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Trenchless utility construction equipment specialist TractoTechnik had several novel items on its crowded patch in the open air section.

Two of these were particularly noteworthy. First was a compact city-centre directional drilling rig, the 7X, which mixes drilling mud as and when required. Second was a step by step bore planning and record documentation software package for use at foreman level.

Drilling mud, either bentonite or polymer-based material, is needed for stabilising holes and backreamed enlargements in granular soils and is critically important for work in saturated ground. The conventional approach has been to use a separate mud plant mounted in a container or on a truck.

But these run up against two problems in built-up areas; space to set up the plant, and a means of disposing of the surplus mud. TT appears to have solved these with the 7X which has a compact mud plant built onto the back of the rig.

It takes up minimum space and since mud is only mixed as required for running into the borehole, there is no surplus.

TT's Grundo-bore-planner software is designed to run on any PC with at least Windows 95. It is an eight-step-guide intended to give an optimised drilling path and then furnish a permanent record of the actual surveyed position of the utility line that is being installed.

No computing ability is assumed, the interface simply requires a series of boxes to be filled in, starting with basic information such as the name of the project. The starting and finishing points of the bore can be defined as a digitised map reference or as output from a GPS survey instrument.

The program calculates the optimum path and outputs instructions for the driver to follow.

A prime market for the software is clients who require detailed record of the position of their installations.

Consequently it has been specifically designed to be equally applicable to directional drilling kit manufactured by TT's rivals; Vermeer and Ditch Witch.

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