Trenchless professionals are always looking for new ways or the best conventional methods to save money and improve infrastructure. That’s why the annual North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT) No-Dig Show is highly regarded as one of the best events for trenchless technology.

The NASTT No-Dig Show focuses on products, services and applications to consider for topics like sewer, water, gas utility, industrial, pipeline, damage prevention and safety, transmission pipeline construction, rehabilitation and maintenance, and more.

We followed up this year’s No-Dig Show by chatting with NASTT Executive Director Michael Willmets to get his thoughts on what made this year such a successful event, plus what trenchless professionals can look forward to in the trenchless industry.

How Many People Attended this Year's No-Dig show and How Did that Compare to Previous Years?

While we typically average around 2,000 attendees, we had over 2,200 attendees this year, which was very close to our record of 2,300 in Denver back in 2015.

What Was New this Year?

We had a record number of exhibitors, in fact we had 203 organizations join our exhibit floor to showcase their latest innovations in products, technology and services. Each year we make it a point to add new content, publications, forums and events to the NASTT No-Dig Show.

This year’s forum/panel discussion topics included direct pipe, advanced pressure pipeline condition assessment and innovative products. Plus, we offered a half-day municipal grouting pre-conference course for the first time. The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) partnered with us as we offered a tour of the GTI facilities in conjunction with the Gas Industry Day portion of the conference.

Other new items included our Pipe Bursting Center of Excellence which held a meeting, and we were excited to launch our latest publication, NASTT’s Pipe Bursting Good Practices Guidelines Manual.

What Trends Do You See Emerging in the Industry?

I really believe that trenchless technology is becoming a global industry, and our conference attracts attendees from all over the world and is an international event. Both of this year’s winners, Geonex Oy (DTH-Hammer Drilling System) and Kobus Services Limited (Pipe Puller KPP400 Series), of our Abbott Award for Innovative Products & Services were European companies.

Of the 13 finalists for this award, these two companies had the stand-out products.

What Are People in the Industry Most Interested in Learning About this Year and in Recent Years?

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is still one of the most well attended sessions and gets the highest interest, and structural CIPP lining for the water and gas segments continues to be a hot topic, as well. But interestingly, pipe bursting is making a huge resurgence. (Read An Introduction to Pipe Bursting.)

This industry segment remains strong and it’s the only way to upsize an existing pipe without digging up the earth. With population growth, as well as consumer need for water, upsizing pipe is needed in every location around the world and pipe bursting is a reliable means to do so.

What can professionals gain from attending a conference like No-Dig?

For starters, the NASTT No-Dig Show offers peer-reviewed, non-commercial paper presentations. We pride ourselves on our large volunteer Program Committee including over 100 industry volunteers that go through a rigorous review process on every abstract that is submitted. This ensures that our technical sessions are of the highest quality of any conference in the trenchless technology industry.

We also offer CEUs for technical paper attendance and pre- and post-conference training courses. We even offer multiple networking opportunities throughout the event that range from casual coffee breaks to our formal event, NASTT’s Gala Awards Dinner.

Needless to say, we’re also really proud of our members, volunteers and attendees. There are so many innovative-thinking people in one room, and we find that they’re really fun and exciting creative minds who are all dedicated to finding innovative solutions to infrastructure challenges.

How Does No-Dig Help Advance the Trenchless Industry?

Well, we provide a platform that is the one annual event that brings a niche industry together for collaboration. If you want to know something, anything about trenchless you will find it at No-Dig. We offer the most knowledgeable attendees and presenters that are dedicated to sharing their knowledge for the good of the industry.

Can We Give Some Solid Reasons to Consider Going Next Year?

The 2020 No-Dig Show will be held in Denver. As Denver is historically our most well-attended location, it’s a central location and an engineering and idea hub. You’ll find every industry segment there, such as engineers, contractors, academics, students, municipalities and media.

Every single type of person involved in the industry will be at No-Dig. If you’re in the trenchless game you simply must attend. Our industry’s highest awards are presented at the conference, as well. We celebrate collaboration and innovation, as well as volunteerism.