The first class of contractors to graduate from HammerHead University received manufacturer certification after three days of hands-on, guided instruction Sept. 17. The training facilities and curricula had been officially announced as fully operational at the Lake Mills, Wisconsin, headquarters of HammerHead Trenchless, a Charles Machine Works company, during its annual August sales meeting.
The new two-story, 5,000-square-foot educational facilities – which HammerHead notes is the world’s most advanced trenchless technique learning center – provide trenchless method contractors, plumbers, project engineers and utility company and municipal crews both classroom and hands-on application training for every HammerHead product line. Courses are available for the pipe ramming, pipe bursting and pipe slitting methods; lateral and vertical cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) cleaning, preparation and rehabilitation; and pipe and culvert spot repair.
HammerHead University’s first graduates included six Apollo Home employees. Founded in 1910, the Cincinnati-based business provides sales, service and repair of home mechanicals including heating, cooling, ventilation, electrical, plumbing and sewer systems for more than 800,000 customers in its Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana service area.
Services such as drain cleaning, water line replacement and sewer repair are overseen by Apollo Excavation manager Dustin White, who was one of those returning for a three-day course on HammerHead CIPP lining systems and point repair. White received his initial HammerHead CIPP certification prior to the existence of the facilities. He compared how much the university-like setting improved the learning experience for four Apollo technicians attending with him for their initial certification.
“The controlled environment really makes a difference,” White said. “The mockup creates a better real-life experience. It takes away the anxiety of a ‘game-time’ situation. The pipe was embedded in gravel, but everything was above ground, giving our people who are new to CIPP better visual access to see exactly how it works.”
Jeff Urbanski, HammerHead training and technical services manager, said a fully controlled learning environment allows students to focus on the fundamentals of the applications without the distraction of specific, site-based complications. Initially grounded in an application’s principles, students are better prepared to anticipate how such jobsite factors will affect an operation, as well as help them to more quickly determine the root cause of any problem that arises.
“This is innovative education. It’s not just reading from a book. We simulate real-life applications, replicating situations that put participants inside a house or a manhole on a street. But taking away the soil, watery ground conditions and confined entries in their first experience with the method results in more consistently repeatable performance over a wide range of worksite conditions.”
A controlled learning environment is also a safer environment to gain practical experience before applying techniques in the field, he said. “Mistakes in a controlled setting result in greater understanding, whereas on an actual job, mistakes can cause expensive downtime due to equipment or property damage.”
For those who already have that grounded understanding, Urbanski said instructors can alter mockups to duplicate a specific site’s set of complications. “Contractors can study in advance the impact of certain variables like cobbled soils and flooded pits before they face them on the job.”
Courses are led by application experts. “Our HammerHead University teaching staff consists of former plumbers, knowledgeable factory and industry equipment specialists and experienced field technicians – all highly trusted advisors,” Urbanski said.
The HammerHead University setting enables courses to be held year-round. “No matter what the weather is outside, 365 days a year, participants can be using Same Path technologies to install, replace or rehab pipe, from gas-line slitting to CIPP applications.”
HammerHead is currently in the process of establishing an “e-learning platform” with continuing education units for its courses. Urbanski said, “In association with our courses, students will be able to go online and for a small fee take a pass-fail course to receive certification that applies specifically to their state or a given municipality if its governed by specific guidance. Certification will be annually renewable.”
Average class sizes in a given application range between two and five people. The University demonstration area accommodates up to 18 participants in as many as eight separate application stations simultaneously. Larger class sizes can be accommodated in the HammerHead University conference room.
To enroll or request information about specialized courses, contact HammerHead Trenchless at 920-648-4848, or go to hammerheadtrenchless.com/training.