New technology recognised by IPLOCA industry group
German tunneling specialist Herrenknecht has been awarded by major industry association the IPLOCA (International Pipeline & Offshore Contractors Association), for its new semi-trenchless method of pipe laying, the pipe express.
The method, which uses tunnel boring machine, milling unit and a pipe forcer, allows near-surface pipelines can be laid economically and in an environmentally-friendly manner.
The IPLOCA presents its award for significant innovations in the pipeline industry every two years. Doug Evans, President of the IPLOCA and CEO of Gulf Interstate Engineering, said in his speech that the Pipe Express can make a key contribution to environmental protection in pipeline projects.
According to Evans, this aspect was decisive for the jury as protection of the environment is of major importance in the development of large-scale projects.
The method allows pipelines of up to 2,000 metres in length and with diameters of 900 to 1,500 millimeters (36″ – 60″) to be installed in a single-step procedure. A tunnel boring machine loosens the soil which is then directly conveyed aboveground using a milling unit that is carried along. At the same time, the pipeline is installed underground. The significantly narrower route enables the earthwork to be reduced to a minimum with this construction method and no groundwater lowering is necessary.
Overall, the method results in a much smaller site footprint, compared with the traditionally-used side boom crawler tractor machines, which require their own working area in addition to the excavated trench.
The development of the Pipe Express was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Environment with the aim of developing a particularly environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient method for pipeline installation. It has been used in the Netherlands, and is currently in use in Bangkok, Thailand.