Trenchless Technology Education Is An Ongoing Effort

As much as the use of trenchless methods has grown over the years, contractors still have a significant teaching role to play for those who think of traditional excavation first

Trenchless Technology Education Is An Ongoing Effort

A Murphy Pipeline crew on a job.

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World Trenchless Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the education efforts should stop. As far as trenchless technologies have come over the years to become routinely used methods for rehabbing and replacing underground infrastructure, there are still many people who automatically think only of opencut methods.

“It’s the first step we need to do before we can actually work, because human nature is what it is. People do things they’re comfortable with,” says Todd Grafenauer of the important role up-front education has played in growing the trenchless service offerings of his company, Murphy Pipeline. “Why are there communities that only do opencut? Because that’s the way they’ve always done it.”

Murphy Pipeline in Jacksonville, Florida, was started in 1999 by Andy Mayer, who was well familiar with trenchless methods from his many years working for British Gas in the U.K. where trenchless technology had been commonplace for decades. Grafenauer was introduced to Mayer during one of the company’s first major projects, and when he joined the company, education immediately became one of his top responsibilities.

“That’s primarily what my involvement has been since day one,” says Grafenauer.   

Grafenauer may travel to a potential customer’s location to do a technical presentation about the trenchless methods. He’ll cover the history of the technology, show videos of work occurring at job sites, highlight actual case studies, explain the technology’s value from a construction and design standpoint, and spend time afterward answering questions. But Grafenauer says one of Murphy Pipeline’s most effective education tactics is holding “open days” at actual job sites and sending out invitations so potential customers can come see the technology firsthand.

“There’s tremendous value in that because not only do they see the method work, but they can also look at the areas where work has already been completed and see the kind of environment we left behind,” Grafenauer says. 

While he can’t put a hard figure on it, Grafenauer says there’s a direct correlation between the amount of work Murphy Pipeline gets in a certain area and the number of open days that have been held there. Still, it’s a single method in what Grafenauer says is a multistep approach to education.

“The open day is an important step, but there’s a lot of work we do beyond that I believe is critical,” he says. “Maybe it’s the initial phone call with a potential client. We also get a ton of emails — just basic questions — and it’s important to get back to those people and spend the time to make sure they have the answers they were looking for.”

The Liner Guys of London, Ontario.
The Liner Guys of London, Ontario.

The Liner Guys in London, Ontario, heavily relies on visuals when teaching customers about its pipe lining services. The company still encounters people who aren’t even aware of the existence of trenchless technology, so having visual aids helps penetrate the dig-it-up mentality they’re stuck in. 

“You can explain it all day long, but when someone sees what a finished pipe looks like, there’s an ‘aha’ moment,” says co-owner Steve Stefanidis.

The company has about a dozen videos showcasing no-dig technology on its website — some that it has produced and others from a vendor it uses, LMK Technologies. Stefanidis says he also shows customers samples of lined pipes, including one where the liner can slide out of the section of pipe to get a better view, and cracked pipes so that customers can see how the resin in the liner fills in the voids.

“Visuals are always key,” Stefanidis says. “It’s the best way to show off your product.”


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