The Underground Construction Technology (UCT) conference and exhibition returned to Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center this year. The international show draws exhibitors and attendees mostly from North America, but European and Asian visitors traveled the distance as well. "I want to keep up with what is happening," said one visitor from India who had traveled 22 hours by plane.
The 10 educational tracks covered topics primarily dealing with water and sewer line construction, various methods of rehabilitation, and trenchless, or horizontal directional drilling (HDD). The overall tone of the show has moved toward the water and sewer infrastructure markets from the oil and gas industry that predominated during the show's earlier years.
The Rehab Zone, an educational path within the trade show, provides information with interactive displays providing information about the various innovative methods for rehabilitating aging water and sewer infrastructure.
Manufacturers have traditionally chosen the UCT to introduce new products to an international market.
Vactor Manufacturing debuted their HXX Prodigy vacuum excavator. If you work primarily in the Texas Hill Country, you can skip to the next manufacturer. Vacuum excavation performs "non-destructive digging," using jets of water in hydro-excavation or the optional air evacuation package, a plus for excavating in urban areas. This method minimizes damage to landscaping, and avoids the financial liability of damaging water, gas and communication lines. Market applications include oil, gas, utilities, water, sewer, landscaping, and engineering site research. Better known in Canada, vacuum excavation has potential for Texas areas with sandy, loamy or clay soil. Because so many of Vactor's customers deal with frozen ground, their trucks come equipped with a hot water heater. But that can help here, too. The Vactor people have learned that hot water makes clay softer by lowering the PI (plasticity index).
Vermeer's new quad-track RTX1250 trencher maximizes tractive effort and stability with only a 6.9-psi footprint, has relatively no break-over point, and features Loegering rubber tracks and crab steering. Here is a new trencher to slice through Texas limestone, capable of trenching depths up to 72 inches, and widths up to 18 inches and pulling plow blades up to 36 inches deep.
Vermeer also introduced their R.A.T.T. (Rock Adaptable Terrain Tool), designed for Vermeer NAVIGATOR HDD models D18x22 up to D36x50 Series II. A short tool at 70 inches in length, which includes the transmitter housing, 2-degree bent sub, bearing housing and drill bit, the R.A.T.T. provides full rotary machine torque and mud flow.
TT Technologies introduced a machine and method new to North America, allowing product pipe to be pulled inside an existing deformed pipe utilizing a hydraulic pulling unit such as the Grundoburst 400S. Tight-In-Place (TIP) pipe restoration has gained recognition in Europe to restore the roundness of small-diameter water and sewer laterals up to 15 inches in diameter. This process fills the mid-range need where pipe is too deformed for lining and too close to other infrastructure for bursting. TIP works best where existing pipe has deformed no more than 25 percent.