When selecting a microtunnelling contractor, mobility is perhaps not one of the criteria that is top of mind; cost, timeframe for project delivery and safety are higher considerations, and rightly so. However, mobility can also impact these factors, increasing efficiency, productivity and ensuring the installation is completed to a high standard, so it is worth keeping it in mind when selecting a contractor.

A mobile crew

A key benefit of selecting a mobile contractor is their ability to arrive at the jobsite, no matter the location, in a short timeframe, and with the correct equipment – including spare parts and backups – and a sufficient number of personnel to carry out the works.

This results in a high level of project efficiency, which is something all project managers want to achieve, as it will ensure the trenchless crossing is completed on schedule so the rest of the project can continue to the expected time frame.

It is also likely that a mobile contractor has a greater wealth of experience and expertise across a wider range of ground conditions compared to a contractor that works in only one region, as they have had the chance to work on jobsites around the country.

This experience is paramount to achieving a successful outcome for a microtunnelling project, as there is less chance that an unexpected complication will occuring due to ground conditions changing mid-drill or being different to what was expected.

A contractor that has dealt with a wide range of ground conditions before will be able to make a quick and confident decision about how to best adapt the cutter face to ensure minimal project time is lost. This is something that only comes with the experience from working on projects in a variety of locations.

For example, Edge Underground has between four to six mobile crews at a time, depending on demand, and through years worth of experience in Australia and overseas we have developed a system for transporting equipment and organising personnel that is efficient and seamless. As we have multiple crews, we also have the option to split up teams to bring more personnel onto a job if required.

Since our teams are permanently set up to be self-sufficient and mobile, for us to travel to another part of the state or to a different state, the only thing we require is for accommodation to be sorted out, and maybe to source local support for engineering or basic jobsite requirements.

A mobile fleet

Mobility of a contractors machine fleet also becomes an important consideration when it comes to transporting equipment and the site footprint.

Using a contractor that has modular equipment means they can move between job sites quickly and easily as they can tailor which equipment they transport to suit the project and site conditions.

The AXIS machine was designed to be modular to allow contractors to move around quickly and easily, and to be transported using a number of different truck or trailer setup options and configured to suit the customers needs.

Mobility therefore can have a big impact on those other front of mind factors, and should be taken into consideration when selecting a microtunnelling contractor.

About Stuart Harrison

Global microtunnelling pioneer Stuart Harrison is the Managing Director of Edge Underground, where he specialises in on-grade microtunnelling installations with millimetre accuracy. Stuart is also the inventor of the Vermeer AXIS Guided Boring system, and he is constantly working to improve the effectiveness of this and other trenchless systems used in the installation of gravity sewers. To discuss your next microtunnelling installation, contact Stuart on 1300 JACKED or at [email protected].

This Ask an Expert content was 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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