Is Your HDD Tooling Leaving Time and Money on the Table?

As published in Utility Contractor.

The right tooling for the job can help boost efficiency, reduce repairs and protect machine investments

As advancements in HDD machines continue to improve, so does their tooling. But it’s not always easy to keep up with the latest developments in tooling as you work to meet tight project deadlines and deal with challenges like worker shortages.

What’s more, even if you identify HDD tooling that’s a good fit for your machines, it can be difficult to justify the investment, especially if your existing tooling still works.

By understanding the advances that have been made in HDD tooling in recent years, and how they can improve both your jobsite performance and your bottom line, you can identify the best tooling for you and make a sound business case for buying it.

Innovations in Piping

Pipe that’s built specifically for HDD machines has been around for decades. But some key innovations in this area can help you get better performance from your drill and drill string.

Specially lined pipe, for example, decreases the inside diameter of the pipe. This allows you to reduce your drilling fluid usage by up to 60%, while also allowing the drill string to pressure up faster. Lined pipe can also provide cost savings over time, such as by reducing rust buildup in the pipe, reducing wear on fluid pumps, and creating less mess when adding or removing pipe to the drill string.

There are also “premium” pipe options that are designed for specific drills. These unlined pipe options can offer a greater bend radius and the strongest, more wear-resistant tool joints available in the HDD industry. They also have visible wear indicator grooves that make it easier for an operator to know when it’s time to replace drill strings.

Another option that has emerged in recent years is a forged drill pipe, named so because it’s forged from a single piece of 4130 steel. It can give you similar benefits to premium pipe, while meeting S-135 strength standards and delivering improve scratch resistance.

For rocky conditions, all-terrain pipe is necessary – but not all all-terrain pipe is the same. When you use a unique shaft-within-a-pipe design that’s created for specific All Terrain drills, you can get the most efficient and productive drilling system possible for challenging conditions.

Advancements in Housing

Today, a wide range of housing types are available for different job demands.

Durable dirt housings can help you stay productive and protect your electronics. The housings can use a single-pin lid design that is more efficient than using a threaded pin or a bolt that can wear and stretch over time. And they can use a check valve system to reduce fluid loss and reach full pressure faster. These housings can also be used with special devices that melt if the beacon or sonde gets overheated or plugged downhole, which can minimize damage to electronics.

A housing option that bridges the gap between dirt and rock can provide durability and versatility. With a high-flow design and the right power and volume, these housings can be used in varying soil conditions. And as conditions change, a square drive spline allows you to quickly change tooling. These housings can even be rebuildable, so you can replace only the parts that have become worn.

Housings for rocky jobs continue to evolve with a focus on ease of rebuilding and minimized downtime. Additionally, innovation has given way to increased runtime by up to 125% more depending on model of housing. Newer housings also have features like bearing hubs with laser-clad hard surfacing to minimize wear and a grease-compensated sealing system that helps ensure proper lubrication and increase uptime.

Revolutionizing the Bits

When evaluating bits, it’s important to look for options that are not only right for the ground conditions but also built for maximum productivity and longevity.

Some dirt bits designed to work in all soil types incorporate small design elements that can make big a difference on the job. A forward-facing cutting structure, for instance, can result in more productive drilling across soil types. And rounded carbide teeth can make the bit less susceptible to fracture.

For more challenging conditions, start by looking for a bit line that’s built for quality – like those that use heat-treated alloy steel and strategically placed carbide – and then find the bit that’s right for the job. A bit that’s designed for soft rock, for example, can use teeth that are angled into the cut to increase production. While a bit designed for cobble can use a J-shaped torque edge to give an operator better control.

Easing the process

Efficiency is the name of the game on the HDD jobsite. With advancements in HDD, contractors can say goodbye to the days of digging huge exit pits and spending hours swapping out tooling for pullback. Additionally, the number of HDD tooling options may be growing, but technology is making it easier to navigate those options. Using online platforms that were created just for HDD tooling can help you keep pace with tooling advancements – you only need to know what drill and pipe you’re running. From there, the platform will help you identify the right tooling, confirm if it’s available at your local dealer and even facilitate the purchase.

Managing the day-to-day demands of your job is challenging enough and finding the right tooling can help contractors boost efficiency and ROI.

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