The Australian infrastructure sector faces many challenges, including aging assets, digitalisation, and the increasingly intense effects of climate change. Individually they are difficult to manage, but together they present both a perfect storm and an opportunity for innovation. Here, Maxibor explores how Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) can provide innovative solutions to facilitate infrastructure resilience in these challenging times.

Maxibor is an independent, Australian-owned HDD design and construct company with operational bases in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Maxibor provides HDD services across the water and sewer, rail, power, gas, telecommunications, mining, defence, fuel, sea cable, data centre and renewables sectors.

It has one of the largest HDD fleets in Australia including maxi-rigs, midi-rigs, rock-rigs and smaller rigs, with capacity to complete pipeline bores from 20m to 3km in length, with diameters from 63mm to 1.6m in diameter.

Meeting environmental requirements

The accelerating impact of age is besetting Australia’s key infrastructure assets across the water and sewer, power and telecommunications sectors.

Their current condition makes them all much more susceptible to the impacts of severe climate events in the form of wind, fire, flood, erosion, drought and inundation. Even road and rail assets are becoming exposed.

The digitalisation of critical infrastructure asset management, and the almost total functional dependency of the broader community on technology, makes the security of services and the resilience of assets a priority for all Australians.

Parallel to this is the growing need for government and private sector infrastructure investments to meet Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) requirements. Both ESG and climate are at the top of funders’ risks and they want to be able to demonstrate that they are investing in a way that optimises outcomes for all stakeholders.

In this context, trenchless technology, particularly HDD, can provide solutions which are compatible with the critical needs of funders, asset owners and the broader community.

Collaboration between the infrastructure sector and HDD industry

Installing infrastructure ‘down under’ is an apt solution for Australia. Having telecommunications and electricity assets underground provides many obvious safety and environmental benefits.

You just need to look at the ravages of the more extreme weather events like the 2019-20 bushfires to see that having infrastructure securely installed at depth provides for a safer community during these events.

It also facilitates the recovery process, as services can be restored faster, meaning business and life can get back to normal within a shorter period. But how can the infrastructure sector work with the HDD industry to achieve greater infrastructure asset resilience?

Early involvement in projects is where most value can be added. Whether it be concept development or early design, early-stage involvement of HDD design and delivery expertise can bring innovative ideas and ultimately better solutions to challenging infrastructure projects.

HDD Engineering’s Stephen Loneragan – one of Australia’s leading and original HDD design engineers with experience in complex multidisciplinary global projects – said application of early HDD design and delivery expertise to projects is particularly important in the face of new challenges presented by climate change.

“Having the combined HDD engineering design and contractor delivery experience at the project table will enable more informed decisions to be made and outcomes optimised,” Mr Loneragan said.

This is reflected in Maxibor increasingly being required to provide insights into how HDD can create solutions to projects. Input to early design concepts, together with informed construction methodology options and costings, all assist project stakeholders in making better early decisions.

Maxibor Owner and CEO, Rodney O’Meley, said, “Our push for early cooperative involvement in projects reflects the importance we place on the longer-range view – if a project is designed well, its chances of successful delivery and longer-term value are much more likely to be better achieved.

“Investment in disaster-resilient infrastructure needs to be seen not as an additional expense, but as an opportunity to create shared value for businesses and society”.

How else can HDD be part of the solution?

On major new projects such as Inland Rail, Snowy 2.0 and gas pipelines, the use of HDD to install infrastructure in more environmentally and culturally sensitive areas helps to, not only protect the infrastructure long-term, but also preserve the environment during delivery and in extreme weather events.

A recent example where HDD has been able to provide innovation solutions is the sand backpass project on the Gold Coast. Maxibor is using HDD to install parts of the 7.8km pipeline to return natural sand to the areas where it has been eroded.

This will increase the resilience of these iconic beaches to more extreme weather events. HDD also provides an ideal solution to assist with the landing of sea cables. HDD maxi-rigs are being used across Australia to achieve safer out to sea connections of international and local cables.

HDD is also an important part in the installation of desalination plants to help mitigate the effects of drought. In urban areas, installing fibre into data centres without disturbing the existing infrastructure and going under rivers, is contributing to the build of these privately owned assets with minimal impact on the community and environment.

International cables and data centres are now integral in providing the technology we all depend on daily. HDD helps to install them safely and for them to be maintained in a resilient manner.

The use of emissions-friendly electric rig spreads such as Maxibor’s Gallagher HDD660e maxi-rig (The Hulk) is also assisting in a cleaner and quieter delivery of HDD services, especially in well-established metropolitan areas.

In 2021, the trenchless industry in Australia is celebrating its 30th year and Maxibor’s staff have been there for most of those three decades. Now, more than ever, is an ideal time to seek out and understand how HDD can be part of the infrastructure asset resilience solution in the face of climate change.

This is a Sponsored Editorial is brought to you by Maxibor. For more information contact David Turner on 0499 375 511 or visit

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