24th Jun 2020
They are called HDD tooling specialists for a reason. They are experts in all areas of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) — from bore planning and drilling fluid recommendations to crew training and equipment performance optimization — but it’s their knowledge of HDD tooling that makes them truly invaluable to crews across North America. After all, boring with inexact tooling can hinder drilling time and productivity, while also causing unnecessary wear and tear to your tooling and equipment.
“Where I can help is setting customers up with the right tooling to do a job they thought they needed to buy a great big rig for, and to do it in such a way that they can use the equipment they have,” said Robert Dalgleish, HDD tooling specialist from Vermeer Canada. “We can help them be productive and minimize wear on their tooling.”
HDD operators must consider a range of variables when selecting the optimal tooling for a bore. It starts with ground conditions. Are you drilling through sand, silt, cobble, shale, clay or rock? One way to determine exactly what type of soil you’re dealing with is to shovel a few scoops into a bucket and add some water to it.
“When it comes to tooling, I ask, ‘What kind of ground conditions are you in?’” said Caleb Castilleja, HDD tooling specialist from Vermeer Texas-Louisiana. “’What kind of mud are you using? How many gallons per minute are you pumping?’ These factors help determine the right tooling for the bore.”
Of course, knowing the right tooling for the job won’t get HDD operators very far if that tooling is unavailable. Castilleja said his customers know to call him any time they are lacking the tooling they need to get the job done. Like many HDD tooling specialists, he drives a Vermeer HDD tooling van that’s stocked with most of the tooling and accessories needed for local bores.
“I carry products from the sub saver on down. Pullback grapples, reamers, carrots, shackles, slings, housings, bits. I make it a one-stop shop for customers,” Castilleja said. “That way, if I pull up on a jobsite and it’s a 911 issue, hopefully I can bail them out and get them going.”
John Fiddler, another HDD tooling specialist from Vermeer Texas-Louisiana, said this convenience is available to all HDD contractors in his area.
“Even if a customer isn’t running Vermeer equipment, the great thing about tooling — or drilling fluids and locators — is it’s all universal, so we can support them in the field,” Fiddler said.
It’s this universal nature of tooling, combined with the countless options, that makes the job so rewarding to Castilleja, who said there’s one important thing every HDD contractor needs to know about tooling.
“There’s always a piece of tooling for your job; don’t think you have to use what you used on the last job,” Castilleja said. “Take time to assess where you’re working and make sure you’re not working against yourself when you haven’t put the right tooling on your machine to be as successful as possible.”
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