Cost-Effective Trenchless Technology

Cost-Effective Trenchless Technology for the Installation of Underground Utility Lines

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) uses cost-effective trenchless technology to create space for the installation of underground pipes and utilities with minimal effect on the surface above. With this cost-effective trenchless technology, it is possible to bore pipeline paths underneath airport runways, roads, built-up areas, railroads, and even water sources. Under normal circumstances, trenching would be used. However, surface damage because of trenching may be unacceptable such as when utilities must be installed underneath a busy highway or a golf course. The conventional trench method may not be possible where pipelines must be installed underneath waterways.

Directional DrillingThe HDD method uses cost-effective trenchless technology to reduce the time it takes for creating space where utilities and pipelines can be installed. It also helps to minimise the effect on the environment while reducing the cost of rehabilitation to the surface above.

With the use of this cost-effective trenchless technology, directional drilling is possible in any type of soil, including sand, clay gravel, shale, cobble, and rock. The directional drilling starts at the surface and at an entry angle between 5 and 20 degrees. The drilling trails along the selected drill path through a location system towards the horizontal target and exit point.

Once the drill point reaches the exit point at the other end of the path, a back reamer is attached to the drill string. The equipment is then pulled back to the original entry point using the drill string. With this method, the path is enlarged. Several back-reaming actions may be required before the horizontal path is large enough for the utility or pipe to be installed. The installation path is generally the 1½ times the size of the outside diameter of the object, such as a pipe that must be installed.


Through the Use of Cost-Effective Trenchless Technology, HDD Holds Several Advantages, Including:

  • The ability to create an underground installation path where open trenching is not a viable option.
  • Time savings associated with the rehabilitation of the surface after installation of the utility pipe as minimal surface disruption is experienced.
  • No need to de-water the drill path when the installation must be done below the water table and thereby reducing the time it takes to create a path.
  • There are many cost-savings associated with not having to de-water an area where the pipeline must be installed.
  • The process can be performed at any time of the year, regardless of the season as there is no need for backfills or compacting of soil after the installation of the pipeline or utilities.
  • With this method not being affected by weather conditions, work can be completed even during the rainy season.
  • There is no need for road closures to trench a path as the drilling is done under the surface.
  • With trenchless technology, work can be completed in a cost-effective way that is faster than other methods for underground installations.
  • There is no need to remove expensive landscape features, including the likes of golf-course grass as the surface is not disrupted.
  • There is a reduced environmental impact of construction and engineering work.
  • There is no need for the redirection of traffic while drilling the horizontal path.
  • This method can drill underneath paved areas and commercially busy inner-city sections.


Trenchless technology makes it possible to install utilities even underneath airport runway surfaces without having to close the runways during the process. With state-of-the-art computer technology, a high level of directional accuracy is possible. Different sizes and bore lengths can be used for the various types of paths and underground conditions that are applicable for specific projects.

From fibre to telecommunication lines, infrastructure, electricity cables, and pipelines can be installed through the horizontal drilling method. Different types of locating systems are in use, including the walk-over, wire-line, and gyro-based locating methods. The system used is dependent on the soil conditions, the area where the installation is to be completed, time available, and cost constraints.

When it comes to making the most of this cost-effective trenchless technology, we highly recommend making use of our horizontal directional drilling expertise and equipment. We provide services to client companies across South Africa. Get in touch to discuss your particular underground directional drilling requirements.