The Pros and Cons of Trenchless Pipeline Installation
As machinery replaced manpower, it became possible to bore tunnels several metres wide with a single path of a machine. With the invention of tunnel boring machines, in particular, mining and underground construction were able to improve their methods. As the technology was enhanced the construction of electrical, sewer and infrastructure was made easier and more cost-effective and trenchless technology was born.
The revolutionary idea behind trenchless technology is simple. Instead of digging a trench the length of the whole piping system – which disturbs traffic, businesses and people – trenchless technology makes a small vertical hole, then bores a path for pipes horizontally like a mole.
Trenchless technology can be used for installing, repairing and rehabilitating pipes. But like any other technology, it has its advantages and disadvantages.
Here are the pros:
Reduced environmental impact
Western Australian HDPE pipe manufacturer states that trenchless installation greatly reduces the environmental impact caused by excavation. This is a major advantage for installing pipes near environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, estuaries, rivers and lakes.
Trenchless installation uses state-of-the-art equipment, PVC pipes and composite liners and pipes. Each offers advantages in terms of durability, performance, and resistance to elements and chemicals, giving users long-lasting piping solutions.
Significantly reducing the time spent digging and filling in trenches, trenchless technology allows faster pipeline installation, repair and rehabilitation. With fewer disturbances on ground level activities, coordinating traffic and businesses is also reduced.
An open trench presents hazards both to workers and the public. A trench’s walls have a risk of becoming unstable and collapsing which can be deadly. The best-case scenario in the event of a collapse is that the trench must be reopened for the installation to proceed, adding to the length of time and the costs required for the project.
Combining all the other advantages makes trenchless installation economical. As trenchless technology is less invasive, allows faster completion and offers enhanced safety, costs can be significantly reduced. More savings can be made when using trenchless installation methods like pipe ramming and impact moling as the equipment needed costs less.
Now, here are the cons:
The installation method horizontal auger boring requires a considerable investment in equipment since it needs different sizes of cutting heads and augers. Likewise, horizontal directional drilling (HDD) requires a sufficient bore length for the cost of equipment and machinery to be profitable.
Skilled workers needed
Trenchless technology requires skilled workers for a safe, efficient and successful installation. This is especially evident in HDD.
Not advisable for severe conditions
Trenchless installation is not recommended (and is unlawful in some instances) for unstable geological areas or soil conditions. This is also true for repairing or rehabilitating severely damaged and misaligned pipes.
Despite its cons, trenchless technology has proven itself advantageous for many applications. Throughout Australia and the rest of the globe, more and more governments, contractors and research institutions have accepted the technology. As the economical, environmental and technical benefits brought by technology are considerable, it is important to gain a better understanding of the technology and its methods for the success of a project.