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TRENCHLESS TECHNOLOGY IN INDIA AND ITS EVOLUTION

When is the last time you cursed the pipeline work and the roadblock it led to while you were on your way to work? If your answer is “not in the recent past”, then let’s take time to thank to the Trenchless Technology. Trenchless Technology, as the name suggests, is a way of executing underground construction work without having to dig continuous trenches or channels. It is undoubtedly a great achievement in the realm of construction for in this advanced technical wonder, the entire surface underneath which the installation or maintenance or replacement is conduced is not excavated. Instead, the complex work is carried out by digging one access hole.

THE JOURNEY: FROM DIGGING TO NO-DIG

The conventional method that was intensively used for construction and replacement or repair of utilities that are located under the ground, before trenchless technology came to the forefront, is called open trenching. Open trenching, unlike trenchless technology, requires large scale excavation which, in turn, gave way to major disturbance of a portion of the ground surface. This necessitated for the development trenchless technology that substantially has reduced the traffic congestion.

For a nation like India, which sprawls with metropolitan and urban cities, trenchless technology plays a pivotal role in effortlessly juggling between periodic underground construction, maintenance or repair and keeping the ill-effects of open trenching methods at bay. Trenchless technology has successfully minimised the health hazards due to pollution and inconvenience caused by trenching to a great extent. Thus, it might be rightly said, that trenchless methods of construction has not only benefitted the engineers and construction workers but has made the lives of the citizens easier as well.

DIGGING DEEPER INTO THE VARIOUS TRENCHLESS METHODS

We know that trenchless technology does not require excavation. Does this make you wonder how it is actually possible to install scores of gigantic pipes without digging up a channel for it? Well, to know that we need to dig a little deeper into the underground world of trenchless construction. Let us try to understand some of techniques and methods involved in the trenchless construction.

MICROTUNNELING:

As the name implies, micro tunnelling is the method of installing small diameter pipes. This advanced technological wonder was developed in Japan but was first used in the US nearly 40 years back. Since then there has been no stopping. India was quick to follow suit, and today micro tunnelling has become an integral part of the Indian construction scene.

The entire process of micro tunnelling is quite complex. A remote controlled tunnelling machine is set at the required depth along with a jacking frame which distributes the thrust load to the pipelines. This set up is closely controlled and operated by an operator who is provided with constant feedback about the ongoing process. In most of the cases, the machine is launched through an entry eye and the pipes that are installed are pushed behind the machine until the machine reaches the reception shaft.

HORIZONTAL DIRECTIONAL DRILLING (HDD):

Horizontal Directional Drilling or HDD is one of the most used trenchless construction methods which is capable of installing a number of utilities with minimum intrusion. HDD is ideal for installation of cables and ducts, gas and oil lines under waterways, pumped sewage lines and water mains in congested areas that are environmentally sensitive.

The process of HDD involves the drilling of the pilot borehole along a specific direction until it reaches a predetermined objective underneath the earth’s surface.

PILOT TUBE MICROTUNNELING (PTMT):

Introduced to the world of trenchless technology, Pilot Tube Microtunneling (PTMT) has its inception in the 90s. In India, PTMT has been first applied in the Wazirabad Road Sewer projects in which a total of 6 km of pipes will be installed.

PTPM process involves the boring of a hole in the ground by jacking along hollow steel rods.  This is done by installing a pilot tube behind the steering head that guides the pilot tube until it reaches the receiving shaft. The pipe that is to be installed is then jacked behind the pilot tube.

PIPE BURSTING:

Pipe bursting goes way back to the 1980s when it was used to replace existing gas distribution lines of small diameter. Since then, the method has developed and is now widely used for replacing pipelines of almost every size, material and function.

In this process, a conical-shaped bursting head is advanced along the existing pipes and exploded which forms a cavity to let the new pipe fit in. The bursting head is followed by the new pipes which are generally 50mm to 100mm smaller in diameter.

These are only some of the methods that are used in the dynamic field of trenchless technology.  These complex processes demand absolute mastery of knowledge and skill and a team that shoulders the paramount responsibility of carrying out the processes. Such a group of experienced and dedicated engineering enthusiasts from the ATOZ Infracon Pvt. Ltd. that has been zealously serving the construction field for over 15 years and is steadily guiding India to a trenchless future.

THE TRENCHLESS FUTURE OF INDIA

If we look at the widespread use of trenchless technology in India, it will not be incorrect to say that open trench method might become totally obsolete in the coming years.

Across the length and breadth of the country, several projects are being carried out with the help of trenchless technologies. From the Kerala Water Authority to the Central Railway (Mumbai), all the leading authorities are adopting the trenchless technology for their projects gradually. With more than 30 ongoing and upcoming trenchless projects nationwide, India is on its way to reach the zenith of trenchless technology.

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