Editor's Log: Enter The DrillZone At UCT

November 2013, Vol. 68 No. 11

We’ve talked a lot in recent years about the “disruptive” influence of horizontal directional drilling upon the underground construction industry. HDD is a technology that has forever changed the way contractors, engineers and owners approach their construction projects.

With its roots in the 60s, it was still the mid-80s before the HDD market really began to thrive. A telecommunications boom in the 90s launched HDD into the forefront of utility installation. A subsequent telecommunications bust saw the market grind to a near-halt while surviving contractors regrouped, retooled and refocused their applications into more diverse markets. Today, telecommunications is going strong again along with electrical work, gas distribution, water pipelines and countless other niche applications never dreamed of 15 to 20-years ago. But clearly one of the primary factors driving current HDD opportunities is the sustained energy market which has helped propel mid and large rig work to new levels of popularity. HDD has absolutely changed forever the face of new installations for underground construction.

The market has evolved, changed and adapted to new industry needs and dynamics. But like any strong, vibrant industry, there are a slew of needs, challenges and problems to be overcome on a regular basis. That’s where the reenergized and expanded HDD focus at UCT comes in.

Last January, Underground Construction magazine hosted a roundtable discussion with several key HDD contractors from different regions of the country and varying sizes of operations. This was a no-pressure, simple exchange of perceptions and perspectives. Towards the end of the discussion, owners, consulting engineers and vendors also joined in the discussion.

The result of those open-forum talks plus follow-up comments was instrumental in the design and launch of a three-part HDD initiative for UCT 2014. For starters, the educational program has doubled in size with topics and program material for all levels of owners and operators and accommodating various skill levels. Another round table open forum is in the works as well.