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Specialists in Horizontal Directional Drilling

SA Drilling is a South African based drilling company specialising in rock and normal soil horizontal directional drilling (hdd). Installing piping, conduit or cabling underground using horizontal directional drilling is fast becoming the preferred method of underground pipe installation, and we have the correct project management solution for your project.

This trenchless technology practice, offers an alternative to traditional trenching or excavating, and it’s more cost effective. This is particularly useful where traditional methods are either not practical or simply not possible. Directional Drilling Technology or Boring is a underground process of drilling which controls the direction and deviation of the boring programmed to a targeted location by steerable trenchless method used in the civil engineering Industry to install underground pipes, cables and conducted to name a few.

Our Drilling Machines

Vermeer D20

By listening closely to the needs of contractors working in congested urban areas, our goal was to make this S3 drill a perfect fit for your operation — whether you’re installing cable, fiber or product pipe…

Vermeer D9

The next generation is here. Drilling performance has been redefined with the D9x13 S3 Navigator® horizontal directional drill, which features a streamlined operator’s station…

Vermeer D36

The new D36x50DR Series II features dual rod technology to handle the challenge of rock. With a class-leading inner torque rating of 1500 ft-lb (2033.7 Nm), operators…

How does it work?

Drilling fluid is pumped through a pipe and bit which creates high-pressure jets and grinding of the soil ahead of the drill. The fluid is also used to remove the cutting spoils back to the entrance of the tunnel.

Advantages of Directional Drilling

  • No open trenches or damages / erosion to a variety of surfaces
  • Small entry and exit point
  • Installation at highly congested areas / residential areas with minimal damage to surrounding areas
  • Little to no impact on traffic flow
  • Little to no reinstatements to brick surfaces, tar, concrete or any gardens beddings
  • Larger distance Capabilities

Different Types of Directional Drilling

  • Road crossing drilling
  • Gradient Stormwater pipes
  • Optic Fibre installations
  • Construction Projects
  • Vertical drilling
  • Boreholes drilling
Directional Boring Drilling Explained

The Stages of how HDD works

Drilling process demands an attentive attitude, control and adherence to technological characteristics at every step.

Horizontal Directional Drilling Machine
Horizontal Directional Drilling underneath municipal pipes and cables
Pipeline Drilling underneath a building
Preparatory works

Before underground communications laying, the landscape and equipment must be prepared:

  1. Site development for the drilling machine is of universal size, 10х15m.
  2. If necessary, provide a detour road for the machine.
  3. Set down the drilling equipment in appropriate place of the pilot boring launch.
  4. Fix all necessary systems before the operation.
  5. Adjust all necessary drilling tools.
  6. Adjust the radio communication between team members.
  7. If it’s necessary, built an additional lead for bentonite liquid and groundwater.

At the preparation stage, in order to bring any harm to the existing pipelines it is important to calculate the location of them. It is also necessary to have the 10 m distance between the main machine and mud mixing system.

It is also very important to explore the soil of project and choose the appropriate drill bits and reamers before pilot drilling. The whole drilling object must be protected with a yellow warning tape.

Drilling process

After finishing the preparatory work, the next stage is drilling process:

Pilot boring requirements:

  • The diameter of pilot boring is 10 cm.
  • Adjusting drill bit by 10 – 20 ° relative to the horizon line;
  • Pilot boring path is checking every 3 meters’ length.

Backreaming process requirements:

  • Expansion of the pilot hole: the drill bit is removed and replaced by an appropriate reamer;
  • Full extension of the reamer through the formed channel with constant correction of movement.

It is necessary to use a drilling mud during whole drilling process. The drilling mud must have sufficient gel strength to keep cuttings suspended for transport, to form a filter cake on the borehole wall that contains the water within the drilling fluid, and to provide lubrication between the pipe and the borehole on pullback.

It is important to consider the possibility of soil caving. In order to exclude the violation of the technology, it is necessary to connect all parts of the pipes with each other reliably.

Advantages and disadvantages of HDD technology

Horizontal directional drilling was invented in 1960. From then on, the HDD has been actively used all over the world. Like any other technologies, the HDD has its advantages and disadvantages

Advantages
  • Less waste of resources, finance, labor and time
  • Costs for laying communications are reduced due to the lack of the need to restore the environment;
  • You can work in any areas, including historical places, high-voltage stations, unfavorable climatic conditions;
  • The soil structure is preserved; the fertile soil layers are not disturbed;
  • The usual urban rhythm is also not disturbed, there is no need to stop the road traffic.
Disadvantages
  • If it is necessary to lay a pipeline of high length or at great depth, the trenchless method is more expensive.

Horizontal directional drilling

When using the HDD method, the cost of similar works can be reduced by 2-3 times. If it is not possible to lay communications on the landscape on traditional way, the soil puncturing method is applied.

The method of horizontal directional drilling is used for various purposes:

  • Laying of pipelines, gas lines, electric cables and other communication lines for buildings.
  • Formation of wells for oil and minerals extraction.
  • Replacement of old communications and equipment.
  • Arrangement of underground highways.

Besides the demand for technology, HDD provides certain advantages:

  • Destructions on the surface are minimized (it is needed to dig only 2 basins).
  • It is required a small team of 3-5 people to carry out the work.
  • The equipment for drilling is mobile, it is easily delivered and installed at the work site.
  • HDD method allows to equip communications more quickly and cheaper, so that the technology has gained a huge popularity everywhere.

General description of the technology

Horizontal Directional Drilling is based on using the drilling equipment. The general technology of puncturing comes to the following manipulations:

  1. Project documentation with calculations is prepared for accurate horizontal drilling in the soil.
  2. The projects are compliant with local authority and landowners.
  3. Two basins are digged out at the site of works start and communications exit in the location, where the drilling will take place.
  4. Laying of necessary pipelines are carried out with the help of drilling tools.
  5. Completion of work, removal of basins, restoration of sites at their location if necessary.

The above description is brief, currently several types of HDD have been developed. The application of a certain type of horizontal drilling is carried out depending on the soil type, laying communication lines and other factors.