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Bore planning Archives

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    Diligent Bore Planning Can Help Prevent Utility Strikes


    It’s getting crowded out there! From small fiberoptics and cable TV lines to larger water, gas and wastewater pipelines, there’s a significant amount of buried infrastructure to avoid while installing underground utilities. Those busy underground rights of way make diligent bore planning more important than ever to help prevent utility strikes.

    Bore planning steps

    According to Kipp Ulferts, applications specialist for Vermeer Intelligent Worksite Solutions, for many smaller diameter installs at short distances, bore planning may involve calling in locates, daylighting all existing utilities, walking the bore path, and then creating a bore plan. However, for larger projects at greater distances and in areas where there are several utilities nearby, he recommends incorporating planning tools like Vermeer Projects software.

    “Planning needs to start with mapping out a bore path or white lining that includes target depths and accounts for product bend tolerances. This information will help a contractor determine and negotiate entrance and exit points,” Ulferts said.

    The next step is to call in locates, followed by visual verification of all the utilities along the bore path. Ulferts recommends adding the GPS coordinates and depths of all of the services to the pre-bore plan. “Larger jobs take longer, and there are usually a lot of considerations involved, so it’s important to have documentation that notes everything that’s in the ground.”

    After existing utilities are noted, the bore path should be reviewed and revised to help verify there is proper clearance between the product being installed and what’s already in the ground. “When looking at the distance of allowable space between utilities, contractors have to make sure they’ve given themselves enough space for reaming. In many soil conditions, the weight of the reamer can cause the depth of the bore hole to drop a bit.”

    Once everything is adjusted, it’s time to share the bore plan with all the responsible parties on the job, including the crew that will be working the project. The bore plan developed will be their roadmap for the install.

    During the bore

    Planning doesn’t stop when the work starts, though. To help avoid utility strikes, crew members need to be paying attention to the bore plan closely during the bore and keep track of bore depths. Tracking depths manually with a logbook is one way of doing it. However, crews using Vermeer Projects and a supported DCI® DigiTrak FalconTM receiver can keep track of it all through an onboard DigiTrak® Aurora® display with Vermeer BoreAssist. From the operator seat, bore plans can be viewed and adjusted right from the display. Also, with DCI Log-While-Drilling (LWDTM) Live, the crew can compare real-time drill head tracking with the bore plan.

    Ulferts also recommends noting the location of landmarks around the area at the time of the bore to help with locating buried utilities in the future. “Over time, things above ground can change dramatically, but what’s underground remains unchanged. However, capturing the distance between a landmark that is unlikely to change in the near future and the utility can help someone find it in the future,” he explained.

    Documenting it all

    Planning is not done yet. After the bore is completed, it’s time to compare and update the bore plan with as-built information. “Many utility companies require contractors to provide as-built bore profiles because it will help with future expansions or replacements,” said Ulferts. “As-built information will also help another contractor out as he or she is planning to install product in the same area. Detailed documentation now can help reduce the number of utility strikes in the future.”

    Easing the process

    Planning before, during and after a project is complete is vital to helping avoid utility strikes. The process outlined above doesn’t have to be labor-intensive, though. Vermeer Projects makes it convenient to create a bore plan, capture GPS coordinates of existing utilities, as well as add depths and calculate allowable space between services. Reports from Vermeer Projects are also convenient to share.

    On the drill, operators can select the model they are running and follow the rod-by-rod directions from an onboard display. Meanwhile, the locator’s marked points throughout the bore can be quickly uploaded to the Vermeer Projects cloud.

    Afterward, pre-bore and as-built data can be merged with all other relevant bore details, including noted landmark photos. It will be stored within the system and can also be shared with others.

    To get started with Vermeer Projects, contact your local Vermeer dealer.


    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 and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. DCI, DigiTrak, Aurora and LWD are trademarks of Digital Control Incorporated.

    © 2019 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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    Miller Pipeline Helps Customers Plan for the Future


    If there’s one thing the people who work at Miller Pipeline know, it’s that nothing stands in the way of progress. Throughout the 65 years the company has been in business, Miller Pipeline has been at the forefront of building and maintaining America’s infrastructure — performing everything from pipeline construction to rehabilitation services for natural gas, liquids, water and wastewater. The need to build, expand, repair and relocate utilities has led to Miller Pipeline growing from a small family-owned business to a company of 3,000 employees with offices in over 20 states. And, the key driver of that growth is their customers' pursuit of progress.

    In Miller Pipeline’s early days, the installation of gas transmission pipelines drove the business. While gas transmission is still a significant part of the work the company does, helping natural gas customers maintain their underground network of pipelines represents a substantial portion of their business now.

    “As pipelines age and cities expand, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to support our natural gas utility customers,” said John Gregor, horizontal directional drilling manager for Miller Pipeline. “I believe a major reason why our customers choose to work with us is that we’re a company that embraces and expects progress. We’ve demonstrated that by the machinery and methods of installation that we perform, the tools we use to assist crews and the way we work with customers to plan for future growth of their own.”

    What Gregor is referring to is Miller Pipeline’s commitment to being an early-adopter with many of the latest industry technologies and making investments to better understand how new technology can benefit their customers. “We got into horizontal directional drilling early because we recognized the immediate benefits,” he said. “Now, we operate an extensive network of horizontal directional drilling crews. And, as the HDD market has matured, we’ve been quick to embrace many of the tools that can help us plan better and avoid other buried utilities.”

    Adopting HDD planning tools

    Gregor and his team initially started bore planning many years ago using the Vermeer Atlas Bore Planner® computer software system. Also, when Vermeer Projects Suite was introduced, Miller Pipeline was one of the first to try out the new system. “Bore planning software and hardware have come a long way from those early days,” said Gregor. “The tools available today not only simplify the process of planning a bore, but it also makes it much easier to give a customer as-built information when a job is complete.”

    Many of Miller Pipeline’s gas distribution teams use the Vermeer Projects productivity tools in the field for planning and for creating as-built bore profiles for customers. “A significant amount of our customers are required to keep as-built information on file, which means our team is required to create bore profiles,” Gregor said. “The old way of doing it with a measuring wheel and record book, and then having to input into a CAD program — it was time-consuming and not as accurate as the new technology.”

    “With a mobile phone or tablet running the Vermeer Projects app and the Trimble R1 GNSS receiver, our guys can walk the bore path, insert tie-down points of reference, insert depth information and mark the location of other utilities in the fraction of that time. Then they can give our customers as-built information in any format requested,” continued Gregor.

    Bore planning

    Gregor estimates that his team has created hundreds of as-built bore profiles since starting to use Vermeer Projects productivity tools.

    He also personally uses Vermeer Projects during the bore planning process. “Most of the time, our utility customers will provide us with a bore plan before a project starts, but there are a few customers that rely on my team to create the plan,” he explained. “In either case, Vermeer Projects comes in handy because we can walk the bore path with either a locator equipped with GPS and a smartphone or tablet with the app to map the bore. During that process, we verify rod-by-rod radius and mark any located utilities. From there, if a plan has to change, we can provide detailed information about why a plan needs to be adjusted. Also, it helps our bore crews because they have easy-to-read rod-by-rod information to help them as they execute the bore.”

    As-built documentation process

    Hunter Miller is a construction assistant with Miller Pipeline working out of the company’s Denver, North Carolina, office, and it’s his job to assist several major natural gas utility companies in the area and drill supervisors overseeing installation work. Miller has been with the company for just over three years, and in that time has been one of the primary people, along with co-worker Greg Moore, documenting as-built bore profile information.

    “It’s our policy to capture data for any bore over 100 feet (30.5 m) or any bore that crosses a state road,” said Miller. “As of now about half of our natural gas utility companies are asking for the information, but we expect that number to increase as more become aware of the capabilities of new technology we use, like Vermeer Projects.”

    With more than 25 crews working out of the Denver, North Carolina, location and many more Miller Pipeline teams working around the region, Miller and Moore are responsible for documenting a lot of bores. “We like to try to get to a site before a bore is complete, but that’s not always possible,” explained Miller. “So, we will often stop by a jobsite soon afterward to document the information. The process is pretty straightforward. We use a tablet and a Trimble R1 receiver to walk the path and insert utility depths for the bore profile. We will also make notes where a bore intersects with another utility and the depth of the existing utility.”

    Using the captured GPS information, Miller will then use Google topography to create as-built bore profiles. From there, the bore profiles are stored in Miller Pipeline’s system and provided to the customer.

    Resources for future planning

    “Having the GPS location of the pipelines for our customers is a huge benefit for them and other utility contractors,” explained Miller. “Utility strikes involving natural gas lines, high-voltage power and even fiberoptics can be disastrous. Having the ability to locate buried utilities using GPS will help avoid strikes in the future. It will also help when a line needs to be relocated or repaired.”

    On the topic of relocating utilities, Miller said their crews in the area have recently seen a lot of gas lines being moved because of expanding roadways. On one recent project in Concord, North Carolina, he was called out to create the as-built bore profile as gas lines were being moved for a road-widening project. “The area around the local hospital will likely continue to see growth, so to help crews working in the area in the future we also included tie-down information in our as-built documents,” he explained. “We try to do this in areas where there are several utilities and future growth is expected. With that information, they can measure the distance from a tie-down to find the location of the buried utility. It’s easy to enter this type of information into the Vermeer Projects app, and we know it will either help us or another utility contractor in the future.”

    Future of bore mapping

    As an early adopter of the latest industry technology, Gregor and Miller both agree that the usage of bore planning and mapping tools like Vermeer Projects productivity tools can be extremely useful for utility contractors to integrate into their operations. To help streamline the way their company is collecting GPS information, Miller Pipeline is in the process of upgrading its crews to HDD locating equipment to the Falcon F5® locating system with built-in GPS. Soon, crews will be able to transmit GPS coordinates, depths, tie-downs and the specific coordinates of nearby utilities while the job is happening. The captured information can then be uploaded into Vermeer Projects where it can be altered and shared with a customer either from a computer, smartphone or tablet.

    “As more utility companies incorporate this type of technology into their business, there’s just no telling what the future of the underground construction market can look like,” said Miller. “We’ll be able to do a better job of planning for new projects, be able to better track the age and condition of existing utility and reduce the risks of hitting buried utilities.”


    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, Navigator and Atlas Bore Planner are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. DigiTrack and Falcon F5 are trademarks of Digital Control, Inc. Trimble is a trademark of Trimble, Inc. Google is a trademark of Google, LLC.

    © 2019 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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    Improve Efficiencies with HDD Productivity Tools


    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.


    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.