A Brief History Of Horizontal Directional Drilling

texas horizontal directional drilling

Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is considered the industry standard because it’s one of the safest methods for highways bores. For both construction companies and the general public, HDD offers many benefits including minimized traffic disruption and more efficient installation.


But HDD wasn’t always the industry standard. To see just how far the HDD market has come in the last 60 years, here’s a brief history on horizontal directional drilling.


Cherrington and the start of HDD


Back in the 1960s, job sites for horizontal directional drilling were nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until Martin Cherrington observed a gas line being installed using a hand-held air drill that the idea for HDD became more than just a suggestion but a possibility.


Cherrington recognized that he could use similar principles as the air-drill installation on a large scale project. In 1964, he went out to combine air-drilling principles with guided drilling and launched his own drill rig, Titan Contractors, Inc.


Surprisingly, the first HDD rig looks very similar to the ones that are currently in use today. Cherrington and his crew relied on “potholing” to determine the angle and direction of the bore head in a basic, but impressive, early method of HDD.


The first underwater bore


The first river crossing was completed using HDD in 1971. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company asked Cherrington and his team if they could drill under the Pajaro River to install a 4-inch gas line.


To anyone else, the project may have seemed impossible. But to Cherrington and the capabilities of HDD, the job was no problem. With only a few difficulties, Cherrington completed the underwater bore in a single month.


Horizontal directional drilling takes off


After Cherrington’s success with the underwater bore at the Pajaro River, Cherrington was contracted to do another major river crossing. After the success of that crossing, he was later contracted to do another as HDD took off.


By the 1980s, the HDD market had exploded with popularity. The number of HDD units increased by over 100 between 1984 and 1994.


During the 1990s, HDD technology improved with breakthroughs in machine controls and electronic tracking, and innovations like the bottom-feed pipe loader. By the 2000s, HDD was no longer a novelty drilling technique but a major part of the drilling market.


Looking for Texas horizontal directional drilling services?


Trenchless drilling is the most efficient and effective method for highway bores. In fact, the telecommunications installation market increased its HDD market to 24.4% in 2017, according to the 2017 Horizontal Directional Drilling Survey.


If you’re looking for Texas horizontal directional drilling services in your area, look no further than American Directional Boring. We offer professional trenchless boring services so you don’t have to worry about buying all the equipment yourself. To learn more about our Texas horizontal directional drilling services, contact American Directional Boring today.

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