Last month Punxsutawney Phil rose from his burrow and saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter for some of us. Fortunately for most, this ground squirrel is better suited for habitat engineering rather than meteorology, as Punxsutawney Phil has only accurately predicted the onset of construction’s busy season 39% of the time. While professionals in the trenchless industry have been compared to groundhogs for their exceptional adaptation to the underground environment, the trenchless industry does not hibernate during the cold winter months. Trenchless contractors throughout the globe have been active throughout recent months. Here are just a few examples of recently completed projects performed by trenchless contractors using various trenchless methods for both new pipe installation and replacement.
Project Owner: New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT)
Trenchless Contractor: Engineers Construction, Inc. – Williston, VT (ECI-VT)
Project Location: Town of Duane, NY
Trenchless Method: TBM Pipe Jacking – 84-in Hobas FRP, 235-lf
Equipment: Akkerman WM720II TBM, 5000 Series Pump Unit, 524 Haul System
Located in a remote area in upstate New York near the Town of Duane, this trenchless project required a new installation of 84-in culvert that paralleled an existing smaller corrugated metal pipe culvert. The existing culvert had deteriorated over time and was deemed too small for flows exhibited by the Dugway Brook stream.
The ECI-VT team mitigated a variety of challenges during the project’s launch, including sudden weather changes as well as raveling sands with potential obstructions, such as buried tree roots, boulders, and fill material that would have been problematic with other trenchless methods. As the crew launched the TBM and progressed towards the roadway, ground conditions became more stable allowing ECI-VT to complete the 235-lf single pass installation of 84-in Hobas online and grade.
Project Owner: City of Beaumont, TX
Trenchless Contractor: Super Excavators, Inc. (SEI)
Project Location: Beaumont, TX
Trenchless Method: Slurry Microtunneling – 48in RCP, 1,301-ft & 1,215-ft (two drives)
Equipment: Akkerman SL60P MTBM System, MT875K Jacking Frame, AZ-100 Guidance System, Akkerman Lube & Jacking System, Derrick TBSS-225 Separation System
Due to alluvial soils with high groundwater conditions adjacent to the Neches River, the City of Beaumont, TX required a new 2516-lf tunnel installed by slurry microtunneling to convey water to a new raw water pumping station. Requiring two drives of 1,310-ft and 1,215-ft, SEI constructed three secant pile shafts along the alignment at depths ranging from 33-58-ft deep. Even though intermediate jacking stations were installed within the pipe string, the IJS stations were not used as the thrust required to complete the drives were less than 200-tons due to SEI’s preparedness.
Mr. Mike Garbeth of Super Excavators, Inc., and Troy Stokes of Akkerman Inc. will be giving a technical presentation on this project, as well as a couple other recently completed projects during the upcoming Microtunneling Shortcourse in Scottsdale, AZ on April 11-13, 2023.
Project Owner: Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority
Trenchless Contractor: RMCI, Inc. – Albuquerque, NM
Project Location: Kirtland AFB – Albuquerque, NM
Trenchless Method: Rehabilitation – Sliplining, 48-in & 66-in Flowtite
Equipment: Akkerman SLS-100 Sliplining System
RMCI, Inc. recently completed the first of three sliplining projects with an Akkerman SLS-100 system at Kirtland AFB located in Albuquerque, NM. The initial project required the installation of 66-in Flowtite pipe inside of a deteriorating 72-in RCP trunk sewer while maintaining live flow conditions. Once the equipment was set up and staged, crews pulled back a pipe proofer along the alignment prior to inserting new Flowtite carrier pipe. Due to the amount of sediment captured by the proofer, RMCI crews determined that the host pipe required an additional round of jetting prior to sliplining operations. Once jetted and cleaned, crews began the sliplining process with the Akkerman SLS-100 system achieving 20-ft pipe installations every 5-6 minutes. RMCI, Inc. was able to complete the first 544-lf installation in one shift.
The next phase of the project will include the installation of up to 1400-lf of 66-in Flowtite inside an existing 72-in RCP, as well as 950-lf of 48-in Flowtite inside an existing 54-in RCP sewer by sliplining while the existing sewer is still under live flow conditions.
Akkerman’s Chris Sivesind will be discussing sliplining methods and techniques at the upcoming CUIIC Pipeline Rehabilitation Academy seminar on March 21-22, 2023, in Mississauga, ON. For additional information on this seminar, please visit the CUIIC website at Pipeline Rehabilitation – CUIIC Academy.
Trenchless Contractor: Derech Afar LTD
Project Location: Israel
Trenchless Method: Pilot Tube Microtunneling – Guided Boring, 192ft – 2m Long GRP Pipe (24in)
Equipment: Akkerman 339A GBM System, P100E, 1525 B/E Lube System, PCH22.5 with Increase Kit
Pilot tube microtunneling projects continue for accurate, small diameter installations in several regions across the globe. Derech Afar LTD, located in Kfar Saba, Israel, recently completed the first of 11 drives with their Akkerman 339A GBM system. Using the three-step method with a Powered Cutting Head (PCH) to increase the borehole diameter to match the diameter of the product pipe during the final step, the 24-in OD GRP was directly installed across the alignment.
At a depth ranging from 20 to 30-ft below grade, the alignment proved to be primarily clay. Derech Afar utilized an Akkerman 1525B/E lubrication system to pump a mixture of Baroid Tunnel-Gel Plus with EZ-Mud Gold, which helped them maintain thrust pressures under 25-tons and rotational torque under 1200 ft-lbs. while installing pilot tubes. Derech Afar continued their lubrication program throughout the process and included the use of high-pressure jetting nozzles on the Akkerman PCH to assist with the clays.
Initially designed as a Guided Auger Boring project to install 30-in steel casing with their Akkerman 240A GBM, Minger quickly took note of the large boulders along the profile. To accommodate the geology, they successfully changed methods and used their Akkerman WM420-I TBM to install 42-in RCP to allow better access to the face while maintaining line and grade.
Todd Otterbein came to Akkerman on March 5, 2018 as a nightshift machinist and is celebrating his five-year AKKiversary.
Before Akkerman, Todd already had a 30-year-long career of machining experience. He was formally trained in tool and die and CNC technology through vocational technical training at Riverland Community College.
Todd knew about Akkerman, having been friends and classmates with Wayne and Barb Akkerman. Now that he works here he comments, “I find it amazing that the high-tech equipment we produce is made in the small community of Brownsdale.”
Todd appreciates the variety, and uniqueness of part types and size ranges of his machining responsibilities at Akkerman, which are very different than in his past experiences. At first, he was the night-shift operator of the Mazak 450-II MY and now of the Mazak VCN-700D, which handles the parts that were previously made on the Kitamura that we just sold this Fall.
Todd’s free time interests are incredibly eclectic. His cats Oscar and Boris peacefully coexist with Boo the parrot. Boo is the last remaining survivor of a 15-year hobby of breeding parrots, a business he shared with his mother. He also has a house full of exotic orchids and succulents, an appreciation that was passed on to him by his grandmother. Not too long ago he found a patch of orchids in the woods to the north of the parking lot, a variety that originates from the eastern hemisphere (see the photo to the right). Todd also enjoys working on cars and spending time with friends.
Jake Howton came to Akkerman on March 19, 2018, as a mechanic. Today he’s a Senior Mechanic, primary MTBM Field Technician, and celebrating five years at Akkerman, although he’s been around Akkerman all his life.
Jake formally trained as a heavy equipment operator in the Navy Seabees. He enlisted in May 2013 and served five years on active duty and three years as inactive reserves. His military career in the Seabees, the Naval Construction Force that provides heavy civil construction services, prepared him for his career at Akkerman. He received specific training in heavy haul trucks, electronic grading systems, and heavy equipment recovery.
Initially, Jake began as a GBM mechanic and, as he became acclimated, moved to MTBM mechanics while training as a field technician. He had a great mentor and is proud to follow in his father’s footsteps. Some of the best memories he has had during his employment at Akkerman are of tackling projects with Jay.
Jake enjoyed the challenges of his position. “I like being entrusted to help our customers and seeing different parts of the country while doing it.” Jake has been our field technician on several long-term microtunneling projects, including the former Lametti & Sons microtunnel in Rochester, Huxted Tunneling’s project in South Carolina, the ECI project in Minneapolis, and most recently, Melcar Underground’s project in Houston. He finds specific gratification in troubleshooting the electronics of our MTBM systems.
Jake resides in Lyle with his dogs. In his free time, he likes hunting waterfowl and pheasants. He also enjoys fishing and camping.
Jason Augustin, “Augie,” came to Akkerman as a welder on March 24, 2008.
He started his career as a welding subcontractor. He and his family moved to Hollandale, where he accepted a manufacturing and sales position with Edwards Iron Works for eight years, then after an ownership change, a few years with Pro Manufacturing.
Growing up in Brownsdale, he knew about Akkerman and some of its people. Doug Luinstra tried to recruit him two times before he said yes to a welding position.
Jason has proven to be a very versatile hire. He says, “The only production position I haven’t done is paint.” His initial stint in welding lasted five years. He also helped in initial processing and TBM assembly for several years before settling into his current role as a manual machinist and company safety manager. “What I like best about Akkerman is that they allow me to do many different jobs without question – they know I can be trusted to handle it – and because of these opportunities, I’ve learned a lot.”.
He truly walks the talk regarding teamwork, believing that “All of our builds are everyone’s responsibility, and it’s rewarding to be able to help out however I can to make them the best they can be.”
Jason’s jovial nature extends to a deep passion for safety. His personal safety goals are zero yearly accidents, all three ratings on our Form 33, and a backlog of employees wanting to be on the safety committee. He also enjoys being the first to know our new production hires through their safety orientations.
Jason, his wife, and three daughters reside in Hayfield. The family likes to go to the north shore, anywhere between Grand Portage and Gooseberry Falls, and hopes to hike every falls in between. He also enjoys ice fishing, despite never catching anything. His well-known DJ side gig, including seven Akkerman employee weddings, keeps him busy during the wedding season.
Mark Heimer came to Akkerman on March 15, 2003, referred by his sister and brother-inlaw, Jared, to an open position in the TBM and MTBM mechanics area.
Mark worked four years on conventional and microtunneling equipment before moving to electrical assembly. After Daryl moved to aftermarket support in 2007, Mark was promoted to parts department manager. Mechanical aptitude and experience with a variety of parts and components in his previous roles prepared him for success in his current role.
Everyone knows that Mark’s gruff exterior is a guise – he has always been a team player and is eager to help, often applying humor. Like when a certain logistics person returned to work to find packing peanuts in every available empty cavity in their office. The retaliation of the prank was tinsel in his vehicle’s dash. Every now and then, it feels like Christmas when a bit of silver floats out. Mark has also been known to keep a stash of tissues and ring pops to dole out, depending on the occasion.
After 20 years, Mark has built a meaningful career at Akkerman and is viewed as a wealth of information. Mark appreciates Akkerman’s family atmosphere and his coworkers. He jokingly asserts, “If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here.”
Mark enjoys riding Harley, car restoration, spending time with family and friends, and cookouts in his free time. The restoration of his 1970 Plymouth hot rod, the vehicle that made it through “a tour in the Army, a divorce, and four kids,” is of particular gratification, which he calls his retirement vehicle.