What is Horizontal Directional Drilling

Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is a safe, efficient, cost effective method of underground drilling, one that is performed so that underground pipelines and cables can be effectively installed through steerable trenchless methods. This method of underground drilling is the current industry standard for trenchless drilling, allowing for precision directional boring to be performed between 2 and 48-inch diameters and up to lengths of 600 ft. to 1800 ft..

Now, what is the benefit of HDD and what is the process of underground drilling completed by HDD methods?

The Basic Benefits of Horizontal Directional Drilling

Compared to other methods of underground drilling, HDD is beneficial for how invasive its procedural methods are:

  • Only one drilling location is required to install multiple pipes underground
  • Reduces the costs of excavation
  • Less rock and soil disturbance than with traditional underground drilling methods
  • Offers the ability to drill beneath sites already under construction
  • In some instances, it allows for the maintenance and repair of already existing pipes
  • Produces twice the amount of gas or oil extraction when compared to traditional methods

The Methods of Horizontal Directional Drilling

Compared to the traditional methods of underground boring, HDD is a rather simple process, consisting of only three main phases.

  1. A kickoff point, called the pilot hole, is drilled along a horizontal directional path from the original surface to another.
  2. The bore diameter created from the pilot hole is enlarged so that the installation of a pipeline is made possible. Additives such as Bentonite will be added to the hole so that it is both clean and stable.
  3. The drill rod and reamer are attached to a swivel, securing the main pipe against torsional stress during transportation. The main pipe is then pulled into the drill hole, creating a pipeline to be created underground.

Miscellaneous Facts About Horizontal Directional Drilling

While the popularity of HDD can be heard through word of mouth, statistical information taken from reports illuminates its increasing usage:

  • The telecommunications service industry reported an 24.4% of HDD usage for its fiber installation in 2017
  • Statistical expectations believe that he global HDD market will grow to a market value of $14.95 billion by 2022
  • The most common pipe used within the HDD market is the high density polyethylene pipe (HDPE), which has been reported as being used for 49.7% of all projects
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