Published On: Mon, Oct 22nd, 2018

Horizontal Directional Drilling: An Overview

The construction industry has used horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for decades and it is becoming an optimal solution in dealing with pipeline drilling projects inside urban areas. Not only does horizontal directional drilling keep the nearby structures such as roadways and buildings intact during a drilling operation, but it also does minimal damage to the surface’s soil which makes it a safe option to use in navigating underneath buildings and roadways. Horizontal directional drilling companies make use of this versatility to do pipe installations near urban areas and bodies of water that cannot be accessed through traditional trenching methods. Here is a brief history of horizontal directional drilling as a refresher on what you already know.

Photo/Tech collector via wikimedia commons

History and maker

The history of the horizontal drilling method can be traced back to its creator, Martin Cherrington. He developed the idea back in the 1960s through creating his drilling rig and drilling company which would pioneer the development of the Horizontal Directional drilling method in 1971. After trying his technique on his first try, its success would springboard it to be an efficient alternative way to trenchless drilling. His innovative design would be modernised later on in the 1980s where the procedure developed complex computations in assessing the nearby geological terrain in plotting the trajectory of the drilling path to be made in varying soil environments. The method would be renowned for being an effective way of constructing while minimising damage to the surrounding ecosystem.

The HDD procedure

HDD is a process done in three steps.

The first step is in creating the borehole for the entry of the drill string. The entry hole is angled in a way that would curve back to its exit hole as the primary path travelled by the pipe to be inserted.

The second step involves drilling through the hole with a reamer attached that enters the pilot hole to widen the gap appropriately for the insertion of the pipe. An allowance of up to 1.4 times the pipe’s diameter is calculated to ensure a fluid movement of the pipeline for the pullback.

The third step is the insertion of the pipe through the bore which is pulled back by the reamer on the opposite end of the drill string through the exit hole.

Though it’s easier said than done, the factors involved in finding the right material for the pipe to the drill bit to be used requires a great understanding of the drilling area’s topography and its geological make-up to ensure that the soil being operated on won’t collapse.

Efficiency in modern days

Though the practice of doing horizontal directional drilling is not a new practice, it does provide efficient ways of reinstalling and replacing pre-existing pipes through its ability to manage sewer and water pipelines without draining the above ground to create trenches for construction. In today’s political scenario where the preservation of the environment is a massive issue, now more than ever, horizontal directional drilling is an optimal choice in preserving the ecosystem while rebuilding the building blocks of the urban districts.

Author: Joana Green

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