The UKSTT is an active, thriving Society, and the driving force behind this is the 20 dedicated volunteers who make up the Council. Over the past few months, we have been taking a look at the faces behind the Society and how they got involved in Trenchless Technology and the UKSTT. This month we catch up with Tom Sangster, Chair Technical & Education sub-committee.
Tom Sangster, Chair Technical & Education sub-committee
Q: What is your background and what brought you into the trenchless industry?
A: I am a Chartered Civil Engineer and have worked for 40 years in various branches of civil and geotechnical engineering. After my early career with consultants and contractors in the civil and geotechnical fields as well as a spell with a geosynthetics manufacturer I started working with Jason Consultants in the early 1990s. At that time Jason had offices in Europe and the USA and was more
or less the only engineering consultancy specialising in trenchless technology. I quickly gained lots of experience on projects all over the world from large box jacking through microtunnelling and HDD to rehabilitation of all kinds of pipelines. Later I established Downley Consultants Ltd as a specialist consultancy in trenchless technology and geosynthetics engineering worldwide, and I continue to lead this business.
Q: How/why did you get involved in UKSTT?
A: In 2015 after many years living abroad I returned to the UK and joined UKSTT. I already had some experience in a similar Society, having been President of the Swiss STT for a period in the early 2000s. I joined the Council soon afterwards and am now Chair of the Technical & Education Sub-Committee.
Q: What goals do you want to achieve as a UKSTT Council Member?
A: I want to see trenchless technology move from the fringes, where it is seen as an alternative to traditional methods, into the mainstream and seen as the default method
for underground network installation and rehabilitation. Several major UK utilities are moving in this direction but there remains a lot to do. Communication, information and education are important priorities.
Q: What do you see as being your own greatest personal achievement in the trenchless industry?
A: There are several projects in which, working always in a team with some very talented people, I have been able to solve really challenging problems using trenchless methods, often with real cost savings to clients as well. But the real lasting achievement is training and education; courses, seminars and workshops in many countries to introduce trenchless technology to engineers and utilities and by informing them removing the mystique that surrounds the whole field and the uncertainty that this causes. But it is not finished, it is an unending task which I continue to enjoy greatly.
Q: What do you currently see as the industry’s most urgent challenges?
A: Inertia at utilities. They face great challenges in managing ageing assets to maintain performance levels but are wedded to traditional methods and are slow to change. There are honourable exceptions but our challenge is to make the laggards the exceptions. This will require education, managing expectations and demonstrating clearly the benefits in
terms of reduced disruption to all stakeholders, reduced direct and indirect cost and, above all, massively reduced environmental impact. We know that trenchless technologies have much smaller carbon footprints than traditional open cut methods, and also use fewer resources so are significantly more sustainable.
Q: Where would you like to see UKSTT in 5 years?
A: UKSTT is uniquely positioned to achieve real change in
the industry. I would like to see it as the prime source of information and knowledge on underground utility installation and rehabilitation for the UK’s network asset managers
and their supply chains. I would also like to see the Society highlighting to those organisations how using trenchless technologies supports their own strategies relating to environment, carbon, climate change and sustainability cost-effectively.
The UKSTT website has a dedicated link for visitors to raise any technical enquiries they may have concerning trenchless technology and whether it may be applicable to any specific project: www.ukstt.org.uk/technical-enquiry/
There have been had some interesting enquiries recently ranging from invitations to tender in various locations of the UK and Europe while others received are looking for advice and proposed solutions for projects currently on-going. All of these enquiries are circulated to Corporate Members and if more detailed advice is required UKSTT has a dedicated team who will advise separately. All technical enquiries are stored on the members only area of the UKSTT website.
For all your trenchless solutions and latest news visit the UKSTT website www.ukstt.org.uk/