Editor's Log: Mainstream

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | June 2010 Vol. 65 No. 6

There are methods for line and grade installation that work, albeit at a very slow, tedious process. The speed of HDD installations is one of its principal allures for contractors. Experienced operators can quickly push through a pilot hole to the exit point with deadly accuracy, but the bore path may have several minor twists and turns in getting there. That’s not a problem for pressure pipe, electric cable or telecom. But for gravity sewer, that’s a deal breaker. Ditch Witch introduced a system last year that does a better job of improving installation speed while maintaining line and grade, though improvements and R&D are ongoing. When the line and grade barrier does fall, HDD will be a technology for all sectors.

It has been argued that trenchless construction and rehabilitation is a “disruptive technology”: something that literally impacts and modifies an industry to the point that it is forever changed. While there were earlier trenchless methods that certainly have had substantial effects on the underground infrastructure market, I’ve no doubt that the advent of HDD was truly the primary trenchless “disruptive” force that has forever changed pipeline and utility installation.

Legal battles begin
The acquisition of HammerHead by The Charles Machine Works (Ditch Witch) effectively scuttled HammerHead’s long-standing relationship with Ditch Witch competitor Vermeer. While that development came as a big surprise to most in the industry, the subsequent initiation of legal battles has shocked no one.

Let’s hope the courtroom war is resolved quickly. All three companies are vital to the economic integrity of the underground construction market.

Tech Tips
In our April edition, NASSCO, in conjunction with Underground Construction, began a new bi-monthly feature called “Tech Tips.” The column offers insight on trends, best practices and industry advice from NASSCO’s trenchless membership professionals. The June installment of Tech Tips covers blockage removal for sanitary sewers. Read this valuable information here.