Spoil management is an important consideration on any trenchless pipeline installation to ensure environmental regulations are met through proper disposal and site personnel are kept safe through site maintenance. Microtunnelling provides an efficient and cost-effective spoil management solution.

Microtunnelling machines that utilise vacuum excavation offer a number of advantages over traditional open cut pipeline installation, as well as over other trenchless installation methods, including improved personal safety, efficiency and environmental outcomes, and cost savings.

The benefits of maintaining a clean pit

Stuart Harrison, Managing Director at Edge Underground, said machines such as the Vermeer AXIS laser guided boring system utilise the vacuum excavation method to manage spoil on site for disposal.

“The vacuum excavation method utilises a vacuum tank and power unit to help contractors to maintain a clean site. During drilling, upon reaching the launch pit, the spoil transitions from the drill casing to a hose that runs up the launch pit to the tank,” Mr Harrison said.

“The benefits of this are two-fold. Firstly, the safety of site personnel is improved, as the risk of potential cave-ins and other injuries from conventional horizontal drilling or boring operations is reduced. It also eliminates the need to manually handle spoil within the launch pit, which not only reduces manual labour but also provides a cleaner and safer pit environment for personnel to work in.

“There is also a cost-saving benefit of using the vacuum excavation method, as it is able to remove the spoil as it is produced, removing the need to suspend drilling operations so it can be done manually. This reduces project costs and helps ensure the pipeline is completed on time.”

Maintaining a compact site and meeting environmental regulations

With microtunnelling projects commonly being undertaken in urban and congested areas, it is important to keep the work site compact to ensure the surrounding community and businesses experience as little disruption as possible.

Mr Harrison said the vacuum excavation method is ideal in such areas.

“By using the vacuum excavation method, contractors can reduce the size of the work site as the excavated material is sent straight from the pit to the tank, so there are no piles of spoil sitting around the site that require multiple trucks and loaders to remove. These vehicles can take up a lot of room, so eliminating the need to have them at the site clears up a lot of space and reduces disruption to the community.”

Another key benefit of using vacuum excavation is that it can help contractors to meet strict environmental guidelines that require that no spoil makes its way into soil or land by accident.

“The AXIS vacuum tank is secure and sealed, so the spoil can be transported to the disposal site without worry of a spillage occurring.

“Risks are further reduced as microtunnelling has minimal incoming and outgoing materials, so there is less spoil to deal with and less backfilling required.

“Efficient spoil management is vital to keep a project on time and on budget, so selecting a contractor with equipment such as the Vermeer AXIS system that can help reduce the risks associated with spoil and improve productivity at the work site is key to achieving this.”

This partner content is brought to you by Edge Underground. For more information, visit

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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