After three years on the road, the Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exposition returned “home” to Houston and posted a 21 percent increased in attendance over the 2010 show.
“Registration for this year’s show was a significant increase over the past few years,” said UCT Show Manager Karen Francis. “We were pleased with the turnout. But more than that, as the industry’s largest event dedicated to the underground infrastructure, UCT is often a precursor of the market’s overall economic health.”
Many attendees and exhibitors also said they were pleased with the event, which featured new hours for educational programs and the exhibit hall which opened earlier on the first day and closed at noon the final day.
More than 100 educational sessions covered a wide range of timely topics, including tracks about sewer and water rehabilitation technologies, advances in CIPP technologies, pipebursting, storm water, sewer construction, WaterWorks conference, trenchless technical symposium, alternative energy construction and a new Rigonomics program about the business aspects of horizontal directional drilling. (Editor’s Note: Want to participate in the educational sessions for UCT 2012? Submit a technical paper or session proposal.)
For the second year, UCT included a Damage Protection and Safety Program expanded for 2011 and a locator seminar, conducted by Staking University. Also included was a “Safe Zone” on the exhibit floor, where a raised surface permitted simulated underground utilities for participants to locate, putting into practice classroom lessons.
As it has since 2002, the RehabZone, a show-within-a-show on the UCT exhibit floor, provided a generic, non-selling event dedicated to providing basic general information about water and sewer rehabilitation technologies without referencing specific brands and products. RehabZone Chairperson Dorcas Hermes said the ’Zone drew record attendance in 2011.
“UCT was absolutely outstanding this year,” said Chris Brahler, president and chief executive officer of TT Technologies. “UCT is a great industry event. It showcases the trenchless market very well and provides us with essential networking to further the advancement of trenchless technology.”
Greg Wilder, Comtran Group, Buford, GA, said this year’s UCT had a lot of new technology.
“We are a telecom and specialty directional boring company,” he said. “We’re seeing new equipment such as smaller drill rigs, new tooling that will help work in rock, and learning about capabilities of bigger machines. In addition, we’re making a lot of good contacts. I’ve attended UCT before, but never the educational sessions. They are very good, and I’ve gotten a lot out of them.”
Tom Bender, TWS Drilling and Construction, Big Sandy, TX, said his company’s personnel have been attending UCT since the first show.
“It was out on I-10 at a hotel,” he remembered. “It’s sure come a long way since then. We always learn something every year.”
Rob Bright, Kenny Construction, Northbrook, IL, said his company’s primary work is sewer lining and tunneling.
“The seminars here are good,” he said. “We learned about pipebursting, and found a lot of good displays in the exhibit hall. We found some new products we like, such as a miniature steam boiler for curing pipe. It’s also good to come here and see many familiar faces from companies we work with in Illinois.”
Siggi Finnsson, Digital Control Inc. (DCI) said the show was “good.” He added that DCI introduced its new F5 DigiTrak locating system, the top-of-the-line model of the company’s new F Series horizontal directional drilling locating and tracking equipment, and the product “generated a lot of attention.”
Pipeline Machinery International, Houston, exhibited the new Deckhand hydraulic pipe handling system from LaValley Industries, Bemidji, MN. “We received a ton of interest,” said LaValley’s Jason LaValley.
First-time exhibitor PumpBiz, Northbrook, IL, attracted attention with its new Portapump, a portable trash pump the user can carry with a sling over the shoulder, similar to a string trimmer, which the product resembles.
“It’s as simple to use as a trimmer,” said Jeff Richmond, exhibit spokesman. “The self-priming pump is for dewatering small pits, trenches, manholes, valve boxes and depositing water. A hose carries water away from the area being dewatered. The show is excellent, and we are getting interest from municipal employees and contractors. The show is well attended and is bringing in the proper people for our product.”
A growing number of industry organizations continue to plan events in conjunction with UCT. This year, they included CUIRE (Center for Underground Infrastructure Research and Education) with two full days of training that began the Sunday before UCT opened, NASSCO (National Association of Sewer Service Companies), a primary sponsor of the RehabZone, and the North American Society of Trenchless Technology.
UCT is the only annual industry event bringing together contractors, utility providers, consulting engineers, manufacturers and service providers in a true business and educational environment. It is sponsored by Underground Construction, Pipeline & Gas Journal and Pipeline News magazines with the support of corporate, association, and academic cosponsors.
The 2012 UCT show is scheduled in San Antonio, TX, Jan. 24-26. Information will be posted soon at www.uctonline.com.