Taking a closer look at our top quality equipment: the Impact Mole, Grundoburst and Grundowinch
Posted 1 February 2024 by the SEL Team
For those who may be less familiar with trenchless technology and its uses in construction, this is essentially a method of installing or replacing underground piping (often to expand pipeline carrying capacity) without the need for trenching, creating minimal disturbance to the site you’re working on.
These solutions can be used for a variety of applications, including water and sewer lines, gas and oil pipelines, and communications and power cables; for instance, you might need to access a pipe beneath a busy road or carry out construction work in close proximity to a tree or other utility networks. We often see trenchless technology used at heritage sites where it’s important to avoid potential impact on structures that have been in place for hundreds of years.
What are the benefits?
Using a trenchless method can be more cost effective as it avoids the expense of more labour-intensive options or the costs involved in restoration following surface damage or arranging road closures, for example.
There are also the environmentally friendly benefits that come with avoiding a large excavation project and the impact that can potentially have on the surrounding landscape.
A safe option
There are fewer health and safety implications to consider when it comes to trenchless solutions. There’s no need to secure a trench to avoid accidents when not in use, nor the need to introduce the necessary measures to protect construction workers in and around an open excavation.
Spotlight on pipe bursters
Pipe bursters are amongst our most in-demand trenchless site equipment products and offer an efficient, convenient means of replacing buried pipelines, without the need for excavation – so let’s take a deeper dive into how pipe bursters work and where they come into play.
Pipe bursting equipment is a specialist option that comes into its own when replacing existing pipework. A burster is an extremely effective and economical form of pipe rehabilitation and works by splitting the existing pipe into the surrounding ground while pulling a new pipe through using pulling rods, including pipes of substantial lengths.
If you’re replacing a ruptured or leaking underground pipe and want to ensure its strength for decades to come, a pipe bursting method is an ideal solution.
These solutions are capable of bursting cast iron, steel, concrete and uPVC, plus a range of other materials.
Where are pipe bursters useful?
If you’re replacing a ruptured or leaking underground pipe and want to ensure its strength for decades to come, a pipe bursting method is an ideal solution. As such, we find they’re often used when upgrading or renewing historic underground pipelines, such as old drainage networks, and bringing them up to modern standards.
Among the common uses of a pipe bursting method is to replace a sewer line; with reports of sewage spills often hitting the headlines, it’s been widely acknowledged that our water systems need upgrading and the current infrastructure isn’t up to the standards it should be.
Pipe bursting solutions can play a role in the works needed to expand pipeline carrying capacity and address the environmental impact of these outdated systems.
Finding the right kind of pipe bursting method for any particular job will depend on the size and material of the existing pipe, the size of the replacement pipe (for example you may be working with a large pipe or replacing smaller pipes) plus the ground conditions. Our team has the expertise to advise on which pipe bursting product can best meet those needs.
The market leading Grundoburst range is a well-established pipe bursting option that works highly efficiently and offers a reliable solution when working with buried pipelines. The range includes 400g and 800g models, both of which are relatively compact, low weight, and manoeuvrable compared to other pipe bursting choices. For example, a pipe bursting rig plus power pack would be too heavy to fit on to a 3.5t flatbed truck.
The Grundoburst pipe burster uses a guide rod to navigate debris and obstacles in the existing pipe; once the rod has worked its way through, it’s connected to a new pipe, blade roller, and expander.
The rod is then pulled back, cutting and bursting the old pipe and pulling through the new pipe as it goes.
As the Grundoburst is equipped with 40t / 80t on pull back, there’s complete control of the pipe burst, while the bladed wheels split the host pipe in a ‘clean’ process that uses less power than other static pipe bursting systems and helps prevent potential damage to the new pipe.
A level of training, which we can provide, is required before using a pipe bursting solution, but once in place it’s relatively easy to set up and operate a system such as the Grundoburst and a minimal crew size is needed.
To maximise the safety of a pipe bursting project, we recommend the QuickLock ladder rod system; QuickLock bursting rods quickly and easily link together, greatly reducing the amount of time needed to load compared to a standard screw-together stem system.
While pipe bursters are a specialist option, other trenchless technologies include impact moles, a no-dig solution that offers a simple way of getting a pipe or cable line through displaceable soils such as sand, loam, and gravel.
We’re confident this is the safest rod system available for pipe bursting.
What accessories will you need?
There are only six core pieces of equipment used on a pipe burster: the rod, the expander, towing head, rig (power pack), bursting unit, and delta blade (rollerblade) – all elements can be sent on a trailer if requested, providing scope to install up to 200m per day.
Furthermore, all pipe bursting rigs are supplied with 100m of rods, with extra rods for 400G available, and we can also provide a 35mm rod system for 50mm pipes.
While pipe bursters are a specialist option that come into their own when replacing existing pipes, other trenchless technology options include impact moles, a no-dig solution that offers a simple way of getting a pipe or cable line through displaceable soils such as sand, loam, and gravel.
Also known as a soil displacing hammer, impact moles are driven through the ground with compressed air and, as a result, require minimum excavation.
They can be used with minimal training and only two small pits are required – one entry and one exit.
A useful practical example for when an impact mole could work well is when linking a fibreoptic broadband cable directly to a property or when installing a phone line; when used for these kind of applications, impact moles are sometimes referred to as cable moles.
To ensure there is no friction or drag, the impact mole must be larger than the product; for instance, 45mm lays pipes up to 32mm but our team are happy to advise if there’s any doubt as to which option would work best for a particular pipe or line.
An easy and safe way to pull cables or pipes underground, winches allow you to control the speed of the line and tonnage and to avoid stretching of the pipe or cable.
Another use for cable winches is sliplining, where you need to pull a smaller pipe through a bigger existing pipe.
We recommend the Grundowinch, which features a large capacity storage drum to suit all operations, with benefits including a sound absorbing design to reduce noise pollution on site.
The right advice
If you’re approaching a construction project where a trenchless method could come into play, we can advise on the best equipment to choose, including which pipe bursting method is most appropriate for the size of the existing pipe you’re working on (whether that’s for smaller pipes or a larger old pipe) and the specific accessories you’ll need.
For example, we offer a full range of pipe towing heads, from 50mm up to 330mm, including mud-tight options to help avoid contamination of your pipe.
We offer a full site assessment for all our trenchless equipment, giving our customers help and advice where needed.
And, as with all construction equipment we provide, our pipe bursting equipment and other trenchless solutions are regularly checked by our team to ensure they meet all necessary health and safety standards and certification requirements.To find out more, including answers to any technical enquiries, contact your nearest depot.