Directional drilling which is also known as horizontal directional boring, is a method of installing sub-surface pipelines, service conduits, and cables that uses trenchless technology. It is an operation that involves the use of a surface-launched directional drilling machine and related equipment. It’s objective is to drill a chosen bore path underground to make way for the laying of pipelines that the HDD machine pulls back from the surface into the hole.

Directional boring is a very effective way for creating bore paths under roads, rivers, or existing structures that are designated for underground pipes and conduits. It is a low impact operation that causes minimal disturbance to the surface, structures or obstacles that exist between the two points.

How Horizontal Directional Drilling Works

Horizontal directional boring is the best way to install pipes underground especially if open cut installation is not feasible. Directional Boring employees the use of a drill string guided along a predetermined path under existing obstacles.

These are the most common steps involved in horizontal directional drilling:

  • Excavation of an entrance pit/receiving hole
  • Drilling of a pilot hole on the designated path
  • Using a back reamer or a larger cutting tool to enlarge the hole
  • Placing a pipe in the enlarged hole through the drill stem
  • Using a reamer to pull the pipe into place
  • Continuous pumping of mixed water and bentonite to the cutting head or drill bit to lubricate the pipe, regulate the temperature of the cutting head, stabilize the bore hole, and remove cuttings.

The Difference between Open Cut and Directional Boring

Open cut or trenching is the most common method of installing and connecting utilities. In fact, it was the only way up until recently. It was quite effective but with the construction of roads, buildings and other obstacles, this method met its limitations. This conventional method is only applicable when he ground above the supposed underground pipeline can be dug without causing damage to existing structures.

Directional boring, on the other hand, can be used where trenching is not practical – simply because it can go under buildings, roads, parks, and even rivers without causing disturbance to the ground above.

The cost of trenching however, is way lower than directional boring which is about six times as much as the former. But to make an underground pipe laying project cost effective, it is best to use both, on areas where application is practical – because the two are complementary to each other.

If you are looking for minimal damage to existing ground, or are not concerned about cost, you should choose horizontal directional boring, it is the fastest and least destructive approach for installing subsurface pipelines and cables.

The Most Common Benefits of Horizontal Directional Boring

Directional boring is an expensive option compared to the conventional method but whenever this application is practical, it can offer lots of benefits because:

  • It minimizes disturbance to the soil and existing ground
  • It’s equipment is contained in a single location
  • HDD reduces damage to existing rock formations
  • It minimizes groundwater pollution
  • HDD is environment-friendly
  • It enables oil extractors to extract twice as much oil or gas compared to traditional wells
  • It is safe
  • HDD is not weather sensitive
  • It has minimal effect on traffic and does not cause disruption on important surfaces such as parks, airport runways, roads or golf courses

Horizontal directional drilling is a highly technical job. It requires experience and expertise because it entails underground work which can possibly cause damage to existing structures and underground utilities.

If you have a project that requires directional boring, you should deal only with experts in the industry, like Advanced Line Systems. We are the leader in trenchless technology in Colorado and surrounding areas.

We install underground pipes efficiently and with the least possibility of causing damage to existing materials.

Make Advanced Line Systems your partner on construction projects and we guarantee you will receive professional, efficient, and safe service.

Call us at (303) 475-8420 or (720) 878-7443.