All indications suggest the HDD industry should remain rock-solid for 2020, with plenty of opportunity for growth and no signs of slowing down.
One of the primary drivers will be continued work within the telecommunications sub-market, specifically fiber optic installations, which we think will account for a whopping quarter of HDD equipment and services. Although fiber work had slowed down over the past few years (ever since Google pulled out of the construction biz), several major carriers (such as AT&T) recently launched their fiber installation growth programs, so work has begun ramping up again.
The introduction of 5G networks has played a major part in growth within that sector, bringing more construction work for telecom contractors, most of whom rely heavily upon HDD as their primary construction tool for underground installations.
Other contributing factors include investments from smaller cities to build out their own networks, as well as private homeowners located in more rural regions looking to improve their digital connectivity.
Following closely behind telecommunications work will be water installations, gas distribution, electric transmission & distribution, oil & gas transmission, sewer, and wind & solar.
As with any strong market segment, opportunity and demand often creates saturation, and HDD is no exception. The industry has seen a number of new HDD companies launch in the past year alone, many of which are inexperienced start-ups. This saturation and influx of new providers is resulting in depressed costs and pricing pressures for all, as well as improper project bidding and a lack in quality control.
Disposal of drilling fluid will remain a hot topic in 2020, particularly with mud disposal regulations tightening across state, county and city governments. Mud and fluid mixing, cleaning, recycling and reclaiming equipment will continue to become more refined and effective in response to these demands.
2020 will also see an influx in the number of mid-size rigs added to the fleets of historically smaller rig contractors, with 40.5% of contractors reporting plans to purchase a mid-size rig within the next year according to Underground Construction. Mid-size rigs are generally easy to operate, offer enhanced rock capabilities, and boast more power, enabling contractors to easily expand their offerings and capabilities.
Growth is always a blessing, but with it comes great challenges. Luckily, Radius HDD has the kickass resources and expertise to adapt, plan accordingly, embrace the future, and remain rock-solid in our industry-leading position as one of the nation’s largest and most respected manufacturers of HDD tools.