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Rapid replacement of Johannesburg’s sewerage pipelines

A small piece of equipment is making a big difference in the City of Johannesburg’s bid to replace aging sewerage infrastructure with its ability to work faster than a large team of men working in its place.
Drill Power Tech Engineering recently put its newly-acquired HammerHead Portaburst PB30 into service throughout the suburbs of Weltevreden Park and Roodekrans where it is able to burst and replace aging cementitious and clay sewerage pipelines with long-lasting HDPE pipes in a fraction of the time it usually takes.
Purchased from leading trenchless equipment supplier, ELB Equipment, the sole supplier of Hammerhead equipment in South Africa, the small and simple to operate pipe bursting machine has even surprised veteran pipe replacement specialist, Fernando Barbosa, the owner of Drill Power Tech Engineering, who is impressed with the machine’s speed.
Long distances
“So far the longest run that we have done is 120m of standard 160mm piping which we completed in just two hours. In just over three months since entering the operation our HammerHead Portaburst PB30 has racked up an incredible 2km of pipe replacements in all sorts of terrain.
“What makes it even more useful is the fact that it is lightweight with a small, narrow footprint about a metre long and roughly the same height which means it requires much smaller entry and exit pits. This makes it ideal to use in confined areas or mid-block between two properties (usually in the backyards).
“Even in the tightest of situations the HammerHead Portaburst PB30 proves its worth as it can be disassembled and rebuilt in tight confines, especially complexes and dense urban areas. Its small entry and exit pits also minimises disruption and due to its fast operation it considerably shortens downtime of the sewers.
Portable solution
The HammerHead PortaBurst PB30 is a portable lateral pipe bursting system with a massive 30-tons of pulling force. This enables it to be transported to areas where it can be assembled in tight confines and used to burst and pull pipes of up to 355mm over long lengths as required. Its modular four component design, with each component weighing less than 32kg, even allows it to be passed over walls or into hard-to-reach spaces where it can be quickly reassembled in the pit if necessary.
Once set up the operators can quickly push the main cable through the existing pipeline, attach the burst head with new HDPE pipe attached and thread it to the machines powerful jaws to begin bursting. The Quick Grip burst heads use snap-fit fixtures and don’t require any hand tools. Its rugged design also gives it the unique ability to negotiate bends of up to 45 degrees.
The HammerHead PortaBurst PB30 systems operates at low hydraulic pressures which allows contractors to use a small powerpack setup. It can also be run from a backhoe or compact excavator or any other hydraulic supply capable of 3,000psi with a flow of at least 60Lpm. Another impressive feature of the unit is its constant tension which gives a firm grip on the cable and allows it to pull at nearly 2m per minute.
World-class contractor
ELB Equipment product manager, Phillip McCallum, says the HammerHead PortaBurst PB30 is the ideal system for replacing pipes in South Africa’s suburbs and townships due to its compact size, simplicity and power. It does not require expensive supporting infrastructure and can effectively be operated by a small team operating out of the back of a bakkie.
The small pit that it requires can be quickly and easily dug by hand which makes it a labour-friendly solution either for emerging contractors or an additional solution for established professionals such as Drill Power Tech Engineering. With an affordable price tag, and a massive, and growing amount of work required in almost all cities and towns throughout the country, sales of the equipment are expected to climb rapidly in months to come.
“In a short space of time since purchasing the machine from us, Fernando and his team are rewriting the record books and operating the machine as quickly and efficiently as anyone worldwide. This is testament to the supreme skill and professionalism of a company that has been successfully operating in the area for three decades,” says Phillip.
Support team
Fernando also has high praise for the team at ELB Equipment who “have been exceptional” and willing to support his efforts to bring new services to the City of Johannesburg.
“In this type of work, we cannot let downtime inconvenience residents and we therefore require ultimate reliability from our equipment and from our suppliers,” he concludes.
ELB Equipment, Phillip McCallum, Tel: (011) 306 0700, Email:, Web:

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