. In isolation, this unique feature has the potential to change the way crawler systems are designed in the future.

The absence of power in the cable makes for an inherently safer, simpler and more robust system and dramatically reduces the time, cost and complexity of the cable re-termination procedure. What was once the greatest contributor to operational downtime can now be completed in less than an hour by the operator in the field. Further to this, the cable only weighs 1.5 kg per 100 m yet has a 250 kg breaking strain, meaning the tiny crawler – DN  92 mm – can traverse up to 300 m in a single run with ease.

In addition, with a pressure rating of 10 bar, the whole system, including the control centre, can operate submerged up to 100 m underwater. It can also be deployed in any weather conditions and hosed down at the end of the day with no threat of damage to the internal electronics.

The potential applications of this technology, from sewer to deep-sea, mining to petrochemical even search and rescue, is vast and with early adopters like Sydney Water and BHP already running multiple systems it is sure gain traction quickly.

“Austeck’s plan for the future is to grow and diversify by offering new and innovative solutions across a wide range of different industries,” says Mr Day.

“We will also continue to enhance and develop our core competencies as industry experts in the trenchless space as this is what we have built our reputation upon and what our suppliers and clients depend on us for.”

For more information visit

Drilling towards the future

For over 30 years, HDI Lucas has been drilling horizontally in Australia, starting with the first landfall using directional drilling in Victoria for the  Bass Strait project in 1987. HDI (Horizontal Drilling International) was established in 1984, and is an internationally recognised HDD and direct pipe contractor, headquartered in France with divisions in Brazil, Mexico and Australia.

The business structure as it is today was formed when Lucas Engineering and Construction (Lucas) was acquired in 2018 by Spiecapag. Lucas was the foundation HDD contractor in the region, having also completed its first HDD crossing in the 1980’s. 

The company remains at the vanguard of HDD projects across our region, completing projects in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, New Caledonia, New Zealand and every state and territory of Australia.

HDI Lucas General Manager John Stuart-Robertson says the company has led the way for the HDD industry regionally.

“This is one of the highlights of my nearly 30 years in the industry. We have always valued the long-term relationships we hold with our partners and clients, something which fits right in with the longevity that we all see in the people in this industry,” he says.

HDI Lucas’ projects have extended the limits of what can be achieved with HDD, such as drilling the first HDD over 2km in length when crossing the Tamar River in Tasmania in 2002. That was quickly followed by several record-breaking projects, including Australia’s longest completed HDD crossing at more than 2.4km in New South Wales, and the world’s largest HDD project in offshore Western Australia, with the installation of 9 landfall HDDs up to DN800.

While HDI Lucas’ projects tend to be mainly horizontal, not all are about drilling underneath obstacles: the company has also completed several high-angle horizontal bores for drainage, telecoms installs and other essential utilities.

Client-focused and cooperative contracting

Relationships continue to be a major focus for HDI Lucas: former clients are rarely left in the past. In 2021, as in any given year, HDI Lucas’ portfolio of projects comprises more than 50 per cent return clients. The company’s biggest projects in 2021 stretch across multiple locations in Papua New Guinea, New South Wales, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Always looking to operate as the principal contractor, HDI Lucas is part of the supply chain to clients who need deep technical experience to deal with complex conditions, and who invariably know whom to (re)turn to.

One recent project is when a major Australian pipeline infrastructure owner contracted HDI Lucas to confirm the feasibility of, and then execute, the construction of a crossing through 200 mpa+ rock, with compound curves, over a 1,300m+ drill length in an environmentally and socially constrained work site with minimal radius for installation. The company’s ability to execute projects of this technical complexity is driven by the desire to protect natural habitat and limit impact on human and animal populations.

Mr Stuart-Robertson notes that HDD has become a must have in some projects, where project owners and main contractors identify HDD as the solution early in their design phase, and engage the company to provide specialised trenchless engineering and construction.

“On another recent project, our project delivery partner had options to construct the pipeline across a harbour without using HDD, but marine trenching was not the preferred option, as it meant potentially a much longer path around the harbour and a lot more impact on the community and environment,” he says. “By using HDD, the pipeline was able to take a much more direct and optimal path, passing directly underneath the harbour and coastal creek area, avoiding excessive disruption to culturally sensitive or highly populated areas and a key transport waterway.”

Modern, adaptable, and complementary equipment

Drawing on region-leading capacity across our group, HDI Lucas has a fleet of rigs offering pulling capacity ranging from 35 to 400 tonnes. Innovation plays a big role in the plant yard, with equipment from leading European and American manufacturers, customised for optimal performance. This includes operational and safety improvements engineered in-house. The result is a fleet that allows for the trenchless installation of everything from small pipes over short distances, to large pipes of up to DN1400 more than 2km in length.

Experienced and capable people & systems

One thing that doesn’t change is the need for good people: the industry and its individual companies stay in business not just because they have the best equipment, but also because they have the best people.

The industry as a whole is hugely indebted to its pool of HDD professionals, and ensuring that each and every person goes home safe at the end of the day is – simply – a requirement to stay in business. Like in many other parts of the construction industry, this has been a big focus of evolution over the years in the HDD industry.

Mr Stuart-Robertson says attributing this as a big part of the culture that supports reliable project delivery: it is key to meeting HDI Lucas’ promises to clients and staff.

“Our quality and safety systems have been proven time and time again as we tackle some of the most challenging horizontal drilling projects in the region, and those systems are regularly reviewed to ensure we learn and stay ahead of the curve,” he says.

With its people and plant, and thanks to decades of experience in scores of projects around the world, HDI Lucas continues to explore and extend the capabilities of HDD to ensure projects can benefit from safe and reliable pipeline construction in environments that are more complex than most.

HDD projects are about improving outcomes, enabling essential infrastructure to be built in sustainable ways.

“But the real benefits of the project will be felt in the future. Communities will benefit directly from additional infrastructure capacity, and the strain will also be taken off existing plant, optimising its lifespan and minimising the need for works in surrounding areas,” says one client project manager.

Mr Stuart-Robertson’s vision for HDI Lucas is clear. “Buoyed by the strength of our parent company, Spiecapag and HDI, which are part of the Paris stock exchange-listed Vinci Group, we are here for our clients,” he says. “Our job is to find technically innovative, safe and reliable solutions to make essential infrastructure work, sustainably.”

From strength to strength, paving the way for microtunnelling

For more than three decades, Rob Carr has been an Australian leader and pioneer in microtunnelling for the design and construction of utilities infrastructure projects in the water, energy and transport space.

Covering an extensive range of tunnel diameters for varying ground conditions, it has constructed some of the most complex microtunnelling and pipe jacking projects in Australia.

Paired with its expertise in civil engineering, which covers niche areas such as deep excavation, caisson construction, rehabilitation, pipeline installation and pump station construction, Rob Carr provides a total project solution for its clients in a variety of markets.

General Manager Angelo Soumboulidis says in 1999, Rob Carr invested in its first trenchless machine, starting a long and successful journey to where it is today.

“Trenchless operations were only in their infancy, however the company possessed significant technical nous and a hard-working mentality which allowed Rob Carr to take on major trenchless projects from the offset. The first trailer mounted Iseki TCZ250 proved to be very successful and perfect for the WA market which required compact and efficient microtunnelling machinery to construct pipelines in difficult ground conditions in dense urban environments,” he says.

Not long after migrating to WA, the company re-entered the market on the east coast of Australia in 2001 and began to hit several project milestones around the country, achieving project wins for Sydney Water in 2002, Brisbane Water and South East Water in 2003. Since joining Rob Carr in 2003 from Sydney Water, Soumboulidis has overseen several critical phases of business operations.

“The business quickly turned to trenchless operations with a focus on slurry pressure balanced microtunnelling technology. This allowed us to swiftly expand throughout the decade to where the company now owns and operates a fleet of 30 Micro Tunnel Boring Machines covering all types of ground conditions and sizes,” he says.

“This was critical to our client’s decision making for those early projects in Sydney and Brisbane where the pipeline infrastructure being constructed was traversing below critical utility and transport assets and offering our clients a complete self-perform construction and delivery service.”

With its expertise in microtunnelling, caisson construction, pump station delivery and working with services, Soumboulidis says the company was able to complete some of its most significant and record-breaking projects, including the Alphington Trunk Sewer project in Melbourne in 2014 with a long drive of 587m on a curved alignment through rock strengths greater than 200MPa and, its largest ever project at Green Square in Sydney between 2015 and 2017, both nationally recognized and award winning projects at the National CCF Awards.

“Green Square holds a special place in the history of Rob Carr. After a successful early contractor involvement process which led to significant design changes, this critical drainage infrastructure involved the installation of 4km of DN1800 reinforced concrete pipeline exclusively via microtunnelling through multiple layers of fill, clay and rock below the water table. Pipelines were constructed in twin and triple cells over long distances with one particular triple cell section on a curved alignment with each pipe no more than 800mm apart, a significant technical achievement,” Soumboulidis says.

2018 saw founder Rob Carr retire after a long and successful tenure.

Rob and Catherine Carr started from humble beginnings. Having emigrated to Australia in the mid 1980’s, Rob was working for another civil contractor on subdivisions at the time where the entrepreneur in Rob saw an opportunity to start his own company. After some considered thought, in 1989, both Rob and Catherine took the plunge into contracting in suburban Melbourne.

With a young family in tow, Rob and Catherine combined their respective skills to lead the new entrepreneurial venture and moved the company in 1995 to Western Australia where opportunities were plentiful and became the real turning point in the company starting its journey to becoming an established player in the utilities market.

The company was acquired by the Seymour Whyte Group in 2014, one of Australia’s leading transport infrastructure contractors and later part of an acquisition of the Seymour Whyte Group by Vinci SA, a global contracting leader with over 200,000 employees and a turnover greater than $40 billion euro. Since 2018, Rob Carr is part of Soletanche Freyssinet, a world leader in soil, structural and nuclear engineering, the specialties business division within Vinci. Since 2018, the company is led by current Managing Director Damien Maitre, who brings 20 years of tunnelling experience to the role.

Soumboulidis says after being part of two acquisitions of the business and a close to 30 year tenure, Rob decided to move on to other new opportunities where he could apply his entrepreneurial skill. Rob and Catherine Carr’s legacy is sustained by an existing and long serving loyal employee base.

2020 saw the successful completion of a major sewer project for City West Water. Part of the four stage CBD Sewerage Augmentation project scheme, the project involved the design and construction of an OD1500, 900m long tunnel along Lonsdale in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

Soumboulidis says that the Lonsdale Street project, was another significant milestone in the company’s pursuit for excellence in project delivery.

“We worked collaboratively with our client and design partner to ensure best for project outcomes throughout, whether that was early engagement with key stakeholders and community, development of modelling to improve management of traffic in the CBD or simply ensure technical excellence in long drive tunnelling through rock up to 150 MPa,” he says. On the other side of the country, the WA Operations Team was awarded the 2020 CCF WA Earth Award for Project Excellence in Civil Construction.

The Quindalup project for the Water Corporation’s Infill Sewerage Program consisted 5.2 km of gravity sewer constructed by microtunnelling and 1.5km of pressure main by HDD to minimise the impact on the local community, environment, and conservation areas.

“The Quindalup project led by long serving WA Operations Manager Barry Crowley, was yet another great example of our operational philosophy and our strong relationship with the Water Corporation. Our self-perform capability allowed us to provide our client with a one stop shop to deliver such an important project.” Soumboulidis says.

The company’s continued pursuit for delivering key infrastructure projects has never stopped. In March 2021, the company was awarded the Design and Construction of the Quinns Main Sewer Extension for the Water Corporation, a major project consisting of 1,9km of DN1800 sewer pipeline with 1.4km constructed by microtunnelling, recognizing Rob Carr’s extensive capability in delivering large diameter microtunnelling projects in challenging ground conditions.

Today, Rob Carr continues to be a leader and pioneer within the sector and remains a trusted, collaborative, and award-winning contractor exhibiting a commitment to risk management, innovation, quality control, safe and environmentally friendly delivery.

Iplex leads innovation to overcome ageing infrastructure challenges

Iplex has broad and proven capabilities and are driven by what is important – customer and community needs. The company provides strong and effective products and solutions to water authorities, rural and urban agriculture, residential, urban subdivision, civil and mining infrastructure markets across Australia.

Ageing infrastructure challenge

The water industry is facing a number of future challenges, including the significant issue of ageing infrastructure alongside the ever-growing demand for water across the country.  Due to the age of the infrastructure, the failure rate of existing water and sewer networks is expected to considerably increase over the next two decades, and the need for innovative solutions has never been more important.

Asset owners face the challenge of cost effectively repairing, rehabilitating or replacing existing pipelines while limiting the impact of disruption to their customers and communities.

Iplex works closely with customers to provide the most effective solutions to meet their specific needs. With proven experience, product leadership and technical expertise, Iplex is well placed to help solve the ageing infrastructure situation.

Callum Hickey, National Innovation Manager says that Iplex has a long history of leading through innovation.

“We are working closely with a number of asset owners, contractors and consultants to help solve their ageing infrastructure challenges through innovative solutions,” he says.

Trenchless will play a key role in effectively addressing the infrastructure cliff. Cost-effective and less disruptive, Iplex has a suite of products to cover the broad spectrum of rehabilitation, repair and replacement of underground infrastructure, including GRP Jacking Pipe, POLIplex PE Pipe and Restrain PVC-U Pipe.

Product Manager Andrew Omer-Cooper says Restrain PVC-U gravity sewer pipe is designed specifically for gravity sewer applications utilising trenchless techniques.

“Restrain is a rubber ring jointed PVC-U pipe with a threaded spigot and socket providing positive axial restraint for immediate installation,” he says. “Restrain is a weld-free threaded pipe that gets the job done in a fast and safe manner, with minimal impact to the environment.”

Omer-Cooper says Iplex introduced GRP Jacking Pipes into the market in 1987, with  a comprehensive range of sizes up to DN2200, and specially tailored fittings.

“Our local technical support and design teams can help with customised sizes for complex and demanding trenchless projects,” he says.

Iplex has invested scientifically in local manufacturing capability to produce thick-walled large diameter POLIplex PE pipe, well suited to the rigorous demands of trenchless applications, along with the expertise to customise based on customer needs.

Iplex has a national scale, local resourcing and technical expertise to partner with customers across all stages of their planning, design and project implementation. 

Head of Sales Shaun O’Brien says the company’s sales engineers and sales representatives across the country are able to help with a trenchless project from end-to-end.

“With unrivalled technical support, product knowledge and implementation, our teams ensures reliability with project delivery,” he says. “We work closely with our clients to give them the best possible solutions whether it be Polyethelene, PVC or GRP materials.”

For more information about Iplex’s Trenchless offering, visit or call its sales team on 13 10 86.

McConnell Dowell celebrates 60 years of creative construction

As they laid those first drains, footpaths and roads, Malcolm McConnell and Jim Dowell may not have realised it at the time, but they were also laying the foundations of what would become a multi-national, multi-disciplinary contracting organisation – and a six-decade journey of innovation, growth and success.

Today, McConnell Dowell has a network of offices across more than 15 countries, employs over 3600 people, and has capabilities in building, civil, fabrication, marine, mechanical, pipelines, rail, and tunnelling and underground construction.

Over the decades the company’s tunnelling and underground expertise has developed and grown to encompass every size, technology and technique, while their geographic reach and multi-discipline capability has seen successful delivery of transport, water/wastewater, power/energy, underpass, utility and mine related tunnels and underground structures.

So, what’s behind that level of success? McConnell Dowell’s Group Technical Director for Tunnelling & Underground, Justin Shepherd, takes up the story.

A long list of tunnelling achievements

From humble beginnings blasting small diameter water main tunnels in 1973, McConnell Dowell quickly moved into auger and thrust boring solutions for rail and road pipeline crossings, followed by pioneering jacked shield mini tunnelling for long wastewater conveyance pipelines in the mid-seventies. 

“This was the start of our trenchless success, a path that has seen McConnell Dowell regularly embrace new technology to lead step changes in the industry – positioning McConnell Dowell as a market leader in trenchless technology,” Shepherd says.

Over the decades, the company has developed a long list of trenchless and tunnelling achievements, including:

  • Construction of the first segmentally lined shield tunnel in Singapore in 1975.
  • Establishing jacked shield mini tunnel technology in Singapore and Australia in the 1970s.
  • Introducing remote pipe jacked microtunnelling to South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in the early 1980s.
  • The first contractor worldwide to utilise a slurry micro TBM to construct tunnels using the  ‘Pipe Roof Method’ – commencing in Singapore in the early 1980s.
  • Constructing the first NATM tunnel in Australia in the 1980s.
  • Achieving unsurpassed world records in TBM advance rates for the Blue Mountains Sewage Transfer Scheme during the 1990s. This included the fastest day (172.4 m) and fastest week (703 m) of any TBM of any size or type worldwide. The best monthly average (1189 m/month for its 3-4 m dia. size class) was also achieved.
  • Delivering multiple award-winning hydropower projects, desalination plants and microtunnelled outfalls during the 2000s.
  • Undertaking major project components including record size-length HDD undertakings on all four of the major LNG projects in QLD and PNG during the LNG boom of last decade (QCLNG, APLNG, GLNG & PNG LNG).
  • Delivering the southern hemisphere’s largest diameter TBM driven tunnel in 2017.
  • Setting a new world record (surpassing the previous distance by 434 m) for Direct Pipe® technology in 2018, and then again by another 92m in 2020 (2021 m single drive).
  • Seven successful sub-sea TBM retrievals.
  • Completing the world’s longest large diameter single pipe jack drive of 1296 m through continuous very hard rock conditions in 2020.

In amongst all that innovation, McConnell Dowell has successfully constructed more than 150 km of tunnels over 140 projects globally, including over 110 km of trenchless / tunnelled water and wastewater projects. 

“Our proudest milestone in underground construction is the highly successful Waterview Tunnel in New Zealand,” says Shepherd.

“These twin tunnels, delivered by the Well-Connected Alliance, were constructed by our teams using a 14.46 m diameter TBM and are currently the largest diameter TBM bored tunnels in the southern hemisphere.”

Direct Pipe Capability

Ultra-long distance, smaller diameter trenchless pipeline installation is a specialist field where McConnell Dowell sees a bright future, investing heavily in their Direct Pipe® capability to seize the opportunity.

“We started with the then new Direct Pipe® technology in 2014 in Thailand, successfully completing 4 km over seven drives ranging between 354 m and 790 m in length.  On this same project we also completed over 3.3 km of thrust bores and over 27 km of HDD,” Shepherd says. 

“Carrying out these methods together, gave us an excellent appreciation of the multitude of benefits that Direct Pipe® has over HDD and microtunnelling techniques in challenging applications such as  low cover, difficult geology, sensitive environments and small site footprint undercrossings.”

When the opportunity arose to use Direct Pipe® for the Army Bay Outfall Project in New Zealand, McConnell Dowell backed itself and gained full support from their client. They successfully delivered a DN1100 ocean outfall 434 m longer than previously achieved worldwide by that method.  Since then they haven’t looked back, with their highly experienced team extending their single drive Direct Pipe® world record to 2021 m on a second outfall, before completing a third New Zealand project involving a treacherous marine coastline crossing, and designing a fourth project ready for construction.

McConnell Dowell is confident Direct Pipe® is the way of the future and is actively looking to replicate their New Zealand and SE Asia success in Australia.

Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project

Another other exciting project for the McConnell Dowell team at the moment is the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro project in far north Queensland.

The project is being developed by Genex Power and involves the conversion of two existing mine pits into reservoirs. The technical feasibility and collaborative design development process took approximately four years.

The construction involves significant underground infrastructure, including a large powerhouse cavern, waterway, and service shafts and tunnels to allow the transfer of water between the upper and lower reservoirs.

Once completed, the facility will generate up to 250MW of rapid response power during peak demand periods and return water back to the upper reservoir during off peak periods. The facility will generate enough electricity to power 143,000 homes for eight hours.

Creative Construction

McConnell Dowell is immensely proud of its tagline Creative Construction, believing it sets the company apart from its competition.

“Creative Construction at McConnell Dowell is the inspired engineering behind the complex infrastructure we deliver,” Shepherd explains.

“It’s the technical problems and challenges solved behind the scenes by people empowered to think creatively. It’s the alternative idea or innovation that saves time, reduces cost, or delivers more value for our customers and community.

“Regardless of whether it’s 14 metre diameter road tunnel in Auckland, the longest and largest HDD boreholes in Australia, or a challenging microtunnel in Singapore, we think creatively, apply innovation where it adds value, and maintain a safe and conservative risk approach in everything we do.”

“That’s Creative Construction,” concluded Shepherd.

As it looks towards its next 60 years of operation, the future looks bright for McConnell Dowell. 

Thirty years of trenchless technology for Vermeer Australia

Over the next decade this vision became a reality, and the industry saw the potential impact this would have in underground construction.

The early days

Vermeer has always had a culture of innovation. In 1979, Vermeer introduced a simple rotary attachment (also known as a porta bore) that was used on small- to medium-size trenchers and vibratory plows for tunnelling underneath different rights-of-way and other obstacles. It was a simple attachment that proved to be popular, as it saved time and money by eliminating the need to open cut footpaths and driveways.  After the introduction of the porta bore, Vermeer could further see the potential in underground infrastructure and trenchless technology.

Vermeer’s first HDD machines

The first trenchless machines started to make their way into the Australian market in the 1990s, and the demand for this type of technology started to rise. The time was ripe for Vermeer to start designing its own trenchless machinery and put its stamp on this revolutionary product.

The first horizontal directional drilling (HDD) machine Vermeer introduced was the Navigator® HDD (which later became the D7 model) in 1991. It was a basic model that needed a significant amount of labour to set up and drill. Everything on these machines was a manual process.

Vermeer’s team spent a lot of time in the field staging demonstrations for customers, introducing them to this new technology and gathering on-the-ground feedback. In 1995 the second generation of self-contained HDD drills was introduced to the Australian market – this was the defining moment for Vermeer, as it put its mark on this up-and-coming industry.

Industry impact and notable projects

Product reliability has always been a big focus for Vermeer, and still is to this day. Improvements in the machine hydraulics and the introduction of a forged rod enhanced drill performance, reliability and helped build confidence in the technology. 

HDDs, known for their low impact on the surrounding environment, have played an integral part in many significant construction and infrastructure projects across Australia.

In the 90s, the rollout of Foxtel and cable television to households required trenchless technology for minimal disturbance to residential areas, and Vermeer’s HDDs were often the machine of choice. The installation of NBN from 2011 saw HDDs playing an increasingly important role in connecting households to the network. The trenchless technology benefitted residents and the environment and provided economic benefits, allowing a connection to be established with as little impact as possible.

Rigs for jobs big and small

The introduction of compact Vermeer HDDs in the late 90s and early 2000s, such as the D7X11 and D16X20, allowed for more versatility when working with differing ground conditions. When Vermeer introduced a smaller drill to the range, it opened up the market and offered more variety and versatility for those working with a fleet of HDDs, particularly on larger projects.

HDD technology has become more compact over the years, but it has not been at the expense of power. Customers can use compact machines on a larger job that might have tight access, but still expect the same  drilling performance and output that the larger models offer.

The S3 range

The S3 range of Vermeer HDDs was introduced in 2015 and made rock drilling a lot simpler for operators, without compromising on productivity. The range includes the smaller D10x15 S3 HDD, weighing just over 3,000kg, up to the 17,000kg D60x90 S3 HDD.

The range’s control interface, which includes the ability to load your plan onto the screen in front of you instead of referring to hard copies when mapping out where to drill, made tasks vastly easier. The S3 range is also quieter than previous models, meaning less disturbance to the surrounding environment, a real plus for residential and suburban projects.

Technology of the future

Vermeer is always looking at ways that technology can improve operations for customers, whether that’s through product improvements, research and development, or the latest training techniques.

The Navigator® HDD Simulator 2.0 was developed to take the headache out of HDD training, which can often be costly and time consuming.  Packed with features, the Horizontal Directional Drill Simulator trains operators on the basics of operating drill controls, using real-world drilling simulation without the need to set foot on a real drill. Operators get instant feedback, alerting when drilling goes off target and guiding them back to safer alignment. The simulator will be a gamechanger for many Vermeer Australia customers, with controls that span across the Vermeer line-up of drills that will help with a smooth transition to a real drill.

The Vermeer Australia of today

In 2015, Vermeer Australia became part of the RDO Australia Group, a subsidiary of North Dakota-based RDO Equipment. Globally, RDO Equipment is the world’s largest John Deere and Vermeer dealer group, with presence in Africa, Australia, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine.

Today, the Vermeer Australia business is 100 per cent owned by RDO Equipment, who sells the Vermeer range of industrial and environmental products, as well as John Deere Construction & Forestry and agricultural equipment. The size and breadth of the Australian industrial equipment network means the business can offer Vermeer Australia customers a range of product and level of customer support that is unmatched.

From telecommunications and electricity to gas, water and energy pipelines – underground infrastructure contractors continue to use Vermeer HDDs to get the job done, supported by one of the largest and most trusted equipment dealership networks in Australia.

To find out more about Vermeer Australia
and its full range of HDDs, head to or call

A history of optimising drilling successes

Prime Drilling was founded in 1999 by Werner Wurm and Frank Auringer with the specific goal of designing and manufacturing high-quality horizontal directional drilling (HDD) rigs from 30 to 500 t. The company started out with 12 employees working from a 1,000m2 production facility and headquarters in Wenden, Germany approximately 75 km east of Cologne in the country’s west. 

The location has since grown to accommodate Prime’s more than 80 employees, with the production area subsequently increasing to 4,500m2, from which Prime’s trenchless solutions are shipped all around the world, including Australia and New Zealand where they are available through TRACO-TECHNIK Australia. 

More than a manufacturer

Werner Wurm’s son and current Managing Director of Prime Drilling, Sebastian Wurm, says the company’s products are the culmination of decades of knowledge in drilling techniques, high production quality and excellent service. 

“Our goal has always been to manufacture best-in-class machines, so quality is at the foundation of Prime Drilling,” he says.

“Apart from about three rigs, all the machines we’ve manufactured since 1999 are still in operation, including our first.” 

The focus in Prime’s first year was to develop machines up to 50 t. In its second year, the company sold the first 220 t unit, with 320 t, one of which is running with a customer in Australia, and 450 t rigs soon following soon after. 

In the years that followed, Prime matured from the focus on 30-500 t machines to diversify its drilling products, developing vertical equipment – known as multi directional drilling (MDD) machines used for oil and gas applications – compact units for smaller jobs, and more recently electric HDD machines.

In 2007, it developed its first pipe pusher, capable of 400 t of push force. In the same year the PD500 was conceived, which was for a long time the largest unit in Europe.

In the year, the company celebrated its 10-year anniversary, Prime introduced the first mud pump, the X-3000. 

The first MDD machine was sold in 2012, with the development of the first electric machine following soon after in 2019.

“Adapting to changing market conditions is always a challenge, but we always listen to the wants and needs of our clients to ensure we’re delivering the best machines and advice,” says Mr Wurm. 

Alongside this comprehensive line-up of HDD technologies, the company also offers a range of professional services, including remote maintenance and product advice backed by a qualified team.  

Not only does Prime offer tailor-made technology solutions for its clients’ projects, but also extensive experience and know-how in customising equipment designs to specific project needs. Investing in one of the company’s products also comes with the advantage of universal compatibility with global parts suppliers and a strong industry record in equipment productivity, often resulting in savings.

This extends to Australia and New Zealand, with the partnership with TRACTO supporting customers with technical training, planning and preparation from the conceptualisation of projects through to on-site execution. 

This level of coverage is in keeping with Prime’s corporate objective to optimise the success of its clients, which is achieved a steadfast partnership which delivers reliable service, innovative technology and customised product design. 

Customised solution

Throughout its history supplying machines to Australasia, one of the most memorable projects Prime has been involved with was the delivery of specialised rigs required for an application outside its usual industry. 

In December 2011 an Australian company ordered two HDD rigs for coal seam gas extraction in Queensland. The requirements of the client lead Prime to develop a specialised version of the PD 100/80 RP-C capable of a penetration angle between 6-45 degrees and a maximum thrust/pull force of 100 t.

With a specially developed spring-loaded park brake installed to prevent the heavy power rotary head from sliding down, even in case of total failure of the hydraulic system, the custom rig even managed to exceed Australia’s strict safety requirements.

Once they had been designed and manufactured, in 2012 the two rigs were shipped from Hamburg, Germany, on a 45-day journey to Brisbane. Once on site they performed horizontal blind hole bores, with a diameter of 88.89 mm, a length of up to 1,800 m and a depth of up to 350 m.

Looking to the future

Speaking on Prime’s greatest achievements in its more than 20 years, Mr Wurm says, was the construction of its first 500 t machine which at the time was the largest unit of its kind in Europe. 

“More recently, I’m very proud of our ability to diversify into designing and constructing electric HDD machines, which are recognised as the best available on the market,” he says. 

“The new 450 t E-machine with 140k Nm torque is considered the largest of its kind in the world.” 

Looking forward, plans are in place to increase the production capabilities in Wenden to 6,000m2 to accommodate the continued growth and evolution of the company’s products. The expansion will facilitate Prime’s ability to deliver customised solutions for the drilling industry into the future.

“Our goal for the future is simple,” he says.

“We want to continue to grow and expand our production capabilities and continue to deliver innovative and high-quality equipment which meets the demands of our clients.”

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No-Dig Down Under 2022

Register now to secure your ticket to the second-largest trenchless technology event in the world

Following on from the successful event held in September 2019 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, and due to overwhelming support from sponsors, exhibitors, and delegates,
No-Dig Down Under is back.

No-Dig Down Under is the southern hemisphere’s only large-scale conference and exhibition dedicated to trenchless technology. The event has grown over the years to become the second-largest no-dig technology event in the world and is now considered a ‘must-attend’ for all industry professionals.

Organised in partnership with the Australasian Society for Trenchless Technology (ASTT), the event will feature a world-class conference program, with three conference streams all focused on different aspects of the industry, training courses on trenchless methods presented by industry leaders, and an exhibition extending over 4,500 square metres and featuring exhibitors from all sectors.

There will be three sponsored social functions, including the prestigious ASTT Gala Dinner and Awards Evening, providing attendees with networking opportunities in a variety of settings with industry professionals.

Why should you attend No-Dig Down Under 2022?

The world-class conference program will show you how leading utilities are using no-dig methods

Asset owners play a vital role in the application of trenchless technology, which is why the conference program largely consists of Australia and New Zealand’s leading utilities, operators, and municipalities, including Gold Coast City Council, Yarra Valley Water, APA Group, and Dial Before You Dig.

The conference program also includes presentations on research and education into trenchless technologies.

See the latest trenchless technology at the exhibition

The exhibition will feature the world’s leading suppliers, manufacturers, and service providers of the latest trenchless solutions for the installation, rehabilitation, and location of underground infrastructure assets.

Many of the exhibition stalls will be presenting practical demonstrations of their equipment, which is an important opportunity to see the company’s products in action.

In 2019, more than 1,500 leaders and decision-makers passed through the exhibition, including delegates and trade visitors, so you know that what’s on exhibit is worth a visit!

Get networking at the three social functions

No-Dig Down Under will feature three social functions, providing networking opportunities in a variety of different atmospheres.

On the evening of Tuesday 8 March, the exhibition will officially open with a ceremony at the ICC, sponsored by Herrenknecht.

The opening is an opportunity to get a first glimpse of the exhibition hall and speak to exhibitors about their products and services before the general public the following morning.

The Networking Reception on Wednesday 9 March, sponsored by Vermeer, is a chance for delegates to relax and unwind after a few busy days. This years’ event will take place on board a Captain Cook Cruise departing from King Street Wharf – easy walking distance from ICC Sydney. Sail into the evening with this cruise around Sydney Harbour.

The final evening boasts the ASTT Gala Dinner and Awards Evening. This formal event – sponsored by Bothar Boring & Tunnelling – celebrates the Australasian trenchless industry’s achievements from the past two years.

Full conference registrations include access to these functions’, otherwise, tickets can be purchased separately on the No-Dig Down Under website.

Increase your knowledge of trenchless technology by attending a training course

In 2022, No-Dig Down Under will feature three training courses covering Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD), Sewer Laterals and New Installations. The training courses will be presented by international leaders of their respective fields.

Originally developed by the North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT), the ASTT has licensed the training courses and adapted the material for Australasian audiences. The courses are considered the global industry standard for trenchless technology education.

Registrations for No-Dig Down Under are now open, and the ASTT also has 10 utility and council scholarships available for attendance at No-Dig Down Under 2022. The scholarships allow key members of Australasian utilities and councils to attend the event with reduced costs and aims to bring more employees from these organisations to the event, thereby increasing the knowledge of trenchless technology.

Positioning to become a fifth-generation business in the trenchless industry

Paving the way for the rest of the family by working in the coal mines and construction industries, Giuseppe Pezzimenti was able to bring the rest of his family over from Italy.

Having gained experience working with pipelaying contractors, Giuseppe started the family business, G. Pezzimenti & Sons in 1957, with his eldest sons Frank and Domenico, taking on contracts from the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works.

Giuseppe’s four sons Frank, Domenic, Gilbert and Aurelio would join the company in the following years.

The jobs were primarily concerned with the construction of backlog sewers, which in those days were literally ‘pick and shovel’ work.

Aurelio and Gilbert eventually joined the business separately as they left school, and pneumatic tools and backhoes had replaced the ‘pick and shovel’.

The younger brothers were instrumental in the company’s progression into tunnelling. Their first job was in Thomastown, using dynamite to blast through rock. In those days, most tunnels were 100 m in length and pipe diameters ranged from 150 – 1,200 mm.

The hand tunnel method was slow, cumbersome and extremely labour intensive, so the company began to experiment with very basic auger type drill rigs, built from the family’s workshop connected to Giuseppe’s house.

Then followed the first Pezzimenti Laserbore laser guided machine in the mid 1980’s after much research, development, trial and error.

Aurelio undertook the engineering and manufacturing side of the business with Gilbert and Frank managed the sites and put the machine through its paces.

The company compound, that was also attached to Giuseppe’s yard, was the trial field for the development of the machine. It is still believed that many cavities are remain under there.

Pezzimenti Trenchless was later incorporated in 2011 by Joe, Anthony and Stephen Pezzimenti as part of a family succession plan.

Director Joe Pezzimenti says he joined the family-run Pezzimenti Laserbore in 1989,  followed by Anthony in 1995 and Stephen in 1997.

“It was here all of us worked in the field and learnt every aspect of the machinery and construction methods,” he says. “Our father, Gilbert, still remains an integral part of the business with his 50 plus years’ of experience.”

Joe says looking back at the company’s biggest milestones it is hard to narrow it down to just one. However, one that stands out is the Donvale Brach Sewer Project that commenced in November 2015 and was completed early 2018 for Yarra Valley Water and MFJ Constructions.

Around 4 kms of new 300mm, 500mm, 600mm and 700mm GRP pipe was installed along and under Mullum Mullum Creek.

“It was hard siltstone ground conditions and there were challenging and sensitive access issues, but we were able to complete the works due to our continued development of our hard ground and basalt capabilities along with state-of-the-art vacuum extraction trucks,” he says.

Joe says the company has grown its capabilities to tackle more challenging jobs. Pezzimenti Trenchless’ major focus has been on developing its equipment to tackle basalt ground conditions.

Joe says with Melbourne’s major growth corridors, including the West and North of Melbourne, which are predominantly basalt conditions, the company’s capabilities have seen unprecedented demand to complete critical, deep and risky microtunnels.

“We have also invested into state of the art and powerful vacuum trucks in order to handle the deeper and larger microtunnels that require spoil to be extracted via vacuum,” he says.

“Pezzimenti Trenchless commenced with four fully equipped drilling crews and now have seven full time crews.”

Pezzimenti Trenchless has now branched into South Australia and Tasmania, with the third-generation business now aiming to introduce a fourth and fifth generation to the business.

“We pride ourselves on our unparalleled experience and expertise, as well as on our dedicated research and development program,” Joe says. “Focused on delivering the best results for our clients across the state, we are committed to providing the most efficient and effective solutions for every project, however big or small. Pezzimenti Trenchless will continue to position itself at the forefront of the trenchless industry.”

Keeping it running for 18 years

From water boards and local councils to businesses and Tier 1 and 2 projects, Kermeen says the biggest milestone for the company was when it started working for Melbourne Water and designed a long-range CCTV camera in 2008.

“The camera is the same which is used on undersea robots used for laying undersea cables and also used on Australian submarines for checking the decks are clear before they dive,” he says.

“So, we built this system that would CCTV survey up to 3000 m, which we then proved up to Melbourne Water that it was suitable for the survey work required by them in their trunk sewer system of around 450 kms.

The trunk sewers range from 2 m to 6.5 m in diameter, including working in man holes up to 90 m deep. Kermeen says developing those skills with a highly trained team allowed Rangedale to complete its first contract using this technology for the trunk sewers for Melbourne Water. 

In 2009 when the company was mainly doing dig outs of collapsed sewers and CCTV & jet cleaning of sewer pipes for South East Water and City West Water, it led to it expanding its work and growing its civil works division.

From this, Kermeen says the company was able to add other divisions to the business, one being traffic management in 2015. RTM Traffic has 20 vehicles and mainly services the Rangedale Group but also works directly for some of our preferred clients.

“We then added to the drainage division, by including hi end jetting units, NDD trucks, concrete cutting works, asphalting, civil infrastructure, and semi eduction services,” he says.

“And from about 2015 onwards, the company grew from around 40 employees through to almost 300 today.

“In 2019 we added the company Rangedale Drainage & Industrial Services (RDI) to our portfolio based in Wangaratta & Sydney, this division has extensive experience in heavy industrial cleaning plus CCTV, jet cleaning & Eduction, semi eduction, Dangerous Goods Unit, relining and Smart Lock installation.”

The company started its pipe relining division Rangedale Relining & Rehabilitation Services (RRR) in 2019 and has since added a dedicated and experienced management team to run this rapidly expanding division. Rangedale also introduced a lateral sealing system, robotics for grinding out concrete, heavy tree roots or other intrusions into pipes. A new UV manhole structural lining system has been introduced using the latest European technology which will outperform anything currently on the market at a competitive cost to most others.

Rangedale has also invested in the construction and operation of a clean NDD slurry recycling plant based in Keilor East, which means that every part of our excavated clean NDD slurry is returned to the infrastructure projects we are working on.

Rangedale offers a complete range of drainage solutions and has the technology, the experience and the expertise to tailor specific solutions for any problem with minimal disruption to the environment.

“We run Australia’s most modern fleet of Industrial vehicles, Cappellotto combos and NDD units along with the latest IBAK & IPEC CCTV cameras, jetting units, combination / vacuum eduction units, excavators, tippers and other specialised equipment, tools, plant and safety equipment purpose built to service any industry,” Kermeen says.

“Rangedale can provide our customers with a comprehensive service, as the Rangedale Group of companies is vertically integrated, allowing turnkey solutions utilising all in-house services. 

“With the scale of our fleet, personnel, industry knowledge and expertise, Rangedale is the first choice when it comes to drain cleaning, manhole construction and manhole relining, inspection, maintenance and repair, utility locating and mapping, service proofing, saw cutting, restoration, relining, NDD, CCTV, traffic management, asphalting, civil works, industrial cleaning, bulk liquid and slurry waste management.”

Looking to the future, Kermeen says there are enough infrastructure projects already announced in Melbourne and Sydney to take it at least through to the next 10-15 years.

Rangedale has sufficient labour, resources and equipment which provide it with the flexibility of allocating high priority to emergency works, the ability to work 24/7 to complete works that may be in high traffic areas or if high flows prevent day works.

As a family-run business, Kermeen now has some of his children involved in different parts of the company, each having a major influence.

“They contributed to and have been a major part of the control and growth in the last six years, and I expect that sometime in the future they will be running the company,” he says. “But it is not just about family, we have a great dedicated and passionate team that care about our clients and each other.”

We feel that the complete training program we provide for all of our staff will soon give them a certificate 3 or 4 (depending on what division) which will be highly regarded within the industry.

Neil says that you can be assured that any job, simple or complex that comes across our desk we will be able to come up with a solution to fix it.

The story of Wilmot Pipelining

After returning from Europe in 2004 Andrew took up a role in Business Development for a wastewater treatment company. Working in the wastewater treatment sector became a passion for Andrew as he could start to see the importance of keeping pollution out of our waterways.

In 2006, Andrew became involved in trenchless whilst contracting pipe bursting to upgrade sewer mains across many areas in Australia. Once Andrew was introduced to trenchless, he says it became a strong ambition to start his own company specialising in these technologies.He also studied business administration in addition to his field experience. Continuing his work in civil construction and commercial plumbing and drainage as a foreman in Queensland, Andrew worked here for three years before founding Wilmot Civil in 2012.

The company kicked off officially in Newcastle, NSW, where he setup an office out the back of the garage and started from there.

The business started by offering house service lining and small-scale civil pipeline construction and point line repairs.

In 2015, Wilmot Civil began working on much larger scale projects for local councils and utilities. The motto was laid out clearly from the start for anybody working for Wilmot. Not only does the company do quality work, it’s also about service, being professional and leaving the site immaculate.

Wilmot Civil began trading as Wilmot Pipelining as 90 per cent of the projects the company was delivering were pipe relining and pipe rehabilitation. The business spread out its offerings to the market to have a trenchless solution for every asset type and situation.

The business invested in UV CIP cured in place technology in 2018 and have built a reliable rehabilitation service with this technology.

Wilmot now delivers large pipeline rehabilitation projects across Australia, with a growing awareness of the business capabilities and expertise.

The Wilmot team have recently successfully delivered the Largest UV CIP Liner installation in Australia, which has attracted international attention from the industry.

Wilmot Pipelining has also developed large pipe diameter slip lining techniques which have been successfully implemented on projects over recent years. The business also has pressure pipe relining capabilities and the Manhole Liner’s for sewer manholes.

The company is proud of having trenchless solutions in potable water, waste water, storm water, culverts and sewers.

“Wilmot Pipelining prides itself on having a strong company culture that is based on traditional values. The business has also developed a very strong engineering team that are well backed by talented field crews,” Wilmot says.

“The business encourages training and development of staff and positivity is at the forefront of the company’s values, with respecting and caring for others treated as a vital factor for the team being happy and working in a positive team environment.

“The business is proud of its achievements over the past 10 years, and looks forward to many more years serving the industry.”

Andrew Wilmot says he believes the industry will keep growing and evolving with new technologies, and Wilmot Pipelining has worked extremely hard to be well positioned to continue to grow with the industry.

One-stop-shop for HDD solutions

Since its establishment 26 years ago, UEA has grown its business to focus on its core business – horizontal directional drilling (HDD). 

With continual improvements to its techniques, operator training and education, backed by HSEQ solutions, the company ensures it continues to lead the way in the industry.

UEA was founded by Andrew Rowlands and Keith Whittaker when the two men worked at Woodlawn mine near Goulburn, NSW.

Co-Founder and Director Keith Whittaker says one day a friend of his, who worked for Telstra, mentioned they should look at directional drilling.

“We needed a change and we were told about HDD and went and bought one. The company today is unrecognisable. We started with one machine and staff member and today we have 11 HDD rigs and 40 employees, Whittaker says.

UEA General Manager Steve Hopkins says after some investigation the men decided on purchasing a TT 10s HDD rig mainly because it had percussion on it for harder ground.

“Hence, the company was formed in November 1995 and named Underground Envirotech Australia (UEA),” he says.

“A trip to TT in Europe followed and the drill rig was delivered in January 1996 with the first HDD project commencing for Actew in Canberra in February 1996.”

Hopkins says Actew and Telstra were among the first clients to utilise the technology for electrical upgrades, sewer renovations and new communications networks.

UEA’s TT 10S Grundodrill was the first HDD rig of its kind to work in the ACT and surrounding areas.

In 1998, on the back of the telecommunications boom, UEA grew from the initial three employees to over 70 personnel. Backed by a fleet of Vermeer HDD rigs UEA entered the rock drilling market with a D50 x 100 supported by a DFE cleaning system.

In 2000 UEA capitalised on its strength within the utilities sector and increased its market share in the Greater Sydney area – in particular the electricity market. By the year 2000 offices were open in Sydney and Canberra, servicing a large part of NSW and the ACT.

Between 2000 and 2007, once established in Sydney, UEA’s commitment to high quality work and innovative approaches opened up opportunities to become a panel contractor in the electrical market with Endeavour Energy and other major civil contractors. Further diversification into other infrastructure sectors, such as water, waste water and sewer quickly followed.

2010 marked the year the company won the ASTT New installation of the year award for the Brighmore Park Project – 1403 metres of 500mm PE on grade. This success paved the way for a long-term relationship with Sydney Water and its contractors eventually delivering in excess of $60 million of projects.

Six years later UEA successfully completed its first ocean outfall HDD on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. This lead the way for multiple installations across the country over the next five years.

In 2017 an additional Vermeer D330 x 500 was added to the UEA Maxi Rig Fleet to further cement UEA’s position in the market. UEA is now recognised as an industry leader with the ability to successfully deliver significant projects around Australia.

Whittaker says the company goes in cycles, with it surviving every downfall and still working towards new goals.

“Each year is a milestone for us. There have been many highlights from over the last 26 years, so it is hard to pinpoint a particular one,” he says.

“Based on what we have worked through over the last 26 years who knows what the next 30 years will bring.”

Both Hopkins and Whittaker hope UEA remains a family-orientated business, and a one-stop-shop for your HDD solutions.

“I know I won’t be here, but hope to leave it in a healthy state for the younger generation to run with. If they stick to the same model there is no reason the company will stay at forefront of the Australian HDD industry,” Hopkins says.

“We will continue along the line we have been going on for the last 26 years and I want it to maintain a good environmentally friendly company,” Whittaker says. “UEA has become one of the best HDD contractors in Australia by embracing technology changes, continual improvement to its equipment, processes and system as well as investing in its staff via regular training and education.”

Bothar, Building the World Beneath You

Deriving from the Gaelic name bóthar, which means road, Bothar specialises in providing engineering solutions to solve complex subsurface construction challenges in most types of ground conditions.

Managing Director and one of the founders Noel Kerr says Bothar has grown from its original two employees in the early 1990s to just under 1000 working globally across the business today.

“At the time the company was predominantly working in Sydney and were outsourcing our subsurface crossings when the concept arose to do the work in house,” Kerr says.

The company initially commenced operating with Bothar Built Auger Boring Machines executing various infrastructure crossings, and within a few years were also operating using Bothar Built Tunnel Boring Machines.

The company built its first Tunnel Boring Machine around 1994 then this milestone was followed by Bothar completing its first major tunnelling project – the Black Street Lang Park drainage project, in Brisbane, Queensland.

Within 10 years, Bothar had established several offices throughout Australia and had become one of Australia’s most skilled and diverse providers of tunnelling solutions.

Leveraging its local expertise, Bothar launched its international operations and expanded into the Middle East in 2010 with offices in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait.

It was during that year that the company commenced its first microtunnelling job in Abu Dhabi – 1.7km of 2000 mm diameter for installation of reinforced concrete jacking.

Kerr says in 2011 Bothar was awarded its first project in Kuwait – 22km of various diameter (ranging from 400 mm to 1000 m) for a new sewerage system.

The company further expanded its expertise internationally when it received an investment from an overseas company as part of a plan to further expand the Middle East presence into Qatar in June 2013.

“We executed a number of major projects including the Hunua 4 project in New Zealand, a 506 metre flood relief tunnel in Brisbane, the Al Sowa major sea bed crossing in the UAE, and over 80 coal-seam gas export pipeline crossings for major CSG-to-LNG owners,” Kerr says.

“During 2013 we also completed our first microtunnelling job in Doha, Qatar. Since then, Bothar has significantly accelerated its geographically-focused growth through strategic acquisitions and organic growth.”

Going from strength to strength, Bothar hit another milestone by acquiring Coleman Tunnelling Africa (rebranded to Coleman Microtunnelling), through which it launched operations in South and Greater Africa.

Kerr says the company’s presence internationally did not stop there, expanding into Singapore in 2017, followed by acquiring Innovative Pipeline Crossings (IPC, recently rebranded to Bothar Inc.) in Canada in 2018.  “Here we started to form a beachhead for our planned expansion into North America,” he says. “Bothar now boasts a fleet of 74 specialist machines that provide engineering solutions on projects facilitating social benefits to millions all the while minimising any environmental impact.”

Kerr says one of the key aspects to the company’s success is it offers a mix of its own equipment and supplied equipment. Bothar is believed to have the largest Herrenknecht microtunnelling fleet in the world.

“Bothar’s end-to-end tunnelling solutions set it apart from its competitors in the market, further strengthened with the addition of Direct Pipe®, shaft construction and pipe manufacturing capabilities in the last three years,” he says.

Being in an industry where they are always faced with operational challenges, Kerr says  continuous increases in technology has boosted performance and safety overall.

Bothar’s commitment to innovation is demonstrated through its investment in research and development and the results that are achieved in the field with its in-house technology. A recent example being the Canopy Tube project on the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane, Queensland whereby Bothar’s expertise was tasked with the installation of 19 x 102m (DN500) canopy tubes for the Boggo Road tunnel.  Bothar developed an innovative solution to install canopy tubes with pinpoint accuracy without the ability to install a retrieval shaft whilst ensuring the ground was fully supported at all times.  Bothar designed a specialized bespoke bidirectional retractable cutting head which had never previously been utilized on this size installation. The company’s Bothar Built fleet of tunnel boring machines are continually reviewed for potential performance improvement or to solve a particular client construction challenge.

Kerr says the company has developed the enviable reputation of being a “can do” contractor renowned for the successful delivery of difficult projects whilst maintaining excellent operational performance.

“These strengths coupled with some of the best personnel in the industry worldwide (from the first two employees 30 years ago to a workforce of just under1000) and an in-depth understanding of the unique challenges of each project have helped us to leverage our current status as a market leading, innovative multinational tunnelling contractor,” he says.

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TRACTO evolves to be more than a dealer

TRACTO-TECHNIK was established in Saalhausen in 1962 by Paul Schmidt, with the ambition of designing and manufacturing the best trenchless products available. A legitimate pioneer of the no-dig technologies, the company is credited with designing one of the first true trenchless products ever to be produced: the GRUNDOMAT soil displacement hammer. 

Today, TRACTO is a leading supplier of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) equipment with a comprehensive range of equipment for the trenchless installation and replacement of new and existing underground infrastructure. Its range includes GRUNDOMAT soil displacement hammers and ramming machines, GRUNDOPIT mini drilling systems, GRUNDODRILL HDD systems and GRUNDOBURST pipe bursting systems.

The business has more than 600 employees worldwide and sales representatives in over 70 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, supplying the company’s unique product portfolio, to Australasia and Southeast Asia. 

Landing Down Under

TRACTO Australia was established as TT ASIA PACIFIC in 2000 to service the trenchless markets in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. The business was initially located on the Gold Coast, Queensland, from where TRACTO built an extensive network of customers and distributors across Australasia, as well as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, and of course China. 

Coinciding with the appointment of Jeff Rose as Managing Director in 2017, the company changed its name from TT Asia Pacific to TRACTO-TECHNIK Australia emphasising the affiliation of the local business with the worldwide TRACTO-TECHNIK group of companies. 

Taking service to new heights

In recent years, while the design and production of the equipment has been enhanced in Germany, locally, the team has been focused on growing its commitment to provide unparalleled customer service, solidifying its reputation as more than an equipment dealer. 

Choosing a TRACTO machine is only the beginning of the client-supplier relationship, with comprehensive service and consultation from in-house experts who truly care about resource-friendly and sustainable trenchless solutions to come in the decades a machines is out in the field.

To facilitate this vision for the business, in 2019, the company relocated to a purpose-built facility in Luscombe, halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The 2500m2 premises allows TRACTO to have more inventory on hand to support the Australian and New Zealand markets. 

In addition, there’s enough space to stock an extensive range of spare parts and related drilling and rehabilitation equipment, such as GRUNDOBURST and GRUNDORAM. The company also has the ability to host clients for hands on training and professional development on live machines, so they can try before they buy.

As part of a partnership with fellow German manufacturer Prime Drilling, TRACTO Australia is also responsible for sales and support for Prime’s machines in the region, including it’s range of compact machines and maxi rigs which are mainly used for oil and gas pipeline installations. 

More than a dealer

The concept behind the steps taken to support this idea is to create – and more importantly maintain – meaningful and lasting relationships. This ideology has resulted in TRACTO building a growing list of customers who have an appetite for high quality and innovative trenchless solutions, and gives contractors the opportunity to deal directly with the manufacturer. 

TRACTO believes in guiding customers through all stages of the product process, from purchase to training and after sales support. This includes giving clients access to technical and engineering support in real time. 

The customer-first experience is delivered by TRACTO’s team of dedicated trenchless experts who have a strong understanding of the industry. The group comprises experienced team members, long-term employees and seasoned operators.

This level of support is backed-up by the company’s unique range of HDD systems, which standout from the competition with increased digitalisation and automation. TRACTO’s products are constantly being refined based on end user feedback, with resources fed back into the business to explore research and development to find new solutions for customer’s problems.

Despite its global reach, TRACTO Australia places a strong emphasis on the specific requirements of the domestic market. Once new products are developed, they are subjected to rigorous testing before being released to the international market.

This attention to detail, along with the level of support its clients receive, is the reason TRACTO has a reputation for premium product with quality and longevity, which gives clients a strong return on investment over a longer period of time.

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Loc’ed and loaded

For the past 37 years, Sekisui Rib Loc Australia has been developing trenchless technologies for the rehabilitation of damaged pipe infrastructure around the world. Despite having undergone several changes over the years, the company’s core vision is still the same: to work together with willing partners to provide innovative solutions to deteriorated pipe networks.

The spiral wound liner system was first conceived in 1978 and patented in 1983 as the brainchild of South Australia inventor Bill Menzel AO OBE. He officially founded what was then known as Rib Loc Australia in June 1984.  

While the spiral system was put to use in many countries around the world for the purposes of column formwork and new pipe fabrication, Bill – an entrepreneurial spirit and global traveller – saw the growing need for a reliable, high-quality method of lining aging and failing pipes.  Setting his mind to finding a solution, Expanda™ was born.

A history of innovation

The core principle behind each of Sekisui Rib Loc Australia’s technologies is the in situ forming of a standalone structural liner through the helical winding of a factory extruded profile. Sekisui’s first pipe rehabilitation technology was Expanda, developed in 1983 for the close fit lining of small to medium diameter pipes. 

Other technologies were developed over time, as the need for more innovative approaches in large diameter pipe rehabilitation became apparent.  Ribsteel™ followed in 1996, as a large diameter, high stiffness liner.  

Rotaloc™ was developed in 2001, initially in order to line conduits that weren’t directly adjacent to access chambers. Rotaloc is still used in structural lining for deteriorated circular pipes and culverts. It consists of a single, continuous PCV strip, which is progressively wound into the existing pipeline by a winding machine – no excavation required. 

Ribline™ was developed in 2005, providing a more cost-efficient means of large diameter rehabilitation. After acquisition by Sekisui Chemical Co. in 2009, Sekisui Rib Loc Australia gained access to Sekisui’s SPR™ technology for the rehabilitation of non-circular conduits.

Award winning technologies

Sekisui Rib Loc Australia was proud to have had two of its technologies recognised by industry, when the company was awarded the International Society for Trenchless Technology No-Dig award for product of the year (Ribsteel, in 1997, and Rotaloc, in 2001) and to go on to have its other technologies used in ISTT No-Dig award winning projects.

Interflow and Sekisui Rib Loc Australia won the 2010 ISTT No-Dig award for the use of Ribline in the rehabilitation of the North Georges River Submain in Sydney. This project went on to be the world’s longest and largest continuous spirally wound pipe liner from a fixed winding machine. In 2012, Trenchless Technologies CC won the award for rehabilitating sewers in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, using Expanda, among other technologies. 

New challenges require new solutions

While the present climate poses some challenges for Australian manufacturing, Sekisui Rib Loc Australia proudly continues to design, develop and manufacture the current and next generation of Australian spiral wound pipe rehabilitation technologies here in Australia.

While others seek to imitate, Sekisui Rib Loc Australia continues to innovate, expanding and improving the capability of its product offerings to meet the needs of both its installer partners and asset owners around the world.

Sekisui Rib Loc Australia continues to work with Interflow and similar likeminded organisations, seeking to contribute to improving the lives of communities. The company looks forward to the opportunities and challenges that the next 30 years and beyond will bring.

For more information visit the Sekisui website. 

This article appeared in the ASTT 30th Anniversary Edition.