Iowa Patent of the Month – September 2023

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is a construction technique whereby a tunnel is drilled under a waterway or other designated area, and a pipeline or other utility is pulled through the drilled underground tunnel. The drill head is often tracked either by wireless, radiofrequency technology or wireline tools but each method has their limitations. Underground Magnetics, Inc is addressing these limitations with an improved wireless telemetry system.

Walk-over locators provided reliable communication when in proximity to the transmitter, but posed challenges when dealing with obstacles like river crossings or highways. On the other hand, wireline transmission, while effective, was labor-intensive and susceptible to connection failures, making it less than ideal.

The wireless data telemetry system developed by Underground Magnetics uses a special drill head wireless transmitter, which is seamlessly integrated into the drill head itself. This transmitter generates data signals based on the drill head’s operation, revolutionizing the way data is transmitted during drilling operations.

What sets this wireless telemetry system apart is the inclusion of data link transceivers strategically positioned along the drill string. These transceivers are not only wirelessly coupled to the drill head transmitter but also communicate with each other. They are placed at intervals along the drill string, bridging the gap between the drill head and the ground surface.

Imagine a scenario where the drill head wireless transmitter is buried deep underground, and the walk-over locator is unable to receive the signals directly. Underground Magnetics’ system ensures that the data signals are wirelessly transmitted not just to the ground surface but also along the length of the drill string. This effectively extends the transmission range and brings the data within the range of the walk-over locator or the drill display, regardless of the drilling depth.

The system’s use of short-range wireless communication technology enhances its reliability and efficiency. It also eliminates the need for cumbersome wireline connections, saving valuable time during drilling operations.

The innovative wireless telemetry system isn’t limited to just HDD; it’s adaptable for use in various drilling systems, including deep drilling rigs, and structural piling drilling rigs. Its retrofit capability means that existing drilling rigs can benefit from this advanced technology without the need for a complete overhaul.

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