Embracing Pipe Rehabilitation

HammerHead evolves with a complete line of trenchless solutions for municipal utilities.

Embracing Pipe Rehabilitation

Interested in Rehab/Relining?

Get Rehab/Relining articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Rehab/Relining + Get Alerts

HammerHead has become a well-known name in the trenchless industry. From its launch in 1989 with the HammerHead Mole piercing tool to today with a broad range of pipe rehab and replacement products, the company has focused on building tools and equipment to serve customers’ specific needs.

Jeff Urbanski is the company’s senior manager of marketing and training. He has 20 years of trenchless industry experience and played an integral role in developing HammerHead Trenchless University to advocate and support hands-on training and education.

Municipal Sewer & Water recently spoke with Urbanski about the company’s culture, product development philosophy and the future of the industry.

MSW: Tell us a little about the history of HammerHead and how it serves the water and wastewater industry.

Urbanski: The HammerHead Mole piercing tool was initially produced out of a converted chicken coop on one of our founder’s properties. What began as three friends with a drive to create a better earth-piercing tool has transformed into the industry’s most complete offering of trenchless solutions from a single source. The evolution of HammerHead Trenchless encompasses a focus on trenchless technologies that service the entire life cycle of the pipe, embracing the rehabilitation and replacement of existing infrastructure.

MSW: How do you see the sewer and water infrastructure rehabilitation industry evolving?

Urbanski: As awareness of our failing infrastructure continues to be brought to light with reports backed by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the demand for cost effective and environmentally safe techniques to rehab or replace sewer and water pipes is going to continue to rise at a rapid rate. With this ever-increasing need for effective and economical solutions to address deteriorating underground infrastructure, manufacturers have begun working in conjunction with contractors to ensure their specific needs on the jobsite are met. This idea of incorporating the voice of the customer into the development and design of new technology is something that HammerHead takes a great deal of pride in. Our role as a manufacturer is to provide contractors with the tools and the support they need to get the job done, so why wouldn’t we centralize their frame of reference in everything we do?

The concerns of our customers are at the forefront of what we do at HammerHead. With municipalities specifically, we see the leading concern being tax dollars. With very limited budgets coupled with water mains breaking at an astronomical rate, it can be cumbersome for municipalities to keep up with the current rate of aging infrastructure. So, with this in mind, it is critical that we continue to develop solutions that are cost-effective, require less manpower and can be performed more efficiently to allow municipalities to get more out of their budgets and save taxpayers money. With this focus as the industry continues to evolve and strive for technological advancements, I think the capabilities of light-curing technology will be a prominent focal point. The power of light-curing technology has already had a profound impact on the rehabilitation of sewer and water infrastructure and we’re only scratching the surface at this point. We’ve taken the CIPP process that can span over the course of several hours with traditional curing methods, but with light curing it allows contractors to accomplish the process in a matter of minutes! It will be very exciting to see how we can continue to build off of this in order to support the advancement of the industry.

MSW: How has your Rehab & Replacement Division evolved to meet the needs of utilities with aging infrastructure and limited budgets?

Urbanski: With our Rehab & Replacement Division we are redefining what the phrase “R&R” means. When people think R&R the first thing that comes to mind is vacation. Well, this is about solving problems. When HammerHead first entered the industry, piercing tools was our foundation, but as we came to understand the entire perspective of the industry the demand from the municipal, commercial and residential markets as well as gas and water utilities set HammerHead on our path to rehab and replacement. The very essence of HammerHead’s Rehab & Replacement Division originated from the voice of the customer.

HammerHead’s core focus on the rehab and replacement of underground infrastructure provides customers with the versatility needed to approach any jobsite. From a rehabilitation standpoint, we offer point repair and CIPP solutions. Point repair solutions are utilized when only a segment of the pipe is damaged, whereas CIPP is implemented when damage exists along the entire length of the pipe. Whether it be a point repair or CIPP, both options extend the service life by up to 50 years.

If the pipe is at the end of its life cycle and is beyond the point of rehabilitation, the existing pipe can be burst while simultaneously pulling in the new replacement line by utilizing our Same Path Technology. The “Replacement” sector of our division is also able to support gas utilities with pipe slitting and pipe extraction methods. In these scenarios, the existing gas line is split or completely extracted from the ground while once again pulling in the replacement line at the same time.

The concept of the Rehab & Replacement Division deviates from the one-size-fits-all mentality and provides a variety of solutions for municipalities to essentially — and safely — do more with less.

MSW: How has the company as a whole evolved over the past eight years under the Charles Machine Works umbrella?

Urbanski: When HammerHead was initially acquired by Charles Machine Works, it was distinctively known for the HammerHead Moles. HammerHead supported areas of pipe replacement but it wasn’t until we entered the CIPP market that we recognized the potential for the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure. As the organization continued to analyze the underground construction industry there was a lot of excitement around the opportunity for growth in rehabilitation. HammerHead has grown tremendously and now as a division of The Toro Company we feel that growth is only going to continue, and we could not be more excited for what is to come!

MSW: Does the larger corporate framework provide more opportunity for collaboration and partnerships?

Urbanski: Absolutely, yes! The Toro Company is an incredible organization, which is extremely diverse and embodies a significant amount of expertise that HammerHead never had access to before. The Toro organization brings a lot to the table especially when it comes to international strategy and business strategy ideas. The acquisition has been extremely positive and I can truly say that the best is yet to come.

MSW: What kind of solutions and capabilities does HammerHead provide municipal utilities?

Urbanski: When it comes to solutions and capabilities for municipal utilities, we offer more than just a product or piece of equipment; we offer innovative and industry-leading training as well as unmatched service and support for the longevity of your HammerHead product. The offerings of our Rehab & Replacement Division include tools needed for large-scale infrastructure as well.

On the rehabilitation side, we offer large-diameter point repair solutions (up to 60 inches in diameter) as well as a mainline CIPP system for gravity pipe, pressure pipe and water pressure pipes for potable water. From the replacement aspect, we offer both pneumatic and static pipe bursting options with capabilities to upsize the new replacement pipe being pulled in. We see contractors that purchase and install our product performing this type of work, but we also see many municipalities performing the work in-house by undergoing training with us at our HammerHead University and in the field with our application specialists.

MSW: Tell me about the philosophy behind HammerHead University.

Urbanski: Like many things at HammerHead Trenchless, the inception of our HammerHead University came from the voice of the customer. The key thing we want to do is create an innovative educational experience. Trade schools are great but we don’t see many trade schools training students on trenchless technology. So, we built a comprehensive curriculum that offers in-person and virtual training as well as an eLearning capability that will be available soon. The cool thing about having those different elements is that everyone learns differently. Some people must do it, some people need to read it, some people need to hear it. Some people need a combination of everything, and HammerHead University achieves all that and more.

For in-person training, we have a 5,000-square-foot facility designed specifically to provide hands-on learning opportunities in a distraction-free and risk-free environment for trenchless contractors, installers, project engineers, utility companies and municipal crews. One of the amazing capabilities of the HammerHead University is job-site simulation. Whether it be working in a two-story facility, a basement, or even a manhole in a city street, HammerHead University has the tools simulate any jobsite.

MSW: Do you sell direct to utilities or go through distributors?

Urbanski: HammerHead is unique in the sense that our R&R Products are almost exclusively sold direct to customers. As a component of our direct sales, we have an ecommerce platform for consumables or smaller parts at www.hammerheadshop.com. Other categories like our gas utility products and the HammerHead Mole are sold through the Ditch Witch dealer network.

MSW: What’s on the horizon for HammerHead, are new product lines in development?

Urbanski: Well, now being a publicly traded company, we can’t really tell you any of our secrets that are coming. But as I said earlier, Toro prides itself on developing new products and HammerHead is never going to stop. Every day. We’re working on multiple new opportunities and things that will be coming down the pipeline. You can see just in the last year, we launched a brand new 100-ton Bursting unit the 100XTR and we launched a new HG550 winch, a 5.5-ton pulling unit. Every year this is going to continue with Hammerhead, we’re not going to slow down. And it doesn’t have to be just the development of a product. It can be development of services or aspects. You’re going to see a lot more from HammerHead. On the education piece you’re going to see education in our learning management system through Hammerhead University, you’re going to see learning in a variety of new ways, because that is also a product whether you recognize it or not. It can be a service; it can be a variety of ideas. Hammerhead is not going to stop offering new solutions because our customers are the lifeblood of our company and that’s what keeps us going.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.