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December 2017


Despite superstition, Friday, October 13 turned out to be a lucky day indeed for Midwest microtunneling contractor Super Excavators, Inc. and Superior Stones Canal CSO Improvement Project owner, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). The date marked the successful completion of Super Excavators, Inc. (SEI)/CRS Tunneling, Inc.’s (CRS) third curved microtunnel, the second that they’ve completed in Cleveland, OH on the Project Clean Lake initiative.

SEI has earned a reputation as a leading North American microtunneling contractor by their fearless ambition to tackle the most complex microtunneling projects, and in 2013 began a flourishing curved microtunneling service category.

The Superior Stones Canal CSO Improvement Project involves the construction of two force mains and a gravity sewer, a new wet weather pump station and upgrade to an existing pump station to increase capacity and reduce an annual estimate of 13-million gallons of raw sewage discharge into the Cuyahoga River.


Contractor pilot tube ingenuity has been consistent since we first introduced our guided boring systems in 2001. Occasionally an innovative pilot tube approach creates demand for a specialized service all its own. Such is the case with the guided pipe ramming method for The Tunneling Company (TTC), formerly Kamloops Augering & Boring, Ltd., who first incorporated this method into their standard service portfolio eight years ago.

Recently the Ministry of Transportation required the installation of two new culverts in the McDowell Creek for passage under Highway 16, two kilometers (1.2 mi) east of the village of Telkwa in the providence of British Columbia, Canada.

Belvedere Place Contracting Ltd. was the successful prime contractor on the Highway 16 Tyhee Passing Lane project. The full scope includes the construction of a 2.3 km (1.4 mi) eastbound passing lane added to Highway 16 near Tyhee Lake and a two kilometer (1.2 mi) extension of the existing pass lane. The project is part of a $37.7 million effort allocated for five new passing lanes on Highway 16 and 37 and 10-year transportation plan to improve travel safety and growth.

Belvedere subcontracted TTC to install a 2440mm (96-in.), 45m (147-ft.) main culvert and 1200mm (48-in.), 43m (141-ft.) overflow culvert for McDowell Creek flow under Highway 16. The two new culverts are approximately 2.4m (8-ft.) apart at a 4.5% grade. The overflow culvert was positioned slightly higher at 0.5m (1.6-ft.) at the invert.

Harry Dickinson, project coordinator and estimator at TTC described, “We originally planned on just open-ended pipe ramming but due to the culverts’ grade tolerances we could not risk any deviation so opted to guide the pipe string with pilot tubes.”


Tunnelling Solutions (TS) of Melbourne is known throughout Australia as a full-service, specialized tunneling contractor with a team representing decades of technical tunneling experience.

One of TS’s ambitions of late was to expand their range of services to take on piped canopy projects. By combining guided boring pilot tube technology with an adjustable support and tension frame, they’ve developed an approach for consistent and repetitive success. In the past six months, they’ve packaged this service offering for use on three projects.

Guided Piped Canopy Method

The method of guided piped canopy installations, also called guided pipe roofing, is used for short tunnels, culverts or crossings for extra reinforcement in heavily traversed regions for stress distribution and to mitigate ground settlement. Connected lengths of steel casing, called canopy tubes, are installed to provide an arch or crown above a support structure, culvert or tunnel.

First, pilot tubes are successively installed on line and grade. To do this, the Guided Boring Machine (GBM) jacking frame is positioned on an adjustable platform to relocate the point of entry for each pilot tube pass. Next, the GBM jacking frame installs the steel casing canopy tubes into the precise position, using 6m (20-ft.) versus 1m (3.3-ft.) segment lengths to expedite installation. The casing is filled with concrete, void filling is inserted around the outside of the casing, and the support structure is fitted and finished below the arch.


Earlier this year, we welcomed Weston Alberts to our engineering team as Senior Project Engineer. Alberts’ primary focus is electrical design and control systems for all Akkerman equipment.


Our newest lubrication solution for pipe jacking and microtunneling operations, the Akkerman Bentonite Injection System (ABIS) delivers automated bentonite injection at optimal tunnel intervals to reduce jacking forces and facilitate efficient and extended length pipe jacking. The ABIS package delivers totalized flow control at each valve location using touch screen functionality from the main system monitor.

This ABIS system is comprised of a Control Skid housing the flow meter and Monitor Touch Screen. It connects up to 10 Remote Station Control Boxes, each with three linked Automated Injection Ball Valve Assemblies for point flow distribution onto the pipe annulus. The Remote Station Control Boxes are also capable of controlling and monitoring Intermediate Jacking Stations (IJSs) functions. The standard ABIS configuration equips microtunneling and pipe jacking contractors with components for a 2,000-linear foot tunnel, and the flexibility to suit a variety of project conditions. The distance between Remote Station Control Boxes and Automated Injection Ball Valve Assemblies is determined by the contractor and individual project requirements.


The Underground Construction Technology (UCT) show kicks off the 2018 tradeshow schedule on January 30 through February 1 in New Orleans. We’ll provide attendees with information on guided boring applications and be available in Booth #708 for discussion.

As a premier pilot tube guided boring and microtunneling equipment supplier, we're proud to once again take part in the 25th Annual Pilot Tube Microtunneling/Microtunneling Short Course and support it as the main event sponsor. The short course takes place at University of Colorado at Boulder February 5-8. 2018. Be sure to take advantage of our open invitation to attend our evening reception on Wednesday, February 7.

The No-Dig 2018 Show is being held in Palm Springs, CA on March 25-29, 2018. Attend our guided boring presentation and visit us in Booth #309!

Save the Date - September 18-20, 2018 - for our Equipment Training School and Akktoberfest 45th Anniversary Celebration! More details coming soon!

June 2017


At the end of March, LTL Directional Drilling Ltd. of Shuniah, ON completed a 280-lf. foot, 86-in. OD steel casing culvert with a Series II 720 TBM and Tunnel Boring System. The TBM system was used in a remote location on the Camp Creek Culvert project under Highway 627, in Marathon, near Huron Bay, Ontario. The project is owned by The Ministry of Transportation.

Highway 627 is the only access road in the region, so during construction one lane of traffic had to be maintained at all times. The new culvert was installed along the embankments on either side of the highway, with 70-ft. of cover above the pipe to the roadway. The culvert that was being replaced was prone to washout at the inlet and outlet points, and was buckling and rusting throughout and below its invert. The project goal was to extend the new culvert further outward along the embankments to integrate proper erosion control.

The contractor selected a closed face cutter head for the Series II 720 TBM, to prevent subsidence of the silt and sandy ground into the TBM interior. They combined the TBM with a Tunneling Boring System including a 5200 Pump Unit for hydraulic jacking and TBM supply functions with 400 tons of thrust capacity, a thrust yoke and several sizes of skid base to accommodate the 40-ft. steel casing, a 1548 Haul Unit for soil transportation and a EH2250 Bentonite Pump to lubricate the outside of the pipe.

The precarious nature of the weather created challenges at the onset of the project. During the three weeks that the contractor was on-site, the temperatures varied from a low of -31 degrees to a high of 53 degrees. An early thaw caused delays on the construction of the concrete launch shaft and reaction block. Just when everything dried out well enough to construct the shaft to launch the TBM, the region experienced extreme cold temperatures causing the moisture in the ground to suddenly freeze then thaw once again a few days later.

Wet flowing ground created immense friction around the first 40-ft. length pipe and required the crew to rethink their strategy. Their solution was to add advanced jacking tonnage to the pipe string with Intermediate Jacking Stations (IJS) positioned between each pipe joint and 40 lubrication ports throughout, supplementing the pipe string with an additional 495 tons per IJS adding an extra 2,970 tons. The method proved to be a good decision and enabled crews to complete the replacement culvert within just two-weeks time.

The Tunneling Company (formerly Kamloops Augering and Boring, Ltd.), and veteran guided boring contractor recently completed 190-lf. (58m) and 157-lf. (48m) 24-in. (600 mm) steel casing crossings by guiding their auger bore machine with a GBM 240A system in Fort McMurrary, AB. To assist with thrust load in region’s weathered clay shale and clay till ground conditions, the contractor tried out the new GBM Bearing Swivel Assembly and were pleased with their results.

The Confederation Way Sanitary Sewer Bypass, Phase 2 – Contract 1 will provide sanitary sewer capacity upgrades for future growth to the Timberlea residential area’s sewer system and alleviate potential flood risks. Phase 2 extends the sanitary sewer along Confederation Way and Prospect Drive to connect to the existing wastewater treatment facility.

Both guided auger boring trenchless crossings took place under the six-lane Confederation Way, and were initiated from the southern side of the highway under active traffic. The contractor first installed pilot tubes using their GBM 240A system. When they were all the way across, the GBM Bearing Swivel Assembly was positioned between the cutter bit and the pilot tube adapter to absorb the rotational torque of the augers during excavation and maintain the pilot tube alignment. Both steel casing bores were finished in two weeks and filled with a 15-in. (375 mm) PVC carrier pipe.

Harry Dickinson, Project Coordinator and Estimator for The Tunneling Company stated, “The Akkerman swivel was very integral to our success with installing the casings. The ground conditions required more than the typical weld-on reaming head and brute force. Fabrication and ingenuity was instrumental with our success. Hats off to my crew and product support by Akkerman.”

Contract 1 in total contains 3,936-lf. (1,200m) of open-cut sanitary sewers, north of Confederation Way, and 1,493-lf. (455m) of trenchless installations by guided auger boring and microtunneling methods for minimized traffic disturbances along the main thoroughfares. All construction on Contract 1 is scheduled for completion by November 2017. The project is owned by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and was designed by Associated Engineering Alberta.

This month in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico contractor Ingenieria En Tuneles Y Redes S.A. DE C.V. (InturlCA) has been installing new utilities for the Monterrey International Airport on the Ampliación de Plataformas En Aeropuerto de Monterrey project which led to the first ever guided auger boring installation in Mexico.

InturlCA is the largest auger boring contractor in Mexico, has 15 years of experience in the industry and owns a fleet of auger bore machines. Despite all their success, their ability to provide an accurate alignment has been absent from their toolbox–until now.

On one run InturlCA was tasked with installing 197-lf. (60m) of 36-in. steel casing to meet a utility junction box on the south side of a taxiway. This challenge was compounded by the region's ground conditions which contained 5,000 psi weathered rock. In addition, there was minimal cover above the proposed alignment and the utility work could not disrupt taxiway traffic.

InturlCA reached out to Underground Construction Supply (UCS), dealer for Akkerman in Mexico to procure equipment and tooling capable of assisting their auger boring machine for this run. After review of the project with UCS, the Rock Drill Adapter (RDA) with a TriHawk® I drill bit for a pilot tube installation in rock, and a Guide Rod Swivel (GRS) 50 to increase to the 36-in. steel casing diameter were selected to round out their GBM 240A system package.

Since this was the contractor’s first project guiding their auger boring machine, an Akkerman field technician was mobilized to instruct the crew on the pilot tube installation process with the RDA, GRS-50 operation as well as oversee the lubrication application based on the tooling’s reaction to the ground.

InturlCA’s crew quickly picked up on the method for precise incremental steering corrections to keep the pilot tubes on line and grade using the RDA and drill bit tooling. Two days later, the pilot tubes were across and they were ready for the 36-in. steel casing installation with the GRS-50. After minimal GRS-50 instruction, the Akkerman field technicians returned home and the InturlCA crew completed the remainder of the alignment and finished on June 12.

Word has traveled fast about InturlCA’s successful guided auger bore, which has lead to additional opportunities in the area. They added a 459-lf. (140m) alignment to their contract at the airport to install 24-in. steel casing for a fuel line in cemented rock. They also have a 358-lf. (109m) steel casing bore on their schedule in Columbia, Nuevo Leon which will take place in the near future.

InturlCA, like the many auger boring come guided auger boring contractors before them, have discovered that the ability for an accurate casing installation opens the door to new opportunities to go further, faster, in harder ground while reducing overall project costs.


How to choose the right swivel for guided steel casing or guided auger boring projects is a frequent question from our customers. Since we offer several options to suit a wide variety of geological conditions, the question warrants a more thorough review.

The original Guide Rod Swivel (GRS) 25 has been available since 2003, shortly after we began manufacturing GBM systems and marks the period of time when the guided auger boring application became a common practice. The GRS-25 has been used on countless guided auger boring projects. The 25 denotes the total tonnage that the tooling is able to withstand, hence 25 tons of continuous thrust. On a guided auger boring application, the GRS-25 is positioned between the pilot tube adapter and steel casing cutter bit. It connects with a 3-inch hex to the lead auger hex and pilot tube adapter and functions to maintain pilot tube line and grade by preventing rotation of the pilot tubes while the cutter bit excavates for the final diameter pipe installation. Every project is different but in general we recommend the GRS-25 for projects that are 24-inches in diameter and less than 200-linear feet.

The GBM Bearing Swivel Assembly was introduced in 2015, heeding the call for a more robust swivel design over the GRS-25 with a competitive price tag but able to withstand double or 50 tons of continuous thrust for stiff and difficult geology. The GBM Bearing Swivel contains multiple bearings to effectively absorb the rotation of the pilot tubes. It also connects to the lead auger hex and pilot tube adapter and functions to hold line and grade for the final steel casing installation on guided steel casing or guided auger boring projects presenting difficult ground without rock. It can be paired with a cutter bit, Guide Rod Swivel (GRS) 50 or the Rock Boring Unit (RBU) assemblies. With the addition a few parts from the GRS-25 assembly, the GBM Bearing Swivel Assembly can be pulled back for obstacle removal to later reinsert the guide rod into the pilot tube adapter. The GBM Bearing Swivel is recommended for 24-30-in. pipe installations that are up to 400-linear feet.

The Guide Rod Swivel (GRS) 50 is a new cutter head assembly that was introduced in 2016. Think one bearing swivel, various sizes of interchangeable cutter heads and pilot tube guide rod combined. The GRS-50 design contains five sizes of high thrust bearing cutter heads that match common steel casing diameters and can be interchanged on a universal bearing swivel. The GRS-50 is able to withstand up to 50 tons of continuous thrust to excavate stiff and difficult ground. The GRS-50 assembly has a reusable, weld-on steel casing housing, a cutter head with retractable wings (containing the same tried and true bits used on our TBMs), a bearing swivel that connects to the auger string and a guide rod that is inserted in the pilot tube adapter. If an obstacle is encountered, the contractor can pull back the cutter head and augers, remove the obstacle and reconnect with the guide rod without losing line and grade. To provide adequate lubrication to flush the cutting face, the recommended connection for the GRS-50 to the pilot tube string is with a male thread pilot tube adapter and five-foot guide rod.

If in doubt of your project needs, your sales manager is always just a phone call away!


The Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technologies (CATT) and the NASTT British Columbia Chapter have teamed up to offer the Trenchless Technology Roadshow 2017 in Richmond, BC on September 25-27. We’ll provide attendees with information on guided boring applications on Day 2 of the conference and be available both days in the exhibit hall, Booth #108 for discussion.

The Trenchless World Congress in Plaza Mayor Medellin, Columbia is also taking place on September 25-27. See us and our representatives from Underground Construction Supply (UCS) Mexico in Booth #613.

And 2017 marks the biennial International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, KY. ICUEE is one of our favorite shows because we get to bring our equipment directly to you! Look for our tent and equipment display in outdoor Booth K105!

March 2017


J & J Boring, Inc. of Winfield, MO has been involved in a flurry of pipe jacking, microtunneling and guided boring projects as of late. Their most recent project was to install three inline sanitary sewers, totaling 1,140-lf. under the Wolf River using an Akkerman microtunneling system. The Wolf River at McLean Siphon Repair project for the City of Memphis, TN replaced aging triple barrel siphons, first constructed in 1958, and connected to the 84-in. Wolf River Interceptor. The City of Memphis utilized JWS & Associates for the project’s design and Magnolia Underground Construction Inc. as general contractor.

The construction site is just upstream of the Mississippi River which historically experiences seasonal high water levels. With a narrow window of opportunity for the barrel siphon installations, the project demanded a skilled subcontractor. The City of Memphis required that the tunneling subcontractor have previous experience installing a minimum of 10,000-lf. of 42-in. diameter or larger jacking pipe at depths of at least 20-ft. below grade. J & J Boring, Inc.’s 30 years of experience and portfolio of successful trenchless projects qualified them as the Wolf River project’s ideal microtunneling partner.

The alignment for the barrel siphons is located a mere 10-ft. below the Wolf River flowline in sandy clay, course gravel and river rock ground conditions. J & J Boring, Inc. consulted Akkerman to review the project specifications and together they selected a new SL44C microtunneling system as the best solution to install the 45-in. ID Flowtite jacking pipe.

Each 380-lf. barrel siphon was launched from a single, 20-ft. deep shaft with minimal horizontal clearance between each installation. J & J Boring, Inc. completed the three alignments while achieving outstanding productivity with their microtunneling system and maintaining exact line and grade. The first drive was completed on Friday, February 17th in just four, 10-hour shifts. Next, the crew mobilized the SL44C MTBM back to the launch shaft to set-up for the second run. On this run, they were able to exceed the first drive’s production rate by installing 220-lf. in a single shift. On Friday, February 24th the SL44C emerged from the second run in just two, 10-hour shifts. Last week and they logged another 200-lf. shift on the final run before its completion in just 22 hours total production time on Friday, March 3.

The City of Memphis was onsite to witness the arrival of the MTBM into the reception shaft last Friday. The Mississippi River is predicted to rise 14-ft. this week, so the project's completion is not only a great accomplishment but also very timely.

Pilot tube technology has become an essential element in the success of a high profile project in Dubai, UAE. Directional Drilling Technology has been using a GBM 4812 system to install 296 pilot tube bores averaging 40 m (151-lf.) each along a bridge foundation on the One Za’abeel project. The complete project entails the construction of two mixed-use towers which share a common base and flank a bridged highway. The project is located between the Dubai World Trade Centre and Za’abeel Park and is owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

After several initial unsuccessful attempts using an HDD system, the contractor switched to pilot tube technology to achieve accurate line and grade and tension cables to provide structural foundation support. The pilot tube bores are completed with a 6-in. HDPE sleeve and filled with tension cables that connect to the opposing foundation wall. The tension cables provide bridge stability during the excavation and foundation structural support during the future construction of the towers. The bores are situated along six elevations, up to 25 m (82-ft.) deep and the region’s ground conditions consist of sandstone that is densely compacted in the lower elevations.

Directional Drilling Technology has been working on the project since January 2017. General contractor Al Dhafra & Contracting Co. WLL recently purchased and took delivery of two GBM 240A systems. Directional Drilling Technology crews will use the combined GBM fleet to maintain the project schedule and achieve their goal of completing five pilot tube installations per shift.


Often the most discussed slurry microtunneling projects represent a small percentage of high-risk, extreme length and complex alignments, however, these projects are not indicative of the largest percentage of microtunneling work that is occurring on a daily basis in the North American microtunneling market. The most complex projects are impressive in their own right, but they sometimes overshadow everyday microtunneling project successes. It bears repeating that slurry microtunneling has many inherent benefits to project owners, engineers, and contractors over and above tunnel length, alignment, diameter and effective risk management.

Throughout the past twenty-three years that we’ve been manufacturing microtunneling systems, we’ve made capabilities enhancements to address a full range of microtunneling industry needs. In recent years we released face-access, microtunneling systems, our self-surveying, long distance guidance package, computer-controlled bentonite injection systems, high capacity jacking frames and other advanced ancillary equipment to achieve record-breaking milestones. Nevertheless, we understand that most owners, engineers, and contractors do not require such sophistication on the majority of their projects.

J&J Boring, Inc.’s Wolf River at McLean Siphon Repair project perfectly illustrates the pairing of ideal technology to skillfully, safely and efficiently complete a project. When our customers succeed, we share in their accomplishment knowing that we were able to provide the best equipment solution.

Team Akkerman is committed to making every effort to position our equipment on your next pipe jacking or tunneling project, whether it is 80 or 8,000-ft. – through equipment sales, leasing or rent from our extensive equipment rental fleet. We are proud to be the only Made in the USA, North American manufacturer of our variety of equipment with exceptional sales and service that sets us apart from our competition. Contact a sales engineer to discuss your next project's requirements.


Up to 42-in. rock utility installations are now a reality for Guided Boring Machine (GBM) contractors with the release of our exclusive Rock Boring Unit (RBU). Using the 24, 30, 36 and 42-in. diameter RBU, contractors are now able to use existing equipment for a steel casing installation using pilot tubes in up to 18,000 psi UCS ground conditions or an unguided installation in up to 25,000 psi UCS geology.

The RBU consists of a casing assembly specific to the project pipe diameter, bearing assembly with a 4-in. hex connection and a high thrust load bearing cutter head with disc cutters capable of up to 90,000 lbf. thrust loads on the RBU-42. The RBU increases the diameter of the bore by fracturing and excavating rock with aggressive 6.7-in. disc cutters. The cuttings enter the RBU face and travel through casings and augers for removal.

Rock boring can be achieved multiple ways when powered with Akkerman GBM equipment or any conventional auger boring machine system. When the RBU is guided, it follows the pilot tube string, led by a Rock Drill Adapter (RDA), rock appropriate TriHawk® drill bit and lubrication regime to displace cuttings. The RBU follows the pilot tube adapter and connects to the lead casing and auger hex.

There are several flexible means for direct steel casing installations with an RBU following the pilot tube pass. The operation can be powered by a GBM 4800 Series system with a High-Torque Casing Adapter for added torque or an Augering Adapter Assembly for rock discharge. Guided auger boring contactors use their GBM 240A system for a RDA pilot tube installation with any conventional auger boring machine system to power the RBU steel casing pass.

For unguided applications without a pilot tube installation, the RBU pilot tube hex connection void is filled with a full-face disc cutter insert, and the RBU is launched by the auger boring machine.

The RBU created quite the stir when it was revealed for the first time at the UCT 2017 and Microtunneling Short Course. Its aesthetic appeal, situated on the GBM 4800 Series Jacking Frame was a primary draw to our UCT booth, earning Akkerman a 2017 UCT ShowStopper award!

Learn more about the RBU here.


One of the joys that we have as a business in a small town is our ability to support local community initiatives and make a significant impact. Recently we had the privilege of sponsoring the Imperial George Vex Robotics Team comprised of six local home-schooled high school students ages 14-18, where one team member is a Brownsdale resident.

Team Imperial George came to fruition in 2014 and is now in its third season of competing in the Vex Robotics circuit. The team is aptly named Imperial to command superiority and George, a legacy name from the team’s first introduction to the VEX Robotics program and also from the Greek meaning tiller of the soil or farmer.

The robot is remotely controlled and capable of throwing large jack-like stars and foam blocks over a 2.5-foot fence. Competition winners are established by the highest quantity of objects thrown and their range of distance in a two-minute interval. The team can earn additional points if the robot is able to extend a hook to connect to a vertical PVC pipe to successfully suspend itself mid-air until the conclusion of the match. Recent enhancements to the robot allow it to travel from left to right as well as forward and backward and the addition of pinchers for a better grasp.

Through these endeavors, the team is learning a variety of valuable life skills. Robot building and coding come secondary to the broader experiences through collaboration, problem-solving, mechanical engineering and STEM principals. This ambitious group is also responsible for fundraising, fund management and community service projects. Two volunteer adult mentors advise the team but do not assist with the project itself.

After finishing in first place at their first tournament, and second place at their next tournament, Imperial George has qualified to participate in the Minnesota State Tournament and will proceed to the Create US Open Robotics Championship Nationals in Council Bluffs, IA in April 2017. Our sponsorship fees will assist building and student travel expenses.


We’ll be in Dubai at Trenchless Middle East, stand #24 on March 13-14.

April 9-13, 2017 marks the 2017 NASTT No-Dig Show in Washington, D.C. Come see us in booth #516 and check out our microtunneling presentation on Monday, April 10 at 4:35 p.m.

In June you'll find us in San Diego, CA at the Rapid Excavation & Tunneling Conference (RETC) 2017, booth #906.

September 2016

May 2016


In late April, Brotherton Pipeline, Inc. (BPL) of Gold Hill, OR embarked on what was expected to be the first of three, routine guided auger boring installations. The contractor requested a field technician for the initial drive to provide crew training on their GBM 240A guided boring system and target visibility on extended runs. Through adversity, they ended up learning a whole lot more than they anticipated and as an additional benefit, took part in the longest run to date for the Rock Drill Adapter and drill bit tooling.

The SL38-300 project is located in Bakersfield, CA, owned by SoCalGas, and BPL is trenchless subcontractor to Snelson Companies, Inc. of Sedro Woolley, WA.

The alignment was 400-linear feet at a flat grade, 10-feet below an irrigation canal and 20-feet below surface level. Two future runs will lengthen the gas line from an open cut extension under Highway 99 to meet an in-road drive at a SoCalGas facility. The soil conditions were noted as compacted sands with some variability and blow counts around 20. The three 12-inch diameter casing runs totaled 1,070-linear feet. For completion, eight inch diameter gas line will be pulled in as the casing is removed and the general contractor will finish with grouting.

Right out of the gate with the pilot tube installation, initial jacking pressures rose to 70 tons with rotational pressures at 3,500 psi, indicating that the geology was in fact much denser than expected. As a first course of action the contractor pulled back the pilot tubes and replaced the 45-degree steering head with the bullet steering head, designed to aggressively displace high blow count ground conditions. Unfortunately the change provided no relief to jacking and rotational pressures. Next, the polymer based lubrication was substituted for a bentonite mixture with a higher gel strength and suspension agents to prevent absorption.

At 258-linear feet into the bore the pilot tube string started to bow, jacking pressures rose to 75 tons and the steering head was deflected downward causing the operator to lose sight of the target. The crew pulled back a few feet of pilot tubes, increased the volume of lubrication and made another attempt at advancement to little avail.

Shortly thereafter, the steering head reacted as though it had encountered an obstacle and further jacking was not possible. Luckily, the bore had progressed beyond the edge of the canal structure in an area with surface accessibility. The next morning a hydrovac service arrived and drilled down to the area of incidence, which surprisingly revealed no obvious obstruction.

Project Superintendent with BPL, John Kelly, realized that the project was at a crossroads. An open trench at this depth would have required a great deal of soil displacement. Furthermore, it was not likely that the landowner would permit an open trench and even if they did, there would not have been enough clearance around the perimeter for a shaft without encroaching on the irrigation canal.

At this point, the Akkerman field technician shared examples of past successes with the new Rock Drill Adapter using a Tri-Hawk® drill bit and offered it as a possible solution to the dilemma.

The inaugural pilot tube rock bore took place in September 2015 in Australia and to date, subsequent runs up to 225-feet have been achieved in soft rock in North America. The technology is based on directional drilling tooling for hard ground conditions yet the guidance and pilot tube installation processes are the same. Even though the tooling is designed for rock density which has been tested to up 10,000 psi, thus far it had not been used in ground conditions less than 6,000 psi. Furthermore, the tooling’s lengthiest run to date was nearly half of this length.

Despite these circumstances, Kelly remarked, “We had nothing to lose. It was something that the field technician suggested and we agreed to give it a shot since we had no alternative.” BPL received permission for its use from the general contractor and the tooling was expedited for delivery the following morning.

The Rock Drill assembly was launched into the existing bore path early the next morning. Given that over half of the bore was already hollowed out, the first length of the install went relatively quickly, and few steering corrections were necessary.

Steering with the Rock Drill Adapter is managed differently than when advancing a pilot tube string with a steering head although, the means and method for guidance control is identical. The LED target, located just behind the drill bit was visible and its position was assessed by the operator on the monitor to guide steering corrections. Consistent low pressure was maintained for jacking control, while the operator slowly advanced and rotated the tooling from the ten to two or four to eight o’clock positions for upward or downward movement. Advancement of the drill head was maintained in a clockwise motion to prevent the pilot tubes from unthreading. This progression continued until the entire installation was completed at the end of the shift.

Although the Rock Drill Adapter was used a bit outside of its intended wheelhouse, it turned out to be the right tool for the job.

Kelly commented, “BPL, Snelson and SoCalGas were all very pleased with the alignment’s success. We were basically at a dead end. You can’t auger bore 12-inch casing that far and be accurate. We requested a field technician to provide training and hopefully bore assurance, and that’s what we got.”

Construction on subsequent 450 and 220 linear foot runs began in May and the contractor plans to install them with guided auger boring methods. If not, BPL can proceed with confidence knowing that they have tooling choices to overcome nearly any challenge.

Since November of 2015, Calgary Tunnelling & Horizontal Augering Ltd. with offices in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, has been using two guided boring systems on the colossal Edmonton Arena District (EAD) project in downtown Edmonton, AB. One of the GBM systems was selected to address a specific circumstance for six steel casing sewers, and without it, installation would have been impossible.

Calgary Tunnelling was approached by the project’s lead contractor, Borger Construction, and asked to suggest options for short run casings installations from deep, small shafts. Alan Cluett, Senior Project and Estimating Manager at Calgary Tunnelling was familiar with the GBM 4800 Series system, and knew it was an unequaled solution for this situation. Cluett explained, "Because the project is in the heart of downtown Edmonton, the sheer number of underground obstructions, existing lines and infrastructure was brutal and there were massive quantities of it. The equipment allowed us to dig a pit and drill and with only 15-feet [4.5 m] of room. With conventional auger boring equipment, you'd need at least 25 feet [7.6 m]." The GBM 4800 Series is small enough to fit within the necessary footprint to allow for continued traffic flow during construction and powerful enough to handle the range of pipe diameters.

The GBM 4800 Series Jacking Frame was positioned on the standard 4.2 m (14-foot) frame skid to fit inside the 4.5 m (15-foot) shafts. The jacking frame can also be supplemented with skid extensions for many combinations of pipe lengths and shaft configurations. It was outfitted with a new Augering Adapter Assembly which provides a means for soil discharge for up to 900 mm (36-inch) steel casing by using up to 35,251 Nm (26,000-ft-lbs) of torque from the jacking frame’s gear box.

This GBM 4800 system was used to install six, 83 m (273-feet) average drives in depths from 3-6 m (10-20-feet) to circumvent the region’s numerous buried utilities. They installed steel casing in 400, 500, 600 760 mm (16, 20, 24 and 30-inch) diameters and 1.5 m (5-foot) segments. The last installation with this GBM system was complete in mid-April.

Calgary crews have also been installing ten, 91 m (300-foot) average guided auger boring crossing at depths up to 15 m (50-feet) with their GBM 240A system on the same project. Two of these crossings remain, and the final is anticipated for completion in July 2016.

The EAD project is a revitalization effort encompassing 35 acres in downtown Edmonton for an arena, office towers, a luxury hotel, casino, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The district will be under construction until 2019. Borger Group of Calgary is the project's lead contractor and PCL Construction of Edmonton is construction manager. Calgary Tunnelling & Horizontal Augering Ltd. is the project's sole trenchless contractor.


During the NASTT 2016 No-Dig Show, Akkerman was presented with the Joseph L. Abbott Jr. Innovative Product Award in the new installation category for our AZ100 Total Guidance System (TGS). Each year the award is given to two companies who demonstrate state-of-the-art achievement in advancing the trenchless industry.

The AZ100 Total Guidance System is a tunneling navigation system for long distance and curved tunnels. It is comprised of individual, self leveling, station units that maintain a surveyed connection throughout the alignment without the need for continuous manual surveying. The AZ100 Total Guidance System is the only navigation system of its kind, and joins an elite few on the market. The AZ100 Total Guidance System was recently used to successfully complete a 1,890-LF (576m) 72-in. (DN1800) ID microtunnel under the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario on December 3, 2015 and is currently being used on a 1,500-LF (457m) 60-in. (DN1500) Flowtite FRP sewer alignment on the Paradise Whitney Interceptor in Las Vegas, NV.


Be on the lookout in the next few weeks for the reveal of a new and exciting feature on akkerman.com! Customers will soon be able to view our available finished goods inventory on our fully responsive website. Each listing contains several photos and important information about the equipment's availability, serial number, package offerings and much more. Better yet, select equipment will be marked for special pricing! It will be easier than ever to inquire about specific inventory since your inquiry form will be emailed directly to the sales team member in your region. Watch your inbox and our social media outlets for the official release in early June!


In the past few years, we have made a concerted effort to streamline our parts volume so it is specific to current equipment offerings and available for quick dispatch. To this end, we have made the decision to no longer inventory Series I Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) gear ring assemblies since production has shifted to the Series II TBM. Series I TBM gear ring assemblies may be ordered at any time, however, customers will need to anticipate up to a 6 week lead time on these orders.

One of the most significant upgrades on the Series II TBM is its improved, high-torque, tri-roller bearing drive system. The oil bath, sealed bearing with a ring and pinion drive makes for much quieter and more efficient operation over the former inner drum, gear ring to sprocket drive system. The Series II TBM also offers approximately 40% more cutting capacity, making the increased thrust and rotational torque more conducive to harder geology.

Akkerman will continue to inventory the common wear and service parts for the Series I TBM including the bolts, spools and lock nuts that are associated with the gear ring assemblies. If you have an immediate need, complete gear ring assemblies for nearly all Series I models are currently available.

Please contact the Aftermarket Support Department for further information on this matter at (800) 533.0386.


We are pleased to once again take part in the Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technology’s (CATT) Trenchless Technology Road Show 2016 this week in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Come see us in booth #102 and check out the presentation on the Twinning of Etobicoke Creek Trunk Sanitary Sewer Project at the Pearson B. International Airport which used our new SL86P face access, peripheral drive MTBM and AZ100 TGS navigation system for a 576 m drive last fall.

View our complete tradeshows and events calendar.


We are seeking applicants for two positions in engineering, and qualified mechanics with an interest in field technician responsibilities. More information is available here.

January 2016


Dibco/CRS Joint Venture, comprised of Dibco of Bolton, ON and CRS Tunnelling of Oakville, ON completed a 576m (1,890-lf.), DN1800 (72-in.) RCP tunnel on the Twinning of Etobicoke Creek Trunk Sanitary Sewer project at the Lester B. Pearson International Airport on December 3, 2015. CRS Tunnelling used a new, face access SL86P MTBM which travelled under an active runway and two taxiways. Akkerman’s new AZ100 Total Guidance System provided navigation control for the long-distance microtunnel. Project challenges included significant length, cutterhead tooling wear, geology, water-head, equipment staging, height restrictions and compliance with airport regulations. The engineer, Hatch Mott MacDonald and owners Region of Peel and Greater Toronto Airport Authority were very pleased with the outcome.

On January 5, 2016, contractor Razorback Boring, Inc. embarked on a rock pilot tube bore using the Akkerman Rock Drill Adapter with a Tri-Hawk® I drill bit. The Carrington Mill Boulevard Sewer Extension project in Morrisville, NC required a 130-lf. sewer alignment at a downhill 0.55% grade through Triassic Basin red rock. The pipeline had to emerge at a 12-ft. deep tie-in at an active manhole in the middle of a roadway. The region was laden with several buried utilities and the tie-in had to be absolutely accurate without a reception shaft, making the open-cut unfeasible. The project’s town inspector presented the situation to Razorback’s superintendent Lee Kozikowski, and after speaking with Akkerman for tooling and lubrication recommendations, the contractor accepted the challenge. Not only did they achieve perfect line and grade, they also had excellent production rates—averaging 7-lf. per hour with their best production at 14-lf. per hour for a sustained five-hours! The operators noted that at least 100-lf. of the total 130-lf. was solid rock. The tunnel will be completed with 16-in. steel casing with an 8-in. carrier in the next few days.

In late October through mid-November 2015, John Fithian Contracting Co. of Youngstown, OH completed five, 24-in. steel casing gravity sewer alignments on the Highland Gravity Sanitary Sewer Project for Cecil County, MD. Fithian used their GBM 240A system for guided auger boring on three reaches which crossed under a stream, railroad tracks and an environmentally sensitive area on the Dupont Research Center property. The 75-lf., 298-lf., and 140-lf. bores required a critical 0.4% grade to ensure the accurate positioning of the casing spacers for the 12-in. DIP carrier. The sandy clay in the project region was ideal for the pilot tube’s navigation and the crew successfully achieved the grade with ease. The project’s prime contractor was Eastern States Construction Service of Wilmington, DE.

In early August 2015, Kruckenberg Service Company of Stafford, VA installed a 412-lf. run of 18-in. steel casing with a 14-in. HDPE DIP carrier on the Thornton Rolling Road Sewer Extension project in Spotsylvania, VA. The essential 0.5% grade was successfully achieved with a GBM 240A system providing guidance for their auger bore rig despite wetlands and running sand. Pictured from left to right are: Bryan Greer, Rodrigo Gonzalez, David Kruckenberg (President), Luis Guzman, and Chris Torres.

From January and through the end of April 2015, Claude H. Nix Construction Co. of South Weber, UT was working on the Traverse Mountain Boulevard and Parkway Road Design project in Lehi City, UT. Of special interest on this project was an 80-lf. storm drain outfall, comprised of 42-in. steel casing that precisely tied-into a 48-in., 8-ft. length RCP stub coming out of a 96-in. manhole. The pilot tube steering head shown in the photo emerged through a temporary brick bulkhead in the manhole. They used a GBM 240A system to perform guided auger boring and achieve the 2.02% slope. Pilot tubes sections were removed from within the manhole as the 42-in. casing was jacked into place. The storm drain was completed by inserting a 36-in. PVC carrier inside the casing. This alignment was installed at 22-ft. depths on the north side of State Road 92. The top of the 42-in. casing passed under a 66-in diameter water transmission line with a mere 15-in. of clearance.


Akkerman Guided Boring Systems have been used to assist contractors with accurate and extended drives for nearly 15 years. Along the way, Akkerman has developed a series of tooling for a range of geology and upsizing processes to help facilitate longer runs and increase production rates. The variety of GBM project applications seemed limitless, however, when faced with non-displaceable/rock conditions; guided auger boring was unfeasible—until now.

The Akkerman Rock Drill Adapter's inaugural rock pilot tube bore took place in September 2015 in Darwin, Australia. Contractor, Queensland Infrastructure Services (QIS) used the tooling for an 83-lf. (25m) drive, then four subsequent runs on the same project. The adapter was paired with a TriHawk I® drill bit from Hammerhead®.

A few weeks ago, the adapter and the TriHawk I® drill bit was used on its first U.S. project in Harleysville, PA. The 225-lf. rock pilot tube bore passed under the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and was installed in shale by contractor H.B.C. LLP of Oley, PA.

Just last week, the third project using the pilot tube adapter to Tri-Hawk I® rock drill bit was completed. Razorback Boring of Durham, NC installed a 130-lf. rock bore on perfect line and grade through Triassic Basin red rock with their best production at 14-lf. per hour for a sustained five-hour period.

Stay tuned for additional project updates on this exciting new GBM tooling option in 2016!


Akkerman introduces our peripheral drive, face access family of microtunnel boring machines (MTBMs) to precisely complete extended and curved* tunnels with exceptional drive and cutting torque in virtually any ground condition. This new generation of peripheral MTBMs enables face access to replace cutterhead tooling to tackle the complex alignments that our industry demands.

The peripheral drive MTBM family, comprised of the SL72P, SL86P, SL100P, and SL114P MTBMs, feature on-board electric over hydraulic power pack for cutterhead drive with low, medium, and high torque modes for accurate control in changeable geology. High pressure jetting nozzles, an articulated steering joint, three-point steering control and hydraulically articulated dirt wings capabilities present enhanced operation control.

Contact a sales engineer for more information.

*Curved alignments are achieved with the use of the AZ100 Total Guidance System.


We’re giving a presentation at the CATT’s How to Design and Construct Successful Microtunneling Projects workshop in Mississauga, ON, Canada on February 2, 2016.

Our first tradeshow in 2016 is the Underground Construction Technology (UCT) International Conference & Exhibition on February 3-4, 2016 in Downtown Atlanta, GA. Come see us in booth #113.

Now in its 23rd year, the Microtunneling Short Course and Pilot Tube Seminar will be held at the University of Colorado at Boulder on February 8-11, 2016. Akkerman is once again the Main Event Sponsor and program contributor. This year we have the pleasure of recognizing Troy Stokes as he accepts a Microtunneling Achievement Award at the banquet. For the third year in a row, we will host our popular hospitality reception at the Boulder Marriott.

View our complete trade shows and events calendar.


We are seeking applicants for two positions in engineering, and qualified mechanics with an interest in field technician responsibilities. More information is available here.