Pilot tube microtunneling: instrumentation and monitoring for jacking force and productivity analysis

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Trenchless technology is a group of techniques whose utilization allows for the installation, rehabilitation, and repair of underground infrastructure with minimal excavation from the ground surface. As the built environment

Trenchless technology is a group of techniques whose utilization allows for the installation, rehabilitation, and repair of underground infrastructure with minimal excavation from the ground surface. As the built environment becomes more congested, projects are trending towards using trenchless technologies for their ability to quickly produce a quality product with minimal environmental and social costs. Pilot tube microtunneling (PTMT) is a trenchless technology where new pipelines may be installed at accurate and precise line and grade over manhole to manhole distances. The PTMT process can vary to a certain degree, but typically involves the following three phases: jacking of the pilot tube string to achieve line and grade, jacking of casing along the pilot bore and rotation of augers to excavate the borehole to a diameter slightly larger than the product pipe, and jacking of product pipe directly behind the last casing. Knowledge of the expected productivity rates and jacking forces during a PTMT installation are valuable tools that can be used for properly weighing its usefulness versus competing technologies and minimizing risks associated with PTMT. This thesis outlines the instrumentation and monitoring process used to record jacking frame hydraulic pressures from seven PTMT installations. Cyclic patterns in the data can be detected, indicating the installation of a single pipe segment, and enabling productivity rates for each PTMT phase to be determined. Furthermore, specific operations within a cycle, such as pushing a pipe or retracting the machine, can be observed, allowing for identification of the critical tasks associated with each phase. By identifying the critical tasks and developing more efficient means for their completion, PTMT productivity can be increased and costs can be reduced. Additionally, variations in depth of cover, drive length, pipe diameter, and localized ground conditions allowed for trends in jacking forces to be identified. To date, jacking force predictive models for PTMT are non-existent. Thus, jacking force data was compared to existing predictive models developed for the closely related pipe jacking and microtunneling methodologies, and the applicability of their adoption for PTMT jacking force prediction was explored.