Digging Deep into Horizontal Directional Drilling

Kelly Benjamin
May 29, 2015

Digging Deep into Horizontal Directional Drilling

Horizontal directional drilling, or directional boring, is a common practice nowadays for laying pipes and cables underground. It is a steerable and trenchless method that minimally affects the surrounding areas. HDD is extremely fitting in environments that do not warrant trenches or full excavations. Some examples might be roadways, waterways, or shorelines. It can be used in both soft or hard ground environments and can withstand extreme temperatures of hot or cold, making it a highly versatile form of drilling. It can also feature tremendously long piping or wiring, even up to 6500 ft, ideal for long spans of underground areas. Some materials used in HDD processes include PVC, polyethylene, polypropylene, iron, and steel. View the video below to see how horizontal directional drilling works:


Lower costs, more environmentally friendly, and deeper and longer piping/wiring are some of the benefits to choosing this method over some traditional forms of installation. Top industries that take advantage of HDD including transportation and roadway, agriculture, sewage, telecommunication, gas and energy, and more.

Although sometimes overlooked, tracer wire is an extremely important component to an HDD system for accurate locating, long after the project is complete and the pipe or duct is in service. Information is transmitted through the wire to communicate with devices on the ground level. If the proper tracer wire is accurately installed, it will make locating of the piping extremely easy in the future. It can be ducted hundreds of feet below the surface and still be detected (with the right set-up).

Stainless steel HDD wires and cables can also be used within these systems, which boast enhanced toughness and strength. Made with high molecular weight and high-density polyethylene (HMWPE/HDPE) insulators, stainless steel HDD cables are great for direct burial use and are resistant to crushing, abrasion, chemicals and moisture, making it highly functional in a variety of underground environments, especially in HDD settings.

Underground locating tracer wire, stainless steel HDD wire, and steel cables for HDD piping, are a few of our specialties at Performance Wire and Cable.  A very popular cabling system right now, many construction companies and municipalities are currently replacing old wood, concrete and cast iron pipes that were installed years ago that are leaking and rupturing.  They are choosing HDD piping as a replacement because of its toughness, durability and easy wire locating abilities, which avoid serious disruption of surrounding areas. Many are using a process called “ pipe bursting” which involves breaking the current pipe and pulling a new plastic pipe inside the burst pipe as a new (and heavily enhanced) replacement. This is done in one process by a horizontal directional drill machine and offers longevity in the piping materials. Wiring is critically important in this type of work.

Have questions about horizontal directional drilling? Let us know! We’re here to help.