Advancements in Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD)

Machine technology is advancing. Since the process was developed in the late 1980s, HDD has seen continued innovation. Developed to solve the problem of installing underground products in areas with challenging conditions, costs have come down, and equipment design has matured. Here are a few highlights of HDD advancement.

“From the smallest to the largest rigs, the HDD market is doing well,” says Richard Levings, director of product management, American Augers. “We continue to see methods change from open-cut to trenchless, and the predominant trenchless technique is HDD—especially for new installations. The use of HDD for rehabilitation is growing in a major way, however, and will become a dominant market for HDD.”

Equipment has become more powerful and more compact. The new HK180CK has 180,000 pounds of thrust/pullback force yet fits through a backyard gate.

The HK80CK is electrically powered via a 250 kW “E-Motor” at work. A small diesel propels the machine when maneuvering on site, but the engine is shut down during drilling.

Directional drilling tracking technology has advanced. “Wireline initially used magnetometers,” says Richard Levings, product manager, American Augers. “But those are affected by ferrous materials, whether soil type or in-place structures, so gyroscopic systems are growing in popularity and currently account for some 40 percent of the market.”

The global horizontal directional drilling market is expected to continue to grow. Valued at USD 8.16 billion in 2020 and expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7% from 2021 to 2028, we’ll no doubt see technology continue to improve.

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