From the Chair September 1998

The Australasian Society for Trenchless Technology hosted the fourth National Trenchless Technology Conference and Exhibition in Brisbane, Queensland from August 2 to August 6 1998. Under the theme of "Dig? No Way!" the event provided the opportunity to assess the current status of the trenchless industry in Australia and New Zealand. The overall success of all aspects of the Conference and Exhibition helped to create a feeling of enthusiasm and optimism for the future of the trenchless industry down under.

An overview profile of the potential for trenchless technology shows there is an enormous investment in infrastructure associated with small diameter cables, conduits and pipelines in Australia and New Zealand. These assets are conservatively estimated to be worth A$200 billion, and include the water, wastewater, power, gas, tele-communications and oil industries.

This asset base, and growth in these assets, currently provides an estimated A$280 million turnover annually in the trenchless industry in Australia and New Zealand. Although this represents a very small proportion of the total annual expenditure on renovation, replacement, and new infrastructure, it is significant in terms of influence and impact, as it represents the many programs and projects realising the ever-growing range of benefits trenchless technology has to offer.

None the less, the industry will continue to grow as the replacement and renovation requirements increase with the aging of this asset base, most of which was installed during the 1950's, 60's and 70's. This growth in the use of trenchless technology will be compounded as awareness, and realisation, of the benefits of the technology progressively reaches more and more client organisations, engineering design consultants and the broader contracting industry.

The official list shows that 400 attended the Brisbane Conference and Exhibition as delegates, speakers, sponsors and participants. A further 49 companies exhibited during the three days of the Conference and some 15 companies participated in the No-Dig Live demonstration on the afternoon of the second day of the Conference.

Sponsors and exhibitors considered the event a commercial success. Everyone enjoyed a lively and innovative social program which provided further numerous opportunities for building and creating new business relationships.

There were a number of innovations at the Conference that were well received. ASTT hosted a breakfast on the Sunday morning before the Conference. Aimed at introducing local engineering consultants to the benefits of trenchless technology, it was well received by the 200 who attended. The three day Conference and Exhibition was followed by a one day workshop on Underground Space conducted in liaison with ASTT by the Australian Underground Construction and Tunnelling Association.

The number of delegates who attended both events shows the great overlap of common interests between the two societies. This mirrored at a national level the new links being forged between the International Society for Trenchless Technology and the International Tunnelling Association.

The strong line-up of 36 overseas and local Speakers provided papers on a broad range of topics, maintaining an attentive and enthusiastic audience until the last presentation. One of the major themes that came through in the papers was the importance of asset management planning in the successful application of trenchless technology. This incorporated such items as risk management, condition surveys, design specifications and environmental considerations. This theme was balanced by a number of papers on the practical application of trenchless technology using different methodologies in a range of different operating environments.

The fourth National ASTT Conference and Exhibition provided an opportunity to assess how trenchless technology has advanced in Australia and New Zealand. The enthusiasm and positive feeling that was generated at this event augurs well for the future of the industry down under.

By Menno Henneveld - Chairman ASTT