Utility Contractor

MAY-JUN 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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May/June 2018 | Utility Contractor 31 W hen it comes to the installation of underground utilities with minimal surface disruption, au- ger boring has a long track record of success. In fact, auger boring was a proven trenchless method before the term "trenchless" even entered the lexicon. The process of auger boring involves excavating the face of the tunneling, using flighted augers to carry the spoil back to the launch pit, while simultaneously jacking in casing pipe to support the excavation. Typically, auger boring is used for in- stalling pipes under railways or roads where settlement or up- heaval is a concern. Auger boring can used for projects up to about 60 in. and lengths of up to about 600 ft. Historically, auger boring machines were technically non- steered, but recent advancements have allowed contractors more ability to keep the machine on line and grade. While au- ger boring may be the oldest of trenchless technology, the au- ger boring market doesn't stand still. Technology advances and new applications are constantly expanding the market. To get an understanding of the auger boring market, how it is changing and where it is heading, we talked to three of the leading manufacturers of auger boring equipment: Akker- man Inc., Brownsdale, Minnesota, Barbco Inc., East Canton, Ohio, and Michael Byrne Manufacturing Co. Inc., Mansifeld, Ohio. Providing responses were Jason Holden of Akkerman; Dave Barbera, Tony Barbera and Scott Fisher of Barbco; and Jim Weist of Michael Byrne. How would you rate the current auger boring and tunneling market? Strong? Stagnant? Weak? Why? Akkerman – The auger boring market remains strong with some contractors reporting several months of work backlog. The number of auger boring projects that have been put out for public bidding has increased by nearly 10% in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same timeframe in 2017. The tunneling market is not as geographically consistent as with auger boring, however it can still be considered strong for many in the industry. As policies unfold with Trump's in- frastructure plan, it may become more of the new norm to see shining star regions in the industry as cities and states gravitate towards public-private partnership (PPP) model programs. Barbco – Barbco views the current auger boring market as very strong. It being one of the oldest modes of trenchless tech- nology, auger boring has only gotten more advanced both in accuracy and efficiency. Safety features and standards have also progressed, greatly making it more appealing to potential auger boring professionals and keep current professionals safe. Michael Byrne Mfg. – The market is strong – some of this related to the HDD machine problems with frac-outs and the bad press associated with that recently. The cost-effectiveness for the auger boring method compared to other methods for short to medium length bores is still significant. Which segments of the industry has the most influence on the market? Oil & gas? Water/sewer? Storm water/cul- verts? Other? What are potential areas of growth? Akkerman – Currently oil and gas are driving much of the auger boring industry. This situation is expected to remain un- changed well into 2019. Gas distribution is currently the high- est performing utility market and is driving demands. How- ever, this trend is going to slowly evaporate in the next four to five years unless users experience rate increases. Water and sewer have been the lowest-performing util- ity market since nearly 2012, but capital spending has been increasing. Trump's infrastructure plan to support water and sewer infrastructure is proposed to incorporate a PPP model. This infrastructure plan will require the matching funds from the state level, which will normalize user rates. For states that are in good fiscal health, this funding model will prove very successful and create a bullish tunneling market for those spe- cific regions. Barbco – Although all of these market sectors have big im- pressions on the industry, we believe the oil and gas market to be the No. 1 industry segment due to our nation's pursuit of energy independence. An area we feel is already huge and has immense growth potential is in new and rehabilitating infra- structure due to many smaller or under developed countries continuing to modernize and updating of existing infrastruc- tures. Michael Byrne Mfg. – The oil and gas market have been very strong recently with all the pipeline/energy work that is going on around the country. The water and sewer markets have continued to remain consistent and we anticipate an up- tick in this over the next several years if we can get an infra- structure bill in place. Auger boring has been around for a number of years but it continues to evolve. How has the technology changed over the years? What advances have had the most impact on the market? Akkerman – The auger boring industry seems to take monu- mental strides on a yearly basis. Akkerman has been producing Guided Boring System (GBM) to provide straight and accurate alignments for nearly two decades. Early guided boring equip- ment worked in limited ground conditions with restricted lengths. Advances in technology have allowed contractors to install pilot tubes in a much wider range of ground conditions including rock with distances exceeding 500 lf. With the ability for longer pilot tube installations, auger boring manufacturers have also increased power and perfor- mance requirements, allowing contractors to go bigger, fur- ther and faster. Despite Being One of The Oldest Trenchless Technology, the Auger Boring Market Is Strong and Continues to Evolve

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