Negosentro.com | Horizontal directional drilling is a preferred method of underground utility installation, especially when there is a complex pre-existing network of pipes located near the intended bore path. Ensuring the safety of HDD during this process will prevent accidents such as electrocution or gas leaks. Despite the sophistication of drill rigs used in a trenchless operation, accidents can still happen, which is why safety practices are paramount in these installations.
How HDD operates
Many industries hire directional drilling companies to supply the necessary equipment and technology to complete trenchless pipe installation. Using HDD requires fewer workers, causes minimal disruption, and is faster to complete than conventional trenching. Because the technique requires operating special equipment, it is more complex and thus requires that the operator has undergone training.
Many factors define the complexity of an HDD project. For example, the weather, soil type, pipe length, and the type of industry all contribute to the process which the HDD company will use to install the conduits. The three general steps in directional drilling are:
- Drilling the pilot hole. The drill rig operator begins by drilling a small hole where the pipe will enter. The machine will run through the entire drill path until it reaches the exit.
- Reaming. The next step in the process is to ream the hole or enlarge it using a reamer attached to the drill head. The drill rig will pull back the stem in the same initial direction as the pilot hole.
- Conduit installation. Along with the bore enlargement step, the pipe is already attached to the reamer, and as it gets pulled back, the pipe is installed in place.
Creating the pilot hole is a crucial step because it is essential to ensure that all obstacles on the way are avoided.
Ensuring installation safety and avoiding existing underground utilities
Before any drilling can commence, an essential step in the process is to verify the presence of underground pipelines that may interfere with the new installation. The following steps help in ensuring that all existing underground utilities are avoided:
- Conduct a visual inspection of the project site and identify all potential structures connected to underground utilities.
- Contact utility companies and verify if there are existing pipes within the project vicinity.
- Use technology to determine the presence of underground utilities.
Blueprints and city planning documents may also provide helpful information in making sure that all existing underground infrastructure does not pose any danger to the work that is about to start.
In addition to the above-discussed options, there are many other techniques that a contractor can use to guarantee safety. One example is potholing. This technique involves digging a vertical hole that will go through the planned bore depth to determine if there are any hidden lines. A pothole will facilitate using a tracker to provide visual observation of the drill stem and drill head during the process. The tracker does not only serve as a guide but also warns the operator if the drill stem is veering away from the intended direction.