Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Finnish expertise – meeting industry needs

FiSTT and Its Influence on The Finnish Trenchless Market

The Finnish Society of Trenchless Technology (FiSTT), was founded in 1999 with 22 members. It is now therefore quite an experienced but youthful association which currently boasts some 87 members, placing it in the top 10 of the ISTT’s biggest associations by membership. The FiSTT membership has seen steady growth for the past few years.

As the association’s chairman since the beginning of 2020, Timo Kyntäjä is now in his second year as chairman. Timo’s predecessor Jari Kaukonen is currently chairman of ISTT (the International Society for Trenchless Technology). Timo has been associated with FiSTT’s board for almost all of the past ten years.

FiSTT has greatly developed its operations in recent years. Just a few of the activities that might merit extra attention are members, education activity and industry cooperation development. In addition to which the organisation has also expanded its work in specific topic areas. At the beginning of 2021 FiSTT was involved with specific topics including condition examination, education and for the renovation of pipelines in premises. Its aim is to support the industry to develop and to gather information for the good of the trenchless business. Additionally, the objective for 2021 has been to establish topic areas covering materials and quality examination.

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The Board of FiSTT is also proud that the Society has been trusted with the organisation of 2022 ISTT international conference and is avidly awaiting the visit of members of ISTT, and all of the industry’s operators and those who are interested in the technology to come visit the event in Helsinki. Details of the programme can be found on the website: https://www.nodighelsinki.com/.

Commenting on the place of FiSTT in the Finnish market, Osmo Seppälä, Managing Director of the Finnish Water Utilities Association, said: “FiSTT is the Finnish national focal point for key participants in the No-Dig technology sector and brings together professionals from water and wastewater utilities, contractors and consultants, as well as materials and technology suppliers. This provides utility professionals with an excellent forum for up-to-date information on trenchless technologies and active peer contacts. Based on a recent study on future investment needs in the Finnish water and wastewater utilities, total annual investments need to be doubled over the next 20 years. Water and wastewater network rehabilitation needs are about 60% of these total investment requirements. An additional challenge is that usually rehabilitation of networks is more costly with new construction or reconstruction. With trenchless technologies rehabilitation costs, especially in densely constructed urban environments, can be kept moderated and disturbance to city functions is minimised.

Looking at the trenchless sector in Finland Kia Aksela, Head of Network Department, Helsinki Region Environmental Services (HSY) said: “In Finland, the attitude towards trenchless methods is positive and open. Water utilities see trenchless as a real option for traditional open excavation. In the era of resource wisdom and striving for carbon neutrality trenchless methods offer an attractive alternative to the traditional way of implementation. Especially, because at the same time, people living in or passing through the area demand increasingly less disruptive ways to implement the construction. “

She continued: “The trenchless market is developing in two ways. There is a clear need for new methods alongside long-established methods. On the other hand, requirements for sustainable quality throughout the life cycle of the outcome are commonplace, the quality achieved must be at the same level, or higher, as compared to the quality achieved using open excavation. In Finland methods that have been on the market for water supply networks for a long time include Sliplining, Pipe Bursting and Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) as well as Hammer Drilling. In sewer networks commonly used methods include Sliplining with discrete pipes, Cured-In-Place-Pipe and Close-fit pipe. Less commonly used methods include Guided Auger Boring as well as Microtunnelling and Pipe jacking. According to a market survey in 2020, which was inspired by the FiSTT, no independent contractors were found in Finland for microtunnelling or pipe jacking. Based on the market survey, it was positive that Finnish companies saw the technologies as interesting and that cooperation with European players was possible and even desirable. On the other hand, several European companies presented themselves as being ready to enter the Finnish market. For some companies, quality assurance was at the heart of their operations. They presented credible options for achieving high quality for example for tightness and self-cleaning of sewers, by ensuring a constant slope without depressions as well as in precise drilling location accuracy. It would be great to have the method range expanded in Finland in order to be able to choose the best possible technology for each circumstance.

How Contractors see the Role of FiSTT

Looking at the role of FiSTT in the Finnish trenchless sector from the contractor viewpoint, Paavo Syrjö, MD of the Finnish Infrastructure Association said: “FiSTT has a key role using its own expertise in Finland. It is the only organisation that gathers all stakeholders with trenchless technology interests around the same table. Membership of FiSTT is a gateway to knowledge. For a single contractor, FiSTT membership means that they can learn not only of the technologies themselves but from real-life cases from other members such as contractors, designers, suppliers, and customers as well. By sharing experiences and thoughts with other members become better industry players and at the same time help the whole sector develop and become better. For a single contractor, a place at the same table with all the other stakeholders within the trenchless area is also an opportunity to share references with future customers and market a company’s knowledge for them. To keep it short, FiSTT membership means more turnover and more profit in the long run.”

Meeting Industry Needs

Jukka Huusko, MD of Johan Lundberg Oy (and currently also Executive Director of FiSTT and who has been heavily involved in organising the National Conferences observed: “FiSTT has arranged a National Conference four times since 2013, with a fifth coming in November 2021. The venue has provided an excellent discussion forum for professionals around trenchless technologies. FiSTT also has active working committees where cooperation between different companies and professionals has brought trenchless to the forefront of thinking and encouraged all parties to take part in spreading the No-Dig message. For the future, the Society has a main target of increasing membership to 100 and to arrange the best ever No-Dig show in Europe in 2022.”

Finnish Expertise

Finland has become a centre for some specific technologies with the trenchless sector with its influence in these areas becoming internationally well-known. For example said Kimmo Juvani, CEO of Geonex Oy: “In the mainstream of the general No-Dig market development, Finnish innovation and comprehensive know-how in Horizontal Hammer Boring or Horizontal Hammer Drilling as it is sometimes known is at the top level. The history of the technology dates back to the early 1990s, and today Finland’s expertise in the Horizontal Hammer Boring market is recognized and valued internationally. The activities of FiSTT and its stakeholders have significantly contributed to the appropriate use and application of the method. FiSTT has also recognised the Horizontal Hammer Boring method as an equal No-Dig method amongst all others. Developments in the industry have also created faith and significantly guided my company Geonex, which is currently the only Horizontal Hammer Boring brand in the world.”

Mechanical pipe cleaning is another area where Finnish companies have shown very innovative activity. For example, Mika Lokkinen, Chief Inventor with Picote Solutions Oy commented: “Sewers in Europe have been cleaned with mechanical tools since 2000. Mechanical cleaning is usually used when the purpose is to repair internally either a repaired or leaking sewer pipe. Mechanical cleaning is more effective than high pressure washing with water. In order for the sewer pipe to be rehabilitated, it must be made as clean as possible, following the old shape of the pipe. There are dozens of different types of mechanical cleaning tools. The tools range from very gentle to very efficient as well as everything in between. The tool used is always selected according to the condition and material of the pipe to be cleaned. Two decades of mechanical cleaning have taught us that sewer materials and strengths vary widely between decades.

The general view in the art is that the older the pipe, the better material suitable for sewer use has been used during installation. Without exception, even hundred-year-old pipes have been and are thicker and of higher quality than younger or newer pipes. The new pipes, especially those manufactured and installed over the last two decades, are made of low-quality recycled metal and therefore these pipes have aged surprisingly fast. They can leak as quickly as 2 to 20 years after installation.”

All types of sewer pipes are used. It is therefore very important that the tools, materials and methods used in the industry, both in new pipes and repairs, strive in the best possible way to provide value to customers, all over the world. It is natural to understand that the experience gained from the above has been accumulated, as about 500,000 meters of sewer pipes are mechanically cleaned in Europe every year. The FiSTT organisation has been very active in this area and a lot of information about cleaning methods has been accumulated. The knowledge now therefore exists to view the wide range of suitable methods and tools for cleaning pipes without damaging them.

Where to for the Future

Krista Sampolahti, Marketing chief Aarsleff Oy, an FiSTT member, has considered how FiSTT has aided the development the trenchless market saying: “Awareness of the existence of liners has, of course, increased from zero to almost 100% (particularly in water utilities), here the role of FiSTT has certainly been significant, for example with seminars in its early years at the Aviation Museum. Its subscriber base has remained quite constant at about 20 to 25 water utilities per year for the last 10 years, with the largest water utilities being involved from the beginning, but it is nice to note that even smaller subscribers are now joining every year which bodes well for the future of the industry as well as FiSTT.” In closing Krista commented: “The biggest and most revolutionary development has been on the real estate side.”

So, FiSTT has for over 20 years been able to bring together, provide information to and contacts for and help guide the local Finnish trenchless market exceedingly well. It also continues to do so, which may be highly valuable for the future as pressure for all industry sectors to perform at best value for money whilst remaining very environmentally-sustainable increases.

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