What is Underground Construction?
Underground Construction dates back to the earliest parts of civilization. Whenever tunnels, mining and trenching are being referenced in history books – referencing the beginning of what is considered by today’s standard, underground construction. Underground Construction evolved immensely when mining for rare earth metals, coal, and other iron ore type materials became a must-have commodity to supply our growing population. Giving way to the birth of Underground Mining – because of the explosion in the mining industry the need for developing safer, more efficient techniques to safely work underground was needed. More or less, Underground Construction was developed out of necessity for creating a safe work environment for those working underground and structures being built underground.
Underground Construction has since evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry. Playing a vital role in mass transportation infrastructure within cities across the globe. Providing integral support and protection of structures against natural disasters. Installation and development of today's vast network of underground utility lines thru the development and use of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD). Additionally, Underground Construction has played a pivotal role in maximizing the efficiency in the Agricultural Industry through agricultural drainage management and has proved to be an emerging technology in supporting water quality with underground systems for wastewater as well as managing agricultural drainage and watersheds.
Examples of Underground Construction
Mining Construction, Tunnel Construction, Building Construction, Agricultural Drainage Construction, and Horizontal Directional Drilling Construction. According to OSHA, anything involving excavating of any kind or construction of a depth, four feet or more is Underground Construction. For example, located in Southeast Minnesota there are several Underground Construction companies. Specializing in various methods and techniques of underground construction, such as Agricultural Drainage and Horizontal Directional Drilling. The most prevalent being the booming growth of the need for horizontal directional drilling. Most communities throughout Minnesota are actively upgrading their respective infrastructure. Because of this recent boom and available funds via referendums and tax levies. There is a unique opportunity for companies that have the equipment necessary and the skills to compete within the Underground Construction business with Horizontal Directional Drilling. As an example. Perhaps, a local community would like to upgrade its aging water main infrastructure with new 12” PVC water mains. This is done with expert care and knowledge of HDD. No longer is trenching or digging necessary. The advantage to HDD is when properly executed an Underground Construction company can come is assess the situation and the needs for the prospective job. Including locate existing underground utilities and insert in one end and horizontally drill to and exit pit thousands of feet away. All the while weaving up down and around existing underground utilities. Once they have bored the hole – and created the path for the new water main. The new 12” PVC water main line is hooked up to the drill at the “exit pit” via a pull-head. It is then safely pulled into place back through the path or to be specific, the bore, that was initially drilled. This underground construction technique allows for a substantial infrastructure upgrade while being minimally evasive in the procedure.
Another example of a niche underground construction application that is pertinent to Southeast Minnesota and the upper Midwest area. Agricultural drainage, drain tile installation. A quick example of a drain tile manufacture, Prinsco is a leader in the development of water management solutions offering premium quality flexible pipe or as it is commonly known, drain tile. An underground construction company that specializes in agricultural drainage can assess the work to be done and the required – although sometimes desired drain coefficient needed for a particular Drain Tile job. Through the use of heavy equipment such as a Drain Tile Plow made by Bron. The plow installs pattern drain tile across a vast amount of agricultural land while being minimally evasive. The tile is installed via the plow and the desired depth for the length of each lateral line being installed. Meaning, there is no need to manually excavate the entire length of a particular lateral drain line or main drain line being installed. Ultimately, saving time and money for landowners.
Bottom Line for Underground Construction
As technology continues to grow the underground construction industry will continue to evolve. Technological advances will continue to pave the way for newer, faster, safer and more efficient techniques of the underground construction community as a whole. The construction industry as a whole has more than 650,000 employers with over 6 million employees within the United States. Deducing that the niche within the Construction Industry, Underground Construction still has plenty of room to grow. It is further stated, in a News Release 2018, Construction spending, Construction economics report . ABC Chief Economic Anirban Basu said, “With backlog still elevated, nonresidential construction spending will enter 2019 with plentiful momentum.”
It will be interesting to watch for the potential increased growth of underground construction companies. As well as an increased application of underground construction techniques throughout the entire construction sector. One thing that remains a constant when it comes to underground construction – call before you dig!