In a response to a shortage of drill operators in the horizontal directional drilling industry, Vermeer has introduced HDD Circuit — an intensive horizontal directional drill (HDD) operator training program.
The HDD Circuit training program is a tuition-based, two-week instructor-led program that provides a mix of classroom time with hands-on experience in a small-group learning environment for contractors’ employees.
During each two-week course, students will be exposed to topics on HDD safety, jobsite evaluation and setup, drill operation best practices, underground utility locating and potholing best practices, drilling fluid mixing and testing, proper bore and pullback techniques including the development of a bore to plan, as well as basic drill maintenance and inspection.
“We have heard a consistent message from underground contractors that they are having difficulty completing work due to a lack of qualified drill operators. With HDD Circuit, Vermeer is working to help grow the industry with trained operators,” said Tony Bokhoven, lifecycle training manager at Vermeer. “We are working to cultivate a pool of potential drill operators that will make HDD a career to help fill the positions available today and into the future.”
The curriculum covers all aspects of drill operation from walking the bore plan, potholing, creating the bore plan, mixing the mud, proper drill maintenance and actual hands-on time with the drill. The goal of the training program is that each student who successfully completes the program will be able to be a productive drill operator or crew member. HDD Circuit students must complete and pass a written test and hands-on evaluation in order to pass the program and receive a certificate of completion.
“We recognize that not every ground condition or every situation a drill operator may face in the field will be present during the training,” said Dave Wisniewski, vice president, underground
products at Vermeer. “What we’re teaching them is how to fundamentally be an operator, so they start to know what to look for, what to feel for and how to properly handle situations.”
The training is being offered to underground contractors who can select and send their current employees to the HDD Circuit training program at Vermeer’s world headquarters in Pella, Iowa. MasTec — a leading infrastructure construction company — is taking advantage of the program. Eight employees who have been with the company for a period of 12-months, just completed the two-week core HDD module.
“The MasTec Utility Services Group was thrilled to be a part of the HDD Circuit training pilot because programs like this are very well aligned with our mission to provide World-class training to our employees,” said John Congemi, director of employee development for MasTec. “Our partnership with Vermeer will play a vital role in our long-term directional drilling and locating training strategy.”
“I sat in on the training program and can attest that our team of employees who completed the HDD Circuit are heading back to their crews ready to effectively and efficiently operate drills and successfully expand the number of projects we complete,” said Ryan Russek, training manager for MasTec.
Future plans include the consideration to potentially expand the training program to audiences with an interest in construction trades and individuals seeking a career change.
“We are helping to create an opportunity for a new generation of drill operators for a career in a growing global market,” said Wisniewski.
At this time, the program is offered on-demand, meaning as contractors express an interest in bringing their crews, a course is scheduled. Contact your local Vermeer dealer or Vermeer at HDDcircuit@vermeer.com for more information about the next training session.