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    Extending Natural Gas System to Fenelon Falls

    Dec/16/2019

    In 2018, Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. kicked off the lofty project of expanding its natural gas system to the Kawartha Lakes, Ontario villages of Fenelon Falls, Cameron and Cambray. The $47 million projects called for 46 kilometers (28 mi) of new pipeline to be laid over the next two years. However, before homeowners and businesses in the area can start using natural gas for heat, Aecon Utilities Inc. must first navigate the area’s challenging ground conditions and work around all the nearby lakes and waterways.

    Aecon Utilities, Ontario’s largest utility contractor, is who Enbridge Gas Distribution called when they first began to plan for this natural gas system expansion. Aecon has an impeccable reputation for their quality of work and on-time performance. On this project, the team would have to use a combination of open-cut and trenchless installation methods to install the new lines. The scenic lakes and varying soil conditions are what dictated which methods the team used on the pipeline’s larger mainlines. In the villages, Aecon would predominantly use horizontal directional drilling (HDD) methods.

    Fleet of drills

    Heading up all of Aecon’s directional drilling projects throughout Canada is Curt Falls, general manager of directional drills and hydrovacs. He started working in the field for Aecon Utilities in 2000 and has helped the organization grow and expand its HDD capabilities during his 18 years of service with the company. Currently, Falls has 33 HDD crews in the field operating drills ranging in size from 4,082.3 to 45,359.2 kilograms (9,000 to 100,000 lb), but the gas pipeline work happening around Fenelon Falls is one of the more challenging projects they are currently working on.

    “A large part of that job is being drilled, and the ground conditions are pretty challenging because one minute we’re in solid rock, then shale or clay,” Falls explained. “Those varying conditions make it hard to decide which drills we should be using. In the past, we typically would use our 45,359.2 kilograms (100,000 lb) drill with a mud motor to drill through the rock. However, it is a lot of muscle for gas lines that are 15 centimeters (6 inches) in diameter or smaller, but the ground conditions have always dictated what size machine a driller needs to use.”

    Discovering a new option

    Around the time that Aecon began planning for this gas pipeline project, Falls was talking to his local Vermeer Canada sales representative, Jeremy Snow, about the ground conditions on the project and a few other upcoming jobs that involved drilling in rocky conditions. During the conversation, Snow suggested that Aecon should consider using a dual rod drill and invited a few members of their team to visit a contractor in Kentucky using the new Vermeer D40x55DR S3 Navigator® horizontal directional drill.

    Using dual rods, the Vermeer D40x55DR S3 can work in a broad range of ground conditions, including rock, clay and loamy/dirt. The unit’s inner rod provides torque to the drill bit, while the outer rod offers steering capability and rotation torque for reaming. This setup delivers powerful downhole cutting action and can give contractors greater tooling flexibility than a drill equipped with a mud motor.

    “We were impressed when we saw the drill in action,” Falls explained. “It has the same size footprint as our Vermeer D40x55 S3 Navigator HDD, but can perform as well as larger drills in rocky conditions. I liked the idea of being able to use a smaller machine in rock because we can transfer everything we need on one trailer. We don’t get that option with larger HDD machines.”

    On the job

    When the members of the Aecon team returned home, they decided to invest in a Vermeer D40x55DR S3 dual rod drill and put it to work

    on the Fenelon Falls gas pipeline project. They purchased a Vermeer RH15 rock drill head to go along with it. Developed in conjunction with the dual rod drill, the RH15 drill head can handle 2033.7 Nm (1500 ft-lb) of inner rod torque for pilot bores without sacrificing steering ability — a combination not often found when using a mud motor.

    Aecon put their new dual rod drill to work this past summer and have been happy with its performance. “It is getting the job done no matter what ground conditions we’re in,” said Falls. Their drill crews are currently working on extending the main gas pipeline and will conquer the job of installing lines to homes and businesses in the three villages after that. Falls said they have planned to keep most of the drill shots to around 240 meters (787.4 feet) long. “After we complete the pilot bore, we’re making one or two passes with hole openers to stretch the hole to 30.5 centimeters (12 inches). Because there is such a variance in ground conditions, every bore is a little different. Sometimes, we can use a 30.5 centimeter (12 inch) hole opener and in some of the rocky grounds, we’re starting with a 25.4 centimeter (10 inch) hole opener and then making another pass with the larger model.”

    Crews are primarily using the RH15 rock drill head in rocky conditions and then swapping it out for a more traditional head in softer soils.

    Stepping it up

    After working their Vermeer D40x55DR S3 for a few months, Falls and his team determined on-the-job production rates of the rig warranted adding a second unit. “We had the opportunity to pick up a second dual rod drill and given the efficiency we saw with the first one, it just made sense. Given the terrain we work in, there aren’t too many projects that we don’t need to drill in rocky soil conditions.”

    Aecon’s second dual rod drill was also put to work on the Fenelon Falls gas expansion project. Falls said having the second basket of dual rods has also come in handy. “We ordered 228.6 meters (750 feet) of rod for each machine and depending on where we’re drilling, that’s usually enough for each bore,” he said. “However, we did wind up having to do one bore that was 400 meters (1,312.3 feet) long. The crew was going under a waterway and to put the tie-in in a good location, we needed to go a bit longer than normal. Drilling it was efficient since we could borrow a few rods from the other machine. Our guys did a great job on that one.”

    Making progress

    After the main gas distribution line reaches the villages of Fenelon Falls, Cameron and Cambray, Aecon will begin the work of installing service lines to homes and businesses in those communities. This is the final step of the Enbridge project. Falls is pleased with the work his team has been able to accomplish in the first year of the project and is looking forward to the next phase.

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    This article contains third-party observations, advice or experiences that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vermeer Corporation, its affiliates or its dealers. Testimonials and/or endorsements by contractors in specific circumstances may not be representative of normal circumstances experienced by all customers.

    Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.

    Vermeer, the Vermeer logo and Navigator are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries.

    © 2019 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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    Improve Efficiencies with HDD Productivity Tools

    Aug/01/2019

    Being the boss of a horizontal directional drilling (HDD) operation comes with a lot of responsibility. From making sure everyone is doing their job to securing work for the future, it’s a huge undertaking — and there never seems to be enough time to get it all done. While it’s impossible to create more hours in a day, there are productivity tools designed specifically for HDD contractors that can help you and your team to manage more jobs, more efficiently.

    Creating efficiencies

    Managing and growing your HDD operations comes down to creating efficiencies through each step of a project – from bidding, to preplanning, to drilling and remediation, to filing reports so you can finish the job. And since each phase of a job typically involves different people, keeping the team on the same page and minimizing redundancy is the key for being as efficient as possible.

    Kipp Ulferts, applications specialist for Vermeer Intelligent Worksite Solutions, said that from start to finish on HDD projects there can be redundancy from one phase to the next. “Within each stage of a job there is some level of planning involved,” he explained. “When bidding on a project, contractors need to create a bore plan that may account for significant elevation changes or contain potential obstacles like waterways, utilities and roadways. Details like distances, depths and the locations of potential obstacles are then often revisited during the pre-planning, potholing and drilling stages of job. Developing a bore plan early to be used as a road map throughout the process can help improve communications and help reduce amount of time spent planning from one stage of a project to the next— this is where productivity tools are helpful.”

    A tool for every phase

    Vermeer Projects software is a productivity tool developed specifically for HDD contractors. From bidding to delivering as-built

    bore profiles to the customer after a project is complete, Vermeer Projects can help improve communications through shared data and reduce many planning-related redundancies.

    You can collect, organize and share relevant job documentation via the cloud with Vermeer Projects during the bidding and initial planning phases. On the job, Vermeer Projects gives your crew leaders the ability to visually capture the jobsite, including intended bore path whiteline, marked utilities and pothole locations.

    Next, specify which drill model will be used on the job, and sync all the information with the drill rig’s onboard display for rod-by-rod drilling information on drills equipped with Vermeer BoreAssist. As the operator drills, the locator can track deviations from the bore plan within a supported drill head tracker. After completing the job, you can quickly print out or send as-built profiles to the customer.

    User tips

    Here are a few ways a productivity tool like Vermeer Projects can help your company be more efficient:

    • Bidding: Pull up a job’s GPS coordinates to get a better lay of the land and see roadways or natural landmarks. You should also plug bore details into the program to verify the allowable product bend radius is accurate.
    • Preplanning: Plot a bore’s path using either a locator equipped with GPS and a smartphone or a tablet with the app to map the bore as you walk it. Utility locations and depths can also be input with minimal measuring.
    • Drilling: Give crews rod-by-rod directions that are specific to the rig they are operating.
    • Invoicing: Email customers as-built bore profile information as a PDF so they have what they need to get your invoice processed in a timely manner.

    Achieving your goals

    Have you ever driven to a place you’ve never been to before without using a road map, smartphone or onboard GPS system? Without those tools, you likely made a few wrong turns and it took longer to get to your destination than it should have. Vermeer Projects can help you get to where you want to go as efficiently as possible.

    For more information about Vermeer Projects, talk to your local Vermeer dealer or visit Vermeer Store to learn more.

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    Vermeer productivity tools assist users with planning and management functions. Information provided is reliant upon the accuracy and quality of user-provided data.

    Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.

    Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries.

    © 2019 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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    Mud Matters: Using Drilling Fluids

    Jul/15/2019

    Many horizontal directional drill (HDD) operators have heard a story or two about someone completing a massive bore while drilling dry or using only water. Those stories may be true, but there can be many drawbacks to boring this way. Drilling dry or using water alone can slow drilling production, put a bore at risk of failure and lead to premature tooling wear.

    Drilling fluid or mud is a crucial ingredient to maximize an HDD crew’s efficiency and should be used whenever possible. It helps provide lubrication and cools downhole tooling and electronics, helps maintain the integrity of the bore path and flushes drill cuttings. Here’s an overview of a few of the issues you may encounter without using mud.

    Drilling dry

    “In ideal ground conditions, performing short, small-diameter bores without any fluid is possible,” explained Tod Michael, product manager for the trenchless core products at Vermeer. “However, even in these conditions, drilling dry will typically require rotation speeds and production rates to slow. There is also a lot more friction downhole, which can cause tooling to heat up. The extra heat can potentially damage the drill head and sonde.”

    Over time, the lack of drilling fluid can lead to premature wear to the drilling head and drill pipe. It can also put unnecessary strain on the product being pulled back. “Just using a little bit of drilling fluid in ideal ground conditions can go a long way to help keep up production rates and help contractors maximize the life of their tooling,” added Michael.

    Water only

    Probably more common than drilling dry, contractors will skip using bentonite or polymer and only run water through the drill string. Michael said this is a better option than using nothing at all, but there can be risks involved with this approach. “Crews doing just a pilot bore and then pulling back small-diameter product can get by with this in loamy clay soils, since those situations are a lot more forgiving,” he explained. “However, using drilling fluid with the right additive can help limit the risk of the hole collapsing.”

    Water offers very little lubrication, which means there is more drag and friction on drill rods and the drill head. “Adding some type of additive to the water will help reduce the risk of premature tooling wear,” Michael said.

    Also, water lacks the viscosity to maintain hole integrity or float drill cuttings out of the hole.

    Mix it up

    There are numerous benefits to using drilling fluid with every bore, but to get the maximum benefit from the additives, it should be adequately mixed. “Whether contractors are buying bags of bentonite or have made the switch to liquid drilling additives in pouches, using a mixing system is crucial,” said Michael. “With powders, you can see if an additive hasn’t been properly mixed. However, with the newest prepackaged liquid concentrate additives, sometimes people think they can pour it into the water tank with minimal stirring. Proper mixing and testing of your fluids should still be done for the best results.”

    To help with the mixing process, Vermeer offers several mix systems, appropriately sized for the directional drill your crew is running. The latest addition to the line is the Vermeer MX300 mixing system, and it features a redesigned, slim rectangular profile tank and a power unit that can be paired with up to two tanks at one time to help decrease the time spent refilling fluid tanks.

    To drill as efficiently as possible and get the efficient performance from your downhole tooling, use drilling fluids. Also, if you need a little help educating your team about the proper ways to mix drilling fluids, check out the article "Making Sense of HDD Drilling Fluids."

    For more information about the Vermeer MX300 mixing system, talk to your local Vermeer dealer.

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    Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in product engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing or distribution at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.

    Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries.

    © 2019 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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    The Right Tooling Makes a Difference on the HDD Jobsite

    Jun/24/2019

    Match bits and power to drilling conditions to help maximize jobsite effectiveness

    Getting the job done right can depend on having the right tools, especially in rock drilling.

    The structural integrity of a bore and the productivity and efficiency of rock drilling operations therein can depend on knowing your conditions and pairing the right machine and tooling to those conditions. Different projects are made up of different materials that can challenge both the effectiveness and steerability of a bore.

    Variability challenges

    The soil, sand and rock formations of projects that a drill operator will encounter can be highly variable. These different formations call for different tooling: a bit designed for compacted soil may not perform as well in cobbled or solid rock formations, and bits made for hard rock may not handle soil very well.

    Conditions can change quickly, so it is important to be attentive to the conditions in which you’re drilling, and to apply the right amount of power to the right material with the right tooling and the right fluids for the job, according to Vermeer Product Specialist Joshua Spray.

    “A big challenge can be transitioning out of dirt into rock, then back into dirt,” Spray said. “Once you put certain rock tooling, like an air hammer, into dirt, you may have a difficult time because an air hammer is not meant to drill through that kind of soil. It’s like pushing a telephone pole through the dirt.”

    Planning your bore

    To better understand the specific characteristics of the downhole material of a project — whether that’s rock, clay, sand or a combination — it can be helpful to have core samples tested by a laboratory in which the material’s composition and abrasivity can be tested, helping you to select the right tooling. Past experience with a specific region’s subsoil conditions and composition is also important to account for in selecting the right tooling.

    “Knowledge of the conditions based off of past work done in an area can also be helpful in finding the right tooling for a job,” said Vermeer Lifecycle Product Manager Jason Zylstra. “Sometimes, you can get an idea of what your job will involve by understanding the conditions and area where a drilling has been done before. Local Vermeer representatives have a lot of knowledge about specific drilling conditions as well.”


    Different tooling options

    Boring through soil and sand, as well as rock — whether solid or cobbled — requires different tooling, which also can dictate the required pressure and cutting force of the selected bit. Some rock formations, like sandstone, are softer but have higher abrasivity, while others are harder but have lower abrasivity.

    With rock up to 10,000 psi (13,558.2 Nm), a conventional drill combined with different tooling options can offer flexibility. The Armor® drilling system from Vermeer includes different bit options that are specifically designed for a range of common conditions an operator may encounter. The Lance™ bit features a scoop design but has carbide buttons and hardfacing that helps enable it to perform in both hard soils and cobble. On the other end of the spectrum is the Gauntlet™ bit. With carbide hardfacing and buttons to help minimize wear resistance and replaceable carbide-tipped teeth for cutting, the Gauntlet bit is more suited to drilling in medium rock, shale or caliche ground conditions.

    Medium and harder rock formations, 10,000 psi (13,558.2 Nm) and up, may require one of several options beyond conventional drills and tooling. Air hammer, mud motor and dual rod (DR) machines like the Vermeer D40x55DR S3 Navigator® horizontal directional drill offer high pressure capacity and tooling that can handle both hard formations and those with high abrasivity.

    Tricone bits can be well-suited for fractured rock and function well in a wide variety of conditions in a mud motor or dual rod system. Polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits use synthetic diamonds on the cutting edge that make them well-suited to hard, solid rock but may not work as well in fractured conditions.

    Matching the right bit type to your material and conditions is important, but so too is operating with the right speed and pressure to enable the selected bit to function optimally. “Regardless of the bit type you choose to operate, it is very important to know how to manage rotation speed and torque, as well as thrust, to help maximize your productivity on the jobsite,” Spray said.

    Learn more about your options and find the right tooling for your next HDD job at borestore.com.

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    Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in product engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing or distribution at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region.

    Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.

    Vermeer, the Vermeer logo, Armor, Lance, Gauntlet and Navigator are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries.

    © 2019 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.