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Tunneling Towards Success

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Technicore Underground Inc. is part of the Technicore Group of Companies, founded in 1994. The Technicore Underground branch of the group operates as a heavy civil construction firm and specializes in tunnel and trench work. As a tunneling contractor, Technicore Underground provides infrastructure solutions in both the private and public spheres across a wide variety of sectors, including water mains, sewer lines, subway tunnels and pedestrian tunnels. Technicore Underground build tunnels ranging in diameter from 600mm to 6000mm for different applications.

The Technicore Group of Companies entered the market as a manufacturer in 1994. At the time, the company was specializing in manufacturing tunnel construction equipment. Subsequently, the group vertically integrated into other business lines including construction, steel fabrication and pre-cast manufacturing. Khaled Elnabolsy, Vice President of Construction at Technicore Underground, believes that many factors have contributed to the longevity of the group. Firstly, Elnabolsy mentions the “generational inheritance of experiences,” explaining that the company has been family owned through generations, which gives the Technicore Group a continuity that its competitors don’t share.

tehcnicore underground lowering pipe into tunnel

While Elnabolsy is keen to point to the many strengths in-house, he also acknowledges external factors have played a part in the company’s success. With the demand for infrastructure increasing by the year in the Greater Toronto Area due to its consistently increasing population, geographical location has certainly played its part. As he explains, the need to work smart has never been more important to a company. “As the cities get more condensed and more populated, clients tend to gear towards less disruptive construction solutions. One way this can be achieved is through tunneling and trench work.” Elnabolsy believes that this gives the company “an edge in that aspect.”

Alongside this, the company’s owner has been “quite invested in different tunneling methods.” This, according to Elnabolsy, gives the company a lot of versatility. “We can actually do different types of tunneling and trenches work, using different technologies. This allows the team to be pre-qualified for different projects of different sizes and complexities.”

Technicore Underground offers a range of services to the market and, while the company is primarily a tunneling contractor, it is also a general contractor and can work as a sub-contractor to perform the tunneling and deep excavation work. Alongside this, the group provides pre-cast concrete manufacturing. This has the added benefit of supporting the company across its divisions. “Most of the concrete precast pipes that we install in our tunnels are made by the Technicore group,” specifically by its sister company, Ewing Fabricators.

“While the company is primarily a tunneling contractor, it is also a general contractor and can work as a sub-contractor to perform the tunneling and deep excavation work.”

One of the company’s standout projects was the Burnhamthorpe Water Project, which was TAC 2021 Canadian Project of the Year. Elnabolsy describes this project as “one of the largest projects that Technicore was the sole contractor on.” The project included around 12km of water and sanitary pipelines, which had to be constructed in the city center of Mississauga using different construction methodologies including tunnel and micro tunnel boring machines along with open-cut excavations. As he explains, the ability to shift lanes and service various markets enabled the company to work seamlessly on the project. “We utilized mostly Technicore manufactured equipment to construct the tunnels.”

The project team consisted of the client, Peel Region, Hatch as the consultant, and Technicore as the general contractor. Due to the constraints of working in the city, the project involved quite a bit of innovative thinking. In order to solve these issues, the company took on a collaborative approach. “We worked collaboratively with the clients in optimizing some of the designs. It was a very successful project overall as, despite it being located in the city center, we were able to mitigate a lot of concerns that the public had.”

Another standout project that Technicore worked on was the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Pedestrian Tunnel which connects the airport to the mainland. As ever, the company used its vast experience and expertise to complete a job that Elnabolsy describes as a “very significant project” for the company. “Work on this project was carried out before I joined the company, but it was a very remarkable project for Technicore and for the tunneling industry in general.”

Looking to the future, it would seem as though things are bright for those at Technicore. The company has recently secured projects which will be completed in the next four to five years. As Elnabolsy notes, these recent successes provide the company with the opportunity to develop and grow. For both the industry and the Greater Toronto Area, he says that the company “foresee[s] that the demand is going to be steadily growing as well.” This, he states, will mean the company is in an enviable position where its greatest challenge is “to try to keep up with the work that’s going to be available. The outlook for the end of 2022 is strong and our goal is to complete some of the major milestones that we have on the books. We plan to do this as a company by remaining open to hiring some strong talents, or even some new workers who are interested in learning more about the tunneling and trenches world.”

With a growing reputation of providing excellence in solutions and a wide array of skills, the company is one that truly stands alone in the industry. Elnabolsy believes that by putting collaboration as a cornerstone of its working relationships, it is a positive outlier in the industry. “We don’t just take what’s in the contract and apply it without thinking. We actually do take the design and we sometimes try to come up with better solutions for our clients. Sometimes when our clients have problems that they’re stuck on, we will work with them to come up with solutions that are best for all parties.”

technicore underground view into tunnel from above

Looking forward, 2023 is expected to be a busy year for Technicore. Elnabolsy believes that this will translate into even more growth for the company. “We are foreseeing that at some point during the year, there will be between six to eight tunnel boring machines mining at the same time. This will require us to grow our pool of talent.”

With skilled labor being an omnipresent challenge, this might be a spanner in the works for the company. Not so, it seems. As Elnabolsy states, it is yet another opportunity for the company. “We want to encourage engineering students to give some thought to the tunneling and trenches industry. It does provide less disruptive solutions to the public – solutions that are more environmentally friendly to build infrastructure to expand our cities.” Alongside this, he feels the public would also benefit from learning more about the tunneling and trenches industry, saying “you don’t really see anything happening on the surface but sometimes there is a tunneling project that is actually ongoing beside your house. It is always interesting to find out more about how that gets done, and what sort of innovation and new technologies are out there in our industry.”

With steady growth, high levels of talent, and a growing portfolio of impressive projects, it seems that Technicore is at the cutting edge of its industry. By bringing education and information to the table, the company is, yet again, breaking new ground too.

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