5 Reasons Why Experience is Key

Anyone who has served as a general contractor or managed a government, industrial, or commercial building project understands that environmental drilling offers a critical window into the subsurface, providing information on conditions that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Drilling can also provide critical information to help a developer or property owner determine due care obligations and assert or maintain regulatory compliance. For example, if there is contamination that originated on the site, but is also migrating onto the site from elsewhere, drilling can help establish environmental liability obligations while providing the data needed to protect occupants and construction workers from exposure to potential contaminants.

Environmental drilling can be complex, with wide-ranging implications. The key is to choose a company that understands your needs and your region — and knows what to do when something unexpected comes up.

Here are a few ways an experienced drilling company can help keep your project on track.

1. A knowledgeable team can pivot when faced with the unexpected.

Rarely, if ever, do things go exactly as expected when drilling.  A knowledgeable team understands the limitations they might encounter during construction and can anticipate complications and troubleshoot, solve problems, and adapt on the fly in the field.

For example, if a crew is tasked with installing a watermain seven feet below the surface, but there’s bedrock three feet down, drillers must either find a workaround or arrange for qualified experts to blast through the bedrock, which can add significant cost. A seasoned team of drillers can rely on past experience to try a variety of solutions instead of walking away. Expertise is even more critical in Michigan and Wisconsin since these states don’t require a special license for drillers.

If the drilling company you’re considering also has in-house expertise in private utility location, it can save you time, as well as money you might otherwise invest in a separate utility location company. Calling the state’s one-call system, which is required by law, will only provide information about public land. A drilling company that also does utility location has the equipment and knowledge to clear all boring locations, including those on private land. This adds another level of damage prevention and protection.

2. Experienced drillers understand your region’s geographic challenges.

Make sure the drilling company you select understands the challenges of working in your region and knows where to anticipate issues. A driller with deep experience in your area will know where you’re likely to encounter bedrock and groundwater, and will be familiar with local problems like soil vapor intrusion.

An experienced local crew will understand the complexity of working in rural areas such as the UP. For instance, drilling in the center of a heavily wooded forest requires special equipment and the ability to access remote locations. If it’s a protected area, such as a national forest, this is even more critical.

An honest and experienced team will know your area well enough to have these conversations up front and early on, even before signing the contract. They will be willing and able to discuss the unique challenges of the drill site and how they plan to address them. For instance, if the team knows in advance that the site contains bedrock, they can determine whether that limitation can be addressed in house or will need to be subcontracted out.

Be wary if a company readily accepts a job without discussing geographic details and potential issues up front. A crew that takes the job then discovers challenges midway may impact your timeline or even abandon the project altogether. Addressing issues in advance establishes trust and transparency.

3. A seasoned team knows the right equipment for the job.

Whether your jobsite requires direct push, hollow stem auger, or standard penetration test capabilities, you need a driller who understands the equipment needs for your specific site. Some drilling rigs are more flexible with fewer limitations. In fact, some rigs can even be used inside buildings while larger rigs may not be as nimble.

The team working in a national forest would need a more all-terrain rig with a smaller footprint that causes as little disturbance as possible. An experienced team would know to use a track-mounted rig along with matting and materials to navigate potentially wet, muddy conditions.

If a site has a lot of cobble or tough drilling conditions, it’s important that your drilling team has the knowledge and flexibility to know when they can try alternative approaches and different tooling instead of shutting the project down. Choose a company that understands the strengths and limitations of their equipment and knows whether their tooling and rigs can overcome site limitations and meet your needs.

4. Qualified drillers are trained and safety conscious.

Accidents can cause injuries, property damage, project delays and added stress. Be sure to investigate a potential driller’s safety record and training. Ask about their emergency response plan, health and safety plans, risk assessments, inspection protocols, and insurance coverage. Ask if they’re enrolled in programs like ISNetworld and whether larger project teams can withstand the scrutiny of OSHA.

Ask about the drilling team’s qualification credentials and training. Check to see if they have energy transmission industry operator qualification credentials and have undergone OSHA HAZWOPER training that allows them to safely work on contaminated sites. Ask if they follow required Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing programs. The best companies not only meet the regulatory requirements, but go above and beyond, with a strong understanding of the hazards and risks involved with drilling and the ability to manage those hazards and risks.

5. An experienced team can help you stay on track and on budget.

Experience leads to efficiency, which directly affects your bottom line. When a drilling team knows the geography, understands the site conditions, has the right equipment, and is able to troubleshoot and overcome site limitations, your project is much more likely to stay on track and on budget.

TriMedia Environmental & Engineering has a knowledgeable team of drillers, some of whom have more than a decade of experience in the region. Any given TriMedia drilling crew has between 15 and 20 years of experience and is supported by a staff of reporting, data, and interpretation experts. We know what and where the challenges are and how to address them. Whether it’s a corner gas station losing product, a developer considering a contaminated property, or a municipality replacing sewer lines, our drilling services and in-house utility location capabilities can help prevent damage, save money, and keep your project on track.

Have questions about your next drilling project? Contact our experts, and we’ll get you answers.