The 50th Anniversary of HDD (Horizontal Directional Drilling)

The 50th Anniversary of HDD (Horizontal Directional Drilling)

What began as an innovative idea in the 1960s turned into the drilling technique of the future in 1971, when Martin Cherrington, the father of HDD (Horizontal Directional Drilling), successfully drilled underneath the Pajaro River. It took him nearly a month to complete the feat, but as he used HDD to drill across 500 feet to install a 4" gas line, he changed the face of the drilling industry.

Horizontal Directional Drilling has grown into a multi-billion dollar global industry. As it celebrates its 5oth anniversary, it's time to take a look back at the history of HDD and highlight why it's the preferred drilling method for engineers.

Benefits of HDD

Upon the eve of HDD's 50th anniversary, it is appropriate to highlight what makes this technology so beneficial to companies around the globe.

HDD has a proven track record of success making way for electrical wiring, fiber optic cables, security elements, and electric vehicle charging stations worldwide. HDD's success is due to the benefits it provides, such as:

- Improved productivity

- Lower costs

- Better maneuverability

- Increased precision

- Less community disruption

- Reduced environmental impact

There has also been exponential growth over the last five decades in the HDD industry. Technology and expert knowledge continue to advance, allowing for more efficient drilling in a faster time frame.

Timeline of HDD Technology

Although the conception of HDD began in the 1960s, it didn't become wildly popular until 1971. Upon accepting a challenge to drill across the Pajaro River in Northern California, Michael Cherrington spent a month using HDD to complete the task successfully. After this considerable accomplishment, those in the drilling industry began developing HDD technologies. Over the next 25 years, the drilling method slowly grew in popularity as a cost-effective solution for dropping phone lines, as seen in the case of Southwestern Bell in the 1970s in Houston, Texas.

In the 1980s, the beautification efforts of former First Lady, "Lady Bird" Johnson, came to fruition when HDD was used to bury power and cable lines to remove clutter from the national landscape. Moving into the 1990s, HDD saw a jump with the need to install new gas lines and fiber-optics underground. With so much work to be done, HDD companies began competing with one another. Competition spurred technological advances such as tooling, tracking and steering systems, drill pipe, and drilling fluid technology.

As a result of rapid growth, knowledge and training in HDD increased, eventually leading to incorporating HDD into project specifications from the onset. In the 2000s, the Dotcom boom relied on HDD methods, and finally, in 2018, the world record for HDD was set when the drilling method helped install twin aviation pipelines leading to the Hong Kong airport. The pipes are 17,060 feet long, 20" in diameter, and buried at 330 feet deep, setting a new standard for what HDD can accomplish.

The Future of HDD

There are several aspects of HDD that make the future even more promising. Currently, harmful greenhouse gases are estimated to be reduced by 78% to 100% using HDD versus open-cut pipeline methods. HDD indicates the potential for further implementation of environmentally conscious drilling methods. In addition, experts project the third wave of HDD to usher in using AI technology and 4G and 5G cellular networks to improve telecommunications.

HDD companies predict increased urban expansion due to easily reaching remote locations with HDD to install utility, telecommunication, and fiber optic cables. Communities will continue to grow, and rural areas will become more connected with HDD. Potential for onshore and offshore oil and gas excavation using HDD is also possible. Utilizing HDD for excavation may provide additional access to resources in various parts of the world.

Predictions for HDD extend far into the future as professional training and education courses encourage further research and development of the technologies. New machinery advancements continue to make HDD rigs safer, more precise, and easier to control. HDD is critical to modern infrastructure and will see increased demand as globalization continues.

A Trusted Partner of HDD Technology

Boreworx is a trusted partner in trenchless drilling technology. For more than 30 years, we have utilized HDD to pave the way for the safe, environmentally conscious installation of electrical wires, security networks, and fiber optic cables to serve clients worldwide. We are proud to celebrate HDD's 50th anniversary by bringing attention to the highlights in HDD's history and how it will improve society in the future.

To request a quote or discuss our HDD services, call us at (281) 494-7500 or use our online quote request form.

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