A small piece of equipment is making a big difference in the City of Johannesburg’s fight to replace aging sewerage infrastructure fast.

The small and simple to operate pipe bursting machine, known as the HammerHead Portaburst PB30, has been put to work by Drill Power Tech Engineering throughout the suburbs of Weltevreden Park and Roodekrans where it is able to burst and replace aging cementitious and clay sewerage pipelines faster than a large team of men working in its place.

A speedy solution

Fernando Barbosa, the owner of Drill Power Tech Engineering, says he is impressed with the machine’s speed.

“So far the longest run that we have done is 120m of standard 160mm piping which we completed in just two hours. In just over three months since entering the operation our HammerHead Portaburst PB30 has racked up an incredible 2km of pipe replacements in all sorts of terrain.

“What makes it even more useful is the fact that it is lightweight with a small, narrow footprint about a metre long and roughly the same height which means it requires much smaller entry and exit pits. This makes it ideal to use in confined areas or mid-block between two properties (usually in the backyards).

Compact and portable  

The machine, which is supplied by ELB Equipment, is portable. This enables it to be transported to areas where it can be assembled in tight confines and used to burst and pull pipes of up to 355mm over long lengths as required.

Its modular four component design, with each component weighing less than 32kg, even allows it to be passed over walls or into hard-to-reach spaces where it can be quickly reassembled in the pit if necessary.

ELB Equipment product manager, Phillip McCallum, says the HammerHead PortaBurst PB30 is the ideal system for replacing pipes in South Africa’s suburbs and townships due to its compact size, simplicity and power. It does not require expensive supporting infrastructure and can effectively be operated by a small team operating out of the back of a bakkie.


The small pit that it requires can be quickly and easily dug by hand which makes it a labour-friendly solution either for emerging contractors or an additional solution for established professionals such as Drill Power Tech Engineering.

“In this type of work, we cannot let downtime inconvenience residents and we therefore require ultimate reliability from our equipment and from our suppliers,” Barbosa concludes.

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