Equipment Guides

Achieving laser focus on pipeline projects

As more cities commit increased resources to repair and upgrade outdated or deteriorating infrastructure, the number of water and sewer projects is expected to increase substantially. With many of the projects required to be placed precisely on-grade, Vermeer has developed a pit-launched trenchless solution to provide pinpoint accuracy without sacrificing productivity.

Traditional open-cut methods require trenches to be dug along the length of the pipeline installation. Open-cut excavation is easy and inexpensive to implement in unpaved surfaces, but can result in greater ground disruption and higher restoration costs.

On the other hand, some trenchless tools are capable of achieving on-grade accuracy while ensuring minimal surface disruption, but sometimes lack the productivity needed to compete with open-cut methods.

The Vermeer AXIS guided boring system is a pit-launched trenchless installation method capable of installing 10 to 14 inch diameter (25.4 to 35.6cm) pipe at lengths up to 350 feet (106.7m). It has been designed to accommodate the strict tolerance and accuracy required for sewer and water projects and when compared with open cut, significantly decreases surface restoration costs.

The AXIS system uses a closed-circuit camera built into the drill head to allow the operator to constantly monitor line and grade, while the vacuum extraction method removes spoils, eliminating the need for manual labor. The system’s modular design can be configured in a number of ways to match jobsite constraints and is compatible with a range of pipe options, including PVC, clay, steel, ductile iron and HDPE.

Through a screen integrated into the controls console, the operator can make corrective steering adjustments to the drill head if needed to maintain line and grade. The operator console is designed to centralise control of multiple components into a simple, easy-to-use interface and includes the target display monitor, parameter display, drill head steering control, thrust/pullback control and rotation control.

Vermeer General Manager of Sales, Jeff Lawson, said, “It’s a versatile system, because it’s capable of accommodating different pipe products, sizing specifications and other jobsite requirements.

“A variety of cutter face options are available to help boost drilling performance in varying ground conditions, and the system’s vacuum excavation unit means that the user can maintain clean pits, without suspending drilling operations – saving valuable time.”

The AXIS system requires two pits to first be dug on either end of the bore – one as a launch pit and one as an exit pit. The components that remain outside of the launch pit include a vacuum power unit, vacuum tank and rack power unit.

The core of the system operates from inside the launch pit. The rack, drill casings and drill head are all placed inside the pit, but it is the pipe laser that is the standout feature of the system.

The pipe laser is set to the required grade and depth before the levelling frame, rack assembly and drill head are lowered in. With the camera located within the drill head, the operator can use the monitor to sight the laser beam on target and maintain acute accuracy throughout the process.

“This technology means the operator can easily monitor the target grade, making adjustments if the drill head moves off course,” Mr Lawson said.

The cutter bit then rotates to cut through the soil via the front of the drill head, where the displaced soil is vacuumed out through a hollow section in the drill head into a vacuum tank.

The AXIS system allows for the product pipe to be installed using a traditional pipe-jacking method. It also has the capability to attach the product pipe to the remaining drill casing, which is then pulled back through the bore.

Mr Lawson said the development was in keeping with the company’s high standards when it comes to product innovation.

“Since the introduction of trenchless technology, Vermeer has consistently been a leader in underground utility installation technologies,” Mr Lawson said.

“Our network of independent, authorised dealers can assist you in better understanding the sewer and water market, but more importantly we stand by you every step of the way. From market expertise to selecting the right solution to jobsite training, our dealers are second to none and ready to help.”

Mr Lawson says that the system’s innovative technology, as well as Vermeer’s knowledgeable dealer network and supportive after-sales process, makes the AXIS the ideal solution in the effort to replace and expand crumbling sewer and water infrastructure.