With the race to get fiber to everyone’s doorstep, replacing aging utilities and new installs using trenchless technology has the horizontal directional drill (HDD) industry booming. For many contractors, the only thing standing in their way from real growth is finding qualified employees. The industry needs more trained operators, which is exactly what the Vermeer HDD Circuit® training program is designed to do.
About the program
The Vermeer HDD Circuit training program is designed to help HDD companies, large and small, develop their employees’ operating expertise quickly. The two-week program pairs eight students with four full-time Vermeer instructors who will train them on HDD skills involving operation, locating, bore planning, mud mixing, vacuum excavation, daily machine maintenance and safety.
During the two weeks, students will spend 72 percent of their time in the field drilling, locating and performing everyday duties of an HDD crew. The other 18 percent is spent in the classroom learning about different fluid mixing additives, necessary calculations, safety, tooling and other essential topics.
The program started in 2016 and has since held 15 sessions and trained more than 100 drillers. According to Dan Vroom, customer training lead at Vermeer, the program was designed to focus on the specific needs of each student going through the program, which is why they have a two-to-one student-to-teacher ratio.
“Everyone going through the class has varying knowledge and experience, and our goal is to identify the areas where an individual needs help and bring them to a higher level of expertise,” Vroom explained. “We place a big emphasis on cross-training. It’s important for productivity to have crew members that can quickly jump into another role when needed.”
Looking at the numbers
Vroom said they have had students from all over the globe from more than 40 different HDD companies. “Around 60 percent of the students we have trained did not have any operator experience before taking the class,” he said. “The thorough, two-week course gave them hands-on time and classroom knowledge they needed to reach the same level as many two-year drill operators. That statistic alone makes the program a worthwhile investment for contractors.”
This isn’t a class that is only for new members of the workforce. More than four generations of drillers have gone through the program with the range of 20-40 years old representing the largest group.
To provide a good gauge of how far a student has come from start to finish, they are assessed on their HDD knowledge on the first day, and then again evaluated on the last day to determine how much they have improved. “We’ve had students score a 31 percent on their first day and an 89 on their last day,” explained Vroom.
Students who successfully pass the course will receive HDD certification from Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). The Vermeer HDD Circuit program is the only accredited program of its kind in the United States.
Want to learn more
If you are interested in learning more about the Vermeer HDD Circuit training program for yourself or an employee, contact your local Vermeer dealer or email the Vermeer training team at [email protected].