Doocey mole ploughing machine

In the world of modern excavation for construction, trenchless solutions often have the edge over the traditional spade and JCB digger approach which can take longer, create more disturbance to the local environment and look unsightly throughout the process.

Trenchless solutions use technologies such as micro-trenching, mole-ploughing and directional drilling to achieve the same results (such as the creation of ducts and the laying of cables or pipes) as traditional excavation tech, but without the mess and often at a more cost-effective price.

Where can trenchless technology be deployed?

Due to the variety of technologies readily available in the UK, there is often a trenchless solution suitable for most underground construction projects that can allow project owners to save money, time and reduce their environmental impact.

Which trenchless technology you deploy will ultimately depend on the unique needs of the project and the terrain.

Generally speaking, micro-trenching is often used in urban paved or tarmacked environments, which directional drilling used to avoid potential obstacles.

Mole-ploughing is more commonly used in rural environments, especially for the fast deployment of cables such as in the UK’s rural broadband rollout.

What are the benefits of trenchless solutions vs open-cut excavation?

The true benefits of using trenchless technology will natural differ between projects, and in some small, highly localised and ad hoc cases it may still be cost-effective to use traditional open-cut techniques, however these are few and far between.

As a tier-one trenchless contractor, Doocey NE’s clients have often benefited from the following reductions in comparison to traditional open-cut techniques:

  • Reductions in soil disturbance, particularly at the surface.
  • Minimized environmental impact to the surrounding area and ecosystem
  • Reductions in groundwater contamination
  • Minimized fracturing of rock formations
  • Reduction in costs
  • Reduced impact of weather on trenching progress
  • Reduced disruption to traffic and other human factors

… all while benefiting from positives such as:

  • Use of a single location to install multiple pipes and ducts (directional drilling)
  • Safer operation due to no workers below street level
  • Increasing range of possibility as obstacles such as buildings are more easily avoided

Why were trenchless technologies developed?

Solutions such as these were developed out of both necessity and preference.

When planning large projects such as the creation of fibre-optic cable networks, there are invariably unique challenges, and many of them will centre around the limitations of where trenches can be created, the costs involved, and the effects on the environment (which can sometimes gain the project unwanted attention and even spark protests and challenges).

When deployed by an experienced team, trenchless technologies can help solve many of these issues by avoiding the obstacles create by buildings in urban environments or unviable terrain in rural ones, keeping costs down by using less man-power and a faster process, and keeping disruption to humans and the environment to a minimum.

In many cases, those deploying trenchless tech may be able to avoid all of these issues completely.

What trenchless solutions are available?

While more technologies are always under development and the existing ones being adapted and improved, the majority of industrial level techniques can be split into three main types:

Directional Drilling

Rather than drilling only in a single direction, Directional Drilling allows ducts to be bored in a managed and planned way, perfect for when open-cut trenching is neither possible nor desirable (for instance, if there are buildings in the way).

Using a specialised drilling machine, a pilot borehole is created to the desired depth before horizontal drilling commences.

Mole Ploughing

A mole plough is pulled by a machine, and much like it’s natural namesake travels underground with minimal surface soil disturbance – perfect for laying things like long stretches of fibre-optic cable through rural environments.


As previously mentioned, micro-trenching is quite trenchless in that a trench is opened up to the air, however it is so fine and narrow that disruption is minimal and the whole process very fast.

Using this technique, a bladed saw is used to cut a thin trench in surfaces like tarmac allowing for the insertion of cables or small piping before being backfilled and topped-off.

Which trenchless solution is right for my project?

The answer to this question can benefit from an experienced hand – get in touch with the team at Doocey NE to discuss your project needs, potential solutions and quotes, we’d be more than happy to hear from you.

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