To prepare for major water, civil, defence and telecommunication projects across South Australia, Fulton Hogan recently expanded their equipment holding and are now self­-performing trenchless construction projects across the state.

Utility spoke with John Herbert, Program Manager SA at Fulton Hogan, to learn more about their new equipment, recent works and the company’s expanded capabilities.

A turnkey solution

Fulton Hogan chose two Vermeer 20X22 Directional Drill packages, which included all associated units, mixing systems and tanks.

According to Mr Herbert, as each package included all associated equipment to carry out construction, each drill could be used almost immediately.

“We chose to engage Vermeer due to their compact machinery and success on previous projects, and we were thrilled that each package was essentially a turnkey solution that could be used almost immediately.

“The equipment was clean from the get-­go, safe and easy to operate, with ergonomic working areas that have been well thought out in design and manufacture.

“Vermeer took care of fitting­-out each vacuum unit and drill truck, which made it easy for us to mobilise very quickly to our first drill site.

“Since then, this has been a great advantage on emergency projects requiring HDD at very little notice.

“It was impressive to find that every detail had been carefully considered by Vermeer, including all safety aspects. All we have to do is get to the site and start work,” said Mr Herbert.

Increased versatility

It is not often that you come across a drilling rig that can successfully tackle a diverse range of projects with a wide range of construction parameters, said Mr Herbert.

“The rigs that we purchased were some of Vermeer’s smaller models, however they have enabled us to successfully complete grade bores of distances as long as 180m.

“One particular project required two drills of 180m, installing 250mm poly pipe. One of the pipelines was a gravity sewer main at a grade of 1­1.5 per cent.

“The second bore was a pumping main over the same distance but did not require grade.

“It was definitely a stretch for a 20,000 pound rig to tackle this length of shot with the product pipe size, however, the equipment performed so well that the sewer line’s pilot shot of the grade bore after 180m was perfect at all intersection points.

“Three reaming passes of eight, 12, and 16 inches were also made with Melfred Borzall turbo reamers, ensuring a very clean and stable hole.

“Mudex provided us with all of our drilling fluids, and were instrumental in assisting the process with the best drilling fluids for the job.

“Both pipelines were successfully installed by the new equipment from Vermeer well ahead of schedule.

“What has also been impressive is the fact that the same equipment has also been successfully used in our telecommunications work installing 50 and 100mm conduit. This highlights just how versatile the Vermeer drill packages have been,” said Mr Herbert.

Service and support after purchase

According to Mr Herbert, there has been no shortage of support from Vermeer throughout both the purchase and use of the new drilling equipment.

“Vermeer offered detailed consultation throughout the purchase of machinery, ensuring that we received exactly what we ordered.

“This support has been continued right into construction, with Vermeer offering equipment training to our crews even though the purchase has long since been made,” said Mr Herbert.

Taking asset location seriously

Fulton Hogan carries out a range of asset location procedures before undertaking any drilling or excavation work, said Mr Herbert. The company is also in the process of developing a new data tool to help inform excavators and drillers of buried assets before they begin operations.

Fulton Hogan

“Fulton Hogan has an excavation permit system requiring that all underground assets are located prior to any drilling or excavation.

“This is done with standard location equipment, ground penetrating radar and potholing. At the moment, Fulton Hogan are working closely with Vermeer to launch a new range of InSite productivity tools that have just been released in the US.

“Vermeer InSite Productivity Tools help you make better decisions — in the office, in the field or on the machine.

This set of tools collects, consolidates and conveys information to help stakeholders become more productive and aware of buried assets onsite, and Fulton Hogan want to be the first to launch this system in Australia,” said Mr Herbert.

Further expansion

With a view of expanding their drilling capability over the next 12 months to take on bigger projects, Fulton Hogan will be purchasing larger HDD equipment in the future to enable the company to tackle larger diameter and longer HDD work.

“Vermeer’s equipment technology and systems are constantly evolving, so we know that we are getting the latest and most effective systems each time.

“Because of this and our most recent successes with the drill packages, we are looking forward to being able to achieve even bigger projects across the state,” said Mr Herbert.

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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