Benefits Of Equipment Diversity

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | September 2012, Vol. 67 No. 9

In this issue of Underground Construction, there are several project stories that all feature radically different equipment technologies or applications. Some have been around for many decades, others just a short period.

But these wildly different examples of construction and rehabilitation technologies represent fast-developing and diverse applications that the modern underground infrastructure industry demands for various markets.

Therein lies the future of our market – a buffet of boutique solutions for virtually any kind of problem that can be encountered in the underground infrastructure. It seems there is no end to the challenges and solutions that contractors, engineers and owners have shared with me over the past couple of years – often using both trenchless and traditional construction methods.

In discussions with owners and consulting engineers, I’m seeing a confidence level in the ability of modern construction methods and contractors to that didn’t exit just 10 or 15 years ago. Back then, trepidation was more the rule when an approach outside the traditional mainstream was proposed.

Now, we’re seeing just the opposite. Hard rock or boulders in the ground? That’s okay, just go ahead and drill it! On page XX, an article with Brotherton Pipeline relates a problematic project in Colorado that included “boulders the size of trucks. Drilling through these conditions doesn't get easier but we have learned and continue to get better.” And that’s the point: as an industry, we continue to excel and find solutions that were unthinkable just a few years ago.

Another example comes from Kamloops in Canada (see article on page XX). A huge auger boring machine – probably the world’s largest – has been busy in Western Canada on projects with a variety of conditions. If wasn’t very long ago that such a machine generating 1.8 million pounds of thrust was thought to be too ambitious and unwieldy to be practical. But Kamloops made the investment and continually finds applications for the machine, allowing them to tackle jobs others have to pass on.

On the rehabilitation arena, culvert renewal used to be remove-and-replace only. Today, several technologies allow for renovating corroded culverts in place. Contractor Indiana Reline has found a profitable niche using a newer centrifugally-cast-concrete pipe technology to line culverts up to 114 inches.

Trenching on steep, slippery slopes; extremely tight line and grade tolerances; deep, precise excavation in a hurry: today’s construction equipment has the power and sensitive handling for almost any job.