Letter on the Brisbane Conference
It would be very difficult to argue the fact that the trenchless technology industry in general, and horizontal directional drilling specifically, experienced somewhat of a slowdown in Australia and New Zealand in 1997. This becomes especially evident from an equipment manufacturer's point of view, because it had a direct impact on the demands for new equipment and the ability to update aging fleets.
However, in the last six to nine months there has been a definite resurgence in the acceptance of and application of trenchless technology methods. New markets are being explored, such as remediation of contaminated ground, replacement and upsizing of existing water and sewer lines, and horizontal directional drilling in more challenging situations and adverse conditions.
Enter ASTT '98. Hailed to be one of the best trenchless technology conferences yet, it certainly lived up to expectations. The variety and diversity of topics brought the message home to many of the delegates and special guests: Trenchless technology can be used for almost every type of underground installation, and it is here to stay.
That said, the battle for overall acceptance of trenchless technology is not yet over. There is no doubt that the ongoing education of those involved in the design and specification of underground installations projects will be instrumental in achieving the goal of minimal disruption in the underground installations industry. The Conference Planning Committee should be applauded for their efforts to incorporate the promotion of trenchless technology through every possible avenue to parties who have not yet adopted these methods.
Overall, the success of an event such as this can be gauged on many different levels: Delegate's participation or attendance, Speaker's quality, and Sponsors contributions. But the true measure of success will be seen over the next couple years as we continue to build off the groundwork that was laid at the ASTT '98.
So the challenge is before us. With the contributions that the Australasian Society for Trenchless Technology is willing to make to the education and awareness of the concepts and acceptance of trenchless methods, we can go nowhere but forward. The Conference set the stage and the pace for the next several years.
Credit is due to Menno Henneveld, Jeff Pace, and the Australasian Society for Trenchless Technology; to Andy Krumins and the Conference Planning Committee; to Nola Miles Clark and the Conference Secretariat; to all the Speakers; and to the Platinum Sponsors, Gold Sponsors, and Silver Sponsors for making the ASTT '98 the best that it could be.
By John Milligan - Vermeer