A match made in HDD heaven


Through its partnership with Prime Drilling, TRACTO Australia has delivered a new HDD rig to AHD Trenchless, a leading player in utilities infrastructure construction.

When AHD Trenchless was founded in 2009, by Anthony Doherty, it was with a passion for delivering the difficult jobs that are critical to providing essential infrastructure for our communities. And that’s a big part of the reason why AHD Trenchless specialises in the installation of large-diameter pipelines under rivers, designated heritage zones and major highways in continuous lengths up to 1.5km.

In addition to using its own technology, AHD prides itself on having the most advanced range of HDD drilling rigs, which is where TRACTO and Prime Drilling enter the picture.

“We had this dream of being able to solidly perform those longer shots on the same small footprint we use for our standard 250m+ bores,” AHD Trenchless General Manager Anthony Crowther said.

“The objective here is to drill 1.5km without surfacing, but still having the footprint of a machine that operates in that 200m to 500m range.”

In 2000, TRACTO and Prime Drilling entered into an agreement where TRACTO Australia would act as an agent for Prime’s machines in the local market.

The high rotational torque of 95,000 newton metres makes it ideal for fast, economic and efficient operation.

Recently, TRACTO moved from agent status to a distributor, strengthening the partnership between the two organisations.

As a result of this progression, TRACTO delivered a PD150 HDD rig to AHD Trenchless, which addressed the trenchless company’s needs for an efficient small footprint, high torque HDD rig.

The PD150 has 150 tonnes (t) of push-and-pull capability and a high rotational torque of 95,000 newton metres (Nm), making it ideal for fast, economic and efficient operation.

Paired with its 430 kilowatts (kW) CAT engine, the machine delivers the flexibility of a smaller machine coupled with the performance of a Maxi drill rig.

“The high rotational torque will be able to work in hard rock conditions and also complements our use of optical wireline technology,” Crowther said.

“The way that they’ve cleverly designed the drill rods and the connection points really facilitate our use of state-of-the-art guidance technology.”

TRACTO Australia Sales Manager Daniel Toms said the company’s pivot from agent to distributor has allowed it to provide the best results for AHD Trenchless.

“This extension of our partnership with Prime gives companies like AHD Trenchless a direct line to the factory and engineers in Germany,” Toms said.

“In addition to that, we provide the highest level of training and support for the machines, which the industry expects and demands.”

The PD150 has 150 tonnes of push-and-pull capability.

Crowther agreed, noting the importance of having a presence in Australia.

“Our objective is to drill shots and deliver successful outcomes for our clients, so being able to delegate some of those interactive equipment support  and software updates is really beneficial.”

“These are complex pieces of machinery that often require guidance and advice from manufacturers now more than ever with the use of technology underpinning their operation.

“You’re going to have teething problems but just knowing that we’ve got that support in Australia is definitely going to benefit us.”

The education around HDD and the machines associated with the technique will also continue to grow.

“There’s a lot of focus on microtunnelling in this space, and we definitely see that,” Crowther said.

“For the type of work that we do, there’s a really big opportunity for water authorities to deliver some improved value for money projects for their customers in adopting HDD.

“It’s not that we’re trying to replace microtunnelling – they’ve got their place and we have ours. It’s that we believe we can free up capital for water authorities and utility’s by offering innovative solutions for pipeline installations that are efficient, use lower cost pipe and require less excavation and ground disturbance.

“They use our technology, which certainly helps our business model, but it also means that there’s a bit more to go around.”

For AHD Trenchless, the partnership with TRACTO Australia provides opportunities to look at bigger projects.

“TRACTO has good relationships in different areas around Australia and we just started to broaden that network.

This article featured in the September edition of The Australian Pipeliner. 

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