Horizontal Directional Drilling as an Alternative to Trenchless Drilling

HDD, or horizontal directional drilling, is widely accepted as the most common digging method used to install conduits, pipes, and cables without the need for excavating trenches. For construction. The popularity of HDD is mainly due to its effectivity in urban areas as it creates little to no disturbance in the environment and nearby building while construction is underway.

The process of horizontal directional drilling

HDD is a drilling method that allows drilling through the ground at a slanted angle to install pipes without using trenches. In contrast to traditional drilling, the launch site for HDD is much smaller and easier to clean up. The drilling rig is set up on site where rods are connected to the platform to the drill bit as multiple rods are attached to dig deeper through the designated borehole.

After it reaches past the destination or exit hole, a reamer is used to enlarge the hole which is made to be at most 1.5 times wider than the size of the designated pipe. The drill bit is removed from the end of the string, and it is replaced with a reaming tool to widen the hole.

A brief history of HDD

Martin Cherrington envisioned the concept of horizontal drilling in the 1960s. He developed the idea of guided drilling through observing gas line installations. He pursued his design by creating a drilling rig and creating his very own company that would pioneer the method. It was only in 1971 when HDD was officially used to install a fourth gas line under the PG&E or Pajaro River for Pacific Gas & Electric Company which required a 500 feet crossing. It took Martin a month of patient drilling, but eventually, the benefits of horizontal drilling were soon given sufficient limelight to be considered as an innovation in the drilling industry.

The early 1980s saw the development of the procedure which would include the intensive calculations and computations of the surrounding topographical terrain in estimating and plotting the entry and exit holes efficiently and effectively; these improvements would be developed to this day with various advancements devoted to limiting the damages to surrounding areas during construction.

Advantages found in the HDD method

Logistically speaking, it might take longer for HDD to be done compared to traditional drilling, but it does manage to be an optimal choice in several situations. Besides the method of HDD not requiring a trench set up, it also has some perks which make it the best choice in certain circumstances. Horizontal drilling deals only with minimal disturbance in the nearby soil area as it creates fewer fractures in the present rock formations. The little damage done allows for the soil to stay together and protects the nearby landforms by keeping the ecosystem in place without the possibility of landslides.

Horizontal directional drilling also promotes efficiency as it can be used to replace pre-existing pipes without damaging the surrounding pipelines.

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