Directional Boring: The Stealthy Tech That Innovates Our World

Have you ever wondered how the pipes that remove the grey water, sewage, and stormwater from your home get there? Once upon a time, construction companies had to dig sometimes enormous trenches to lay pipes. Today, this laborious process is being replaced with directional boring.

This new engineering technology is faster and makes far less of a mess. It’s also safer for the engineers and other on-site workers. Right now, it is more expensive, but that price is coming down all the time as the technology improves.

Are you keen to learn more about fascinating hidden technology? Read on!

What Is Directional Boring?

Directional boring is sometimes referred to as horizontal directional drilling (HDD). It is increasingly used in pipeline construction in areas where there are:

  • Existing buildings
  • Nature preservation concerns

It is the preferred method in these circumstances because workers can install pipes or other conduits without disturbing the ground level. It’s also used when lines need to cross rivers or roads.

When it comes to engineering secrets, direction boring sometimes seems like one of the most mysterious. So, how does directional drilling work?

First, workers drill a pilot borehole in the ground using a predetermined route. They can operate the drill remotely, making it a safer option than traditional trenching. If the pilot borehole is successful, the drill is fitted with a reamer of the diameter that matches the piping to be installed.

How Piping Used to Be Laid vs. Today

Construction and the environment are notoriously at odds with one another. In traditional pipelaying, it was necessary to dig enormous trenches. This disturbs everything directly above and even surrounding the open-cut area.

Trenching is still a common method, mainly because it’s cheaper. However, directional boring is increasingly being embraced in areas where there is an environmental, safety, or surface obstruction concern.

The Benefits of Directional Boring

HDD has numerous benefits over more traditional methods of getting pipes and other liquid or material transportation conduits into the ground. These include:

  • Minimal disruption to the surface
  • Install many lines from a single starting point
  • Preserves underground structures like rock formations 
  • It is more environmentally friendly
  • Remote functionality makes it safer for workers
  • Less excavation lowers costs
  • It can be operated in any weather
  • Less disruption for traffic and commercial surface activities

Since directional boring drills below the surface, this technology can also traverse existing construction sites. Engineers use it in dangerous circumstances, such as replacing lead water pipes or conduits made of asbestos cement.

Consider Horizontal Directional Drilling for Your Next Project

If you’re an engineer or city planner deciding which technologies or equipment to use in pipeline construction, look no further than directional boring. While the option may increase your budget, you’ll save on time, clean-up, and worker safety. Improved outcomes are possible—even when it comes to something as complex as hiding pipelines under an existing city.

For more informative engineering facts and figures, browse the other articles on our blog.

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