Directional drilling is a technology widely used today for underground pipe installation. The utility industry has significantly benefited from its invention. What used to be a more challenging job of trenching and open-cut installation, is now made more efficient by the use of specially design drill rigs and other tools.

Utility pipe installation in urban locations and congested cities use directional drilling whenever possible. One of the many benefits of this technique is that it minimizes disruption to the surroundings. Hence, if there are businesses, buildings, busy streets, and other establishments, the nuisance is reduced and it usually takes less time than conventional trenching.

The directional drilling process

The drilling process involves two principal stages. The first consists of drilling a small pilot bore. Drilling fluid is simultaneously pumped to facilitate smooth movement of the drill bit and head through the bore path. The fluid also functions to stabilize the hole. Advanced drill rigs usually have digital tracking devices capable of transmitting the location of the drill head to a monitor. By continually monitoring the drilling progress, the operator can avoid obstacles and move along the predetermined path as intended.

Once the drill head exits the end of the bore path, the next step involves using a reamer to enlarge the hole. After expanding the borehole, the second stage of the process consists of pulling the pipe into the hole and securing it in place.

Are there disadvantages to directional drilling?

Directional drilling does not have many advantages. However, there are challenges and limitations, depending on the capacity of the contractor. One of the most important considerations before choosing a trenchless pipe installation method is the availability of the right tools.

Each project is different, and the project site needs to be thoroughly assessed to determine the viability of HDD. Determining the soil type, checking the existence of conduit networks underground, the contractor’s budget, as well as the availability of experienced operators, all play a crucial role in the success of a directional drilling project.

Another potential challenge faced is drilling fluid safety, handling, and disposal. The mud produced during the process contains drilling fluid. Depending on the existing regulations, there may be restrictions that apply regarding its proper disposal. Nevertheless, drilling fluid is generally safe with bentonite clay as the common additive.

Choosing the right directional drilling company

Indeed, HDD is a valuable technique instrumental in the progress of the utility industry. As such, there are many drilling companies engaged in contracting projects. In selecting a contractor, it is essential to assess their experience and level of expertise. It also helps to learn about previous projects and how they approached the unique circumstances involved therein.

Moreover, before you hire a company, you also need to inspect their equipment and verify the skills of their operators. Learn more about how they conduct business, especially aspects related to customer service. A reliable directional drilling contractor also invites more confidence if they are compliant with licensing requirements and keep their employees updated and trained on the latest techniques.

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