In good company:
Interview with Jari Kaukonen, ISTT Chairman


Sustainability, smart cities, climate control – the demand for gentle methods to build modern infrastructures is greater today than ever before. We spoke to a proven expert and connoisseur of the industry about the global potential for trenchless technology.

Jari Kaukonen is the acting chairman of the International Society for Trenchless Technology ISTT and head of the Finnish society FISTT, which is hosting the Int NODIG in Helsinki this year.

Mr. Kaukonen, we like to say that there is no task in pipeline construction today that cannot be done without trenches. Do you agree with that? Is the NODIG technology really that far?
Yes, I totally agree. I started in the trenchless business in 1982 and after that I have seen the development in the field. Back in those days the discussion was about the capacity when rehabilitating the old mains. Quite soon the manufacturers introduced methods where there was a possibility to even enlarge the diameter of the existing pipe. At that time other methods came to the market too, in order to keep the diameter almost the same as the old one. In Finland we have a very hard rock which was a good reason to say no to the no dig methods when planning a new installation. Now we also have very good tools for the hard rock. The main thing for the pipe and gable owners is to hire a qualified designer to plan the execution of the work.

The state of the art is one thing, the actual need is another. In which areas do you see the greatest need? Fibre optic expansion as the backbone of digitisation, for example, is obvious. Where do you see similarly great potential?
Yes, fibre optic expansion has been one main driver for the huge growth of the HDD. Someone once said that we can use the mobile system instead of fibre optic to every house. I think it is vice versa. When we will build the 5G system then the fibre optic network needs to be expanded and that means more HDD work for the contractors.

Jari Kaukonen, Chairman of the International Society for Trenchless Technology ISTT and Head of the Finnish company FISTT

IIn the future the need for good drinking water will grow globally. We will have more areas with poor water quality. That means more and longer distribution watermains and I hope the use of trenchless is widely used when contracting the mains. The building of wind power is one issue where there is a need of contacting those to the network. In many cases those are far from urban areas and that is why there is a possibility to use trenchless in many cases in order not to spoil the nature where cables need installing. When reducing the use of the fossil energy we need to build new gas mains as well. What will that mean when the Nordstream2 gas main is ready to use? Will that be in use or what will happen because of the situation in the Ukraine. Will that mean that we have to ensure the energy distribution with more different possibilities? That could also mean new possibilities.

What about less developed regions and countries in the world? Can't NODIG even be a key to better living conditions here?Just think of the water supply. Absolutely as I described above regarding the distribution to the areas where the bad waterquality is the problem. But we also have many places on the globe where there are insufficient sewer systems. In many areas there is a sewer tank without a bottom and the well where the people
take the drinking water sitting next to each other. Many houses are close and without a deeper foundation. If we use the trenchless method the owners of the houses can use the houses without any investments to the foundation and not have any big issues to their daily life. That way we can avoid many destroying environmental aspects. There are many excellent calculations made by GSTT about the environmental costs comparing the trenchless to open cut.​​​​​​​

Do you think that trenchless construction will one day be the rule and no longer the exception in pipeline construction? If so, what are the arguments in its favour?Yes, that is the way we have to go. The Finnish road administration company called Väylä have already decided to use the trenchless method when constructing pipes and gables under the road. I am waiting for more and more infrastructure owners to follow Väylä when giving licences to build new pipes and gables to the areas that they own. Many authorities do not know about the possibilities we have to use trenchless, and I see that as the main reason when not insisting that the use of trenchless is the only acceptable method when installing pipes and gables.

How do the trenchless societies contribute to making trenchless technology more accepted and better known to clients and the general public?
As I said before there is a lack of knowledge about the trenchless possibilities with the authorities, but also with the infrastructure owners and general designers. There is a huge role of the national societies, which are our affiliated societies, to spread the information and push their members and others to local and international conferences and exhibitions where there is an excellent possibility to learn more about the use of trenchless methods. The affiliated societies have to have good relations to the ministries and authorities in order to share the possibilities of the use of trenchless.
The methods for spreading the good news of trenchless are arranging conferences, exhibitions, and courses about the best practices etc. Areas where we do not have any affiliated society and people who show more interest about trenchless can gather together and contact us for more help with establishing an affiliated society.​​​​​​​

Mr. Kaukonen. Thank you very much for the interview, we wish you a successful NODIG in Helsinki!
Thanks for the wishes. I am sure we will have an excellent trenchless week in Helsinki from the 30th September to the 6th October. You are all welcome to come and feel the spirit of our show! Call for the abstracts is already open.
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