Precision Auger Boring

Columbia Gas Of Ohio Uses Laser Guided Boring For Gas Line Installation
May 2014, Vol. 69 No. 5

Last summer, Columbia Gas of Ohio faced a challenging pipeline installation project.

The utility company was tasked with installing a new 280-foot main gas line within 15 feet of the existing line in Columbus, Ohio’s largest city. To add further difficulty, the gas line also had to cross under the heavily traveled Interstate 71 with a frontage road and several businesses on either side. Adding to the complexity of the job was the rocky ground conditions that make up the foundation of Ohio’s capital city. Columbia Gas chose Miller Pipeline to handle this tough job.

Columbia Gas is the largest utility in the state, serving 1.4 million residential and commercial customers and maintaining more than 20,000 miles of main gas lines. The utility has been continuously working to upgrade its infrastructure, including installing a new 24-inch steel casing for the 20-inch gas line among businesses and a major interstate.

Boring underneath Interstate 71
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Columbia Gas determined auger boring to be the most effective method for this job. Because of the interstate and surrounding businesses, a trenchless method was necessary. However, the ground conditions, existing utilities and bore path beneath the interstate required absolute precision, which is why auger boring was specified over horizontal directional drilling (HDD). Any wavering beyond the straight line could be detrimental to the entire project. Also, Ray Kennedy, supervisor on the job in Ohio for Miller Pipeline, knew that they only had one chance to get this job done and done right.

“We had only once chance to get that shot,” says Kennedy. “If we made a mistake, it would require shutting down the interstate – and that simply was not an option.”

Kennedy called upon Miller Pipeline’s seasoned auger boring crew led by Richard Bowles, an auger boring veteran. Kennedy expressed to Bowles that his crew had to get the job done in one try. With so much at stake, Bowles decided the crew needed to use a guidance system to make sure the bore stayed on grade.

Bowles and his team utilized their auger boring machine fitted with the On-Target Steering System from McLaughlin, a laser guided boring system that provides the operator a clear view of the bore path.

“We needed the security of knowing that we were going to get there. If we didn’t use a guidance system, we wouldn't know what the rig was doing. When we added the On-Target system on the head, we knew what was happening at all times,” Bowles said.