“Why did you do that?” was the comment Lance Horlyck made to Mick McGill when he discovered Mr McGill had nominated him for the ASTT Person of the Year award.

“I guess that reflects my tendency to be my harshest critic,” he explains. “However, when I thought about previous winners of the award and how long they had worked in Trenchless Technology I realised that I had known them for a good proportion of my working life. I felt honoured that Mick considered that I had contributed sufficiently to the industry to be worthy of nomination.”

Though Mr Horlyck is modest in accepting his contribution to the trenchless industry, with over 35 years of experience and accomplishments in many fields, it’s fair to say that he is an industry veteran who has carved himself a place in Australasia’s trenchless hall of fame. Mr Horlyck has worked as a structural engineer and consultant on numerous large-scale water and trenchless projects, and continues to advise big utilities on innovative trenchless solutions for
pipeline rehabilitation.

Early beginnings
Born and raised in the western suburbs of Sydney, Mr Horlyck studied civil engineering at the University of Sydney, graduating with first class honours. A successful academic career paved the way for a fruitful working life when he took up a position as a structural engineer at GHD shortly after completing his studies.

“I was fortunate in my time at GHD working as a structural engineer to work with some phenomenal older engineers, such as Max Brand, John Alden, John Fisher and Norm Long, who were prepared to share their experience, giving me the confidence and teaching me how to approach even the most complex engineering problems from both a technical and logistical perspective.”

While working at GHD Mr Horlyck was involved in developing designs for a number of different water and bridge structures and worked an 18-month stint as a site engineer at the original Darling Harbour development, overseeing the contracts associated with the recently decommissioned Sydney railway.

Going solo
In 1990 Mr Horlyck decided to spread his engineering wings by setting up his own business, Sewer Assessment Specialists (SAS). SAS provided in-house specialist consulting services for a number of clients including Sydney Water, a working relationship that continued for the next 15 years.

At SAS Mr Horlyck was responsible for providing engineering advice on projects related to condition assessment and the rehabilitation of water and wastewater assets.

In the early 1990s Mr Horlyck undertook his first major trenchless project – a large inflow abatement program for Sydney Water, including the rehabilitation of multiple reticulation sewers.

The contractor selected to complete the works had made some significantly bold claims about the superiority of their own products and technology. As the consulting engineer, Mr Horlyck teamed up with Bob Cadden and Peter Zenman to rigorously examine the contractor’s claims and to set up a model for specifying Sydney Water’s requirements for pipe rehabilitation and internal lining on future projects.

Mr Zenman was an obvious choice to assist on the job as he had previously held a position as the Chairman of the Australian Standards Committee for the development of the Buried Flexible Pipe code.

As a result of this consulting project, Mr Horlyck and Mr Zenman wrote a paper titled Sewer Lining Design: A Strategy for Dealing with the Uncertainties which they jointly presented at the 1994 ASTT Conference in Sydney. This was the first of many published papers Mr Horlyck would contribute to the trenchless industry throughout his career.

Career highlights
It was also in the 1990s that Mr Horlyck worked on one of the most rewarding projects of his career – the rehabilitation and stabilisation of the heritage listed Centennial Park Reservoir.

Located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, the reservoir was built in the 1890s and, with its unique design and incredibly ornate features, is still considered an engineering marvel for its time.

The project work involved the stabilisation of the reservoir and the installation of a permanent rock anchor, working around the limited site access available. During the rehabilitation work, Mr Horlyck was part of an initiative to open the site for public inspection and guided tours – tours which grew to be exceedingly popular.

“An initial one day visit for a couple of hundred people ballooned out to non-stop tours at 20 minute intervals by multiple guides over three weekends, with more than 10,000 people being escorted through the site.

“The Centennial Park project emphasised to me that the public is enthusiastic about engineering – it just needs an invitation and something interesting to learn about,” he said.

Industry challenges
In 2000 Mr Horlyck was faced with one of the biggest challenges of his career in the trenchless industry. While he was working as a consulting engineer at Sydney Water he realised that satisfactory repair to the gravity sewer reticulation system was being hampered by the lack of a long-term viable solution for sealing the junction between the main line and the lateral.

Alongside Wayne Robinson, Mr Horlyck approached several of Sydney Water’s lining system suppliers and notified them that the upcoming annual program of works would include the installation of a junction seal in the gravity sewer. That was when he came up against the next problem – he was told that the lining system he needed simply did not exist.

“We were originally advised that we were requesting the impossible as no system existed worldwide,” said Mr Horlyck. “We advised industry that Sydney Water was prepared to assist in the development by providing sewers to trial new products and reimburse some of the costs for the trial installations.”

Only contractors who had successfully completed a trial junction seal would be allocated work in the next major tender. Following this, Australian liner suppliers led the world in developing junction seal systems. Some of these systems pioneered the way to those technologies being used internationally. A second generation lateral sealing system – the Interfit developed by Interflow – has so far been installed in over 125,000 locations and today is being exported to North America as well as being used in Australia and New Zealand.

Within 12 months all three main suppliers had successfully developed a junction seal system. Some of these system pioneered the way to these technologies being exported overseas for use elsewhere in the world. One of these junction seal technologies was Rotaloc, a spiral wound PVC pipe lining system that won Innovation Product of the Year at the 2001 ISTT annual awards. To date the Rotaloc system has been used to line over 25,000 m of pipe in Australia alone.

Working in partnership
In 2004 SAS joined forces with TTI Consulting Engineers to form the SASTTI Joint Venture partnership. In that same year SASTTI won a tender for the supply of specialist engineering services to Sydney Water, extending Mr Horlyck’s established relationship with the utility.

Mr Horlyck now lives on the North Shore, Sydney, with Karen, his wife of over 30 years. Together they have five children, Karla, Sarah, Jonathan, Lachlan and Oliver; and one grandchild, Kai.

After spending most of his working life in the Sydney CBD, these days he works from his office in Parramatta, located just around the corner from the oval where he played school sports as a child.

Mr Horlyck continues working with SASTTI and Sydney Water as a specialist engineer and shows no signs of slowing down. He has already started the wheels in motion to establish an ASTT Special Interest Group (SIG) for linings. He hopes that the SIG will discuss areas for improvement, and develop new or improved approaches for issues such as standard specifications, grouted linings and large culvert rehabilitation.

“I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others and hope to be involved in more challenging and interesting rehabilitation projects in the future.

“The best advice I can offer to any young engineer is to never stop asking questions. Eventually you will arrive at a question for which no one has the answer. That’s when things get interesting.”

On being the 2015 Person of the Year
Despite his illustrious career, Mr Horlyck was surprised when he heard his name read out as the Person of the Year award winner.

“I was sitting at the table after enjoying dinner, relaxed with my coat off, so needless to say when my name was read out I was totally surprised. I guess I thought that there were others that had given just as much time and effort to the industry who would be more likely to win than I was.

“As a consulting engineer I do not have large amounts of money to spend on Trenchless Technology, nor do I have any products that I can sell. As a technical advisor my role has been to work with all the various parties in the industry to help identify and solve problems to achieve the best outcome.

“As I mentioned in my speech, it is a journey that I have been fortunate to share with others. If it was not for their cooperation, talent and hard work I could not do my job. I would not have been successful in the industry and I would not have received the award. To all those I have worked with over the years: thank you.”