How do you really upset a driller? Columnist Simon Fitzgerald claims that you simply tell him he is required to fill out some additional forms/reports each week.

How do you really upset a driller? Tell him he is required to fill out some additional forms/reports each week!

The reaction is pretty well guaranteed, and understandable if you've ever worked a 10-or 12-hour shift on a drill rig - irrespective of the location.

In some sectors of our industry, the Daily Drill Log is a very crucial document, used to raise an invoice to the client for services completed. In other cases, reports on repairs and maintenance, inventory levels, etc. are less critical, but nonetheless just as important.

Paperwork is simply a formal method of communication, yet many drillers display negative reactions to "excessive reports and forms" of any kind - except for their time sheet and weekly meters drilled!

Why is this so? What can you do about it?

Firstly, if any of us were asked to write down what we had achieved for the day (and it had an effect on our remuneration) we might well react the same as the drillers do, especially if it had to be completed before we knocked off for the day.

Secondly, I wonder how many drillers feel that constant reports on R & M, safety, inventory, etc. suggests that their employer doesn't trust them to do their job properly. Furthermore, how many drillers feel they are expected to complete an excessive quantity of reports, yet justification is rarely explained, nor do they receive any feedback.

Reports come in two basic varieties - those required by the client and those required by the employer.

Client Reports

The most common document in this category is the Daily Drill Log, which is a statutory requirement in most cases. This piece of paper confirms "what went on during shift," and describes nature and particulars of the work carried out. Daily Drill Logs are a legal document, so the information must be legible and factual. Under no circumstances should the driller/supervisor note anything which is speculative or questionable to protect the contractor from possible liability (and loss of income if a dispute arises!) It is important to remember there are a myriad of variables available to Mother Nature over which the client's engineer/geologist, nor we have very little control!

I have found the most effective way of convincing a driller of the importance of an accurate Daily Log is to show him how an invoice is constructed, assuming he has a copy of the contract and relevant drilling rates and additional charges that apply.

Some employers may be reluctant to issue their drillers copies of contracts, so you may wish to "white out" certain key details (such as the client's name and location of the job, etc.) to protect your interests. In most cases, the driller hasn't set the prices, but he is responsible for drilling the hole, not you!

To test their understanding, describe a situation which you have deduced from a Daily Log, then ask him or her to write out the Log to substantiate the story. While the information may well be factual, it is surprising how many different scenarios can be construed from the same Log, especially if certain key details are missing or only partly complete.

For example, in mineral exploration, the client often supplies PVC casing, and when stocks run out there is frequently a bun-fight as to whose responsibility it is. Whilst the log will usually indicate what's been used on each hole (i.e. Casing - 2 x 6m PVC) the driller may be able to circumvent the shortage of essential supplies by adding the words "client supplied" after quantity utilized to alert the client that materials are running down.

Note: The words "client supplied" will also help minimize the risk of the client being charged for something inappropriately.

Similarly, some items or services may not be charged by the hour, (e.g. survey shots, moving from hole to hole, etc.) but it is essential that the driller identify the actual time taken because these charges are usually based on expected average times and the operations manager will be interested to know if his assumptions were correct.

Completing internal reports is another matter, but equally important. As with Daily Drill Logs, show each driller what the information is used for and give them regular feedback to demonstrate their input is being taken seriously and acted upon!

Secondly, design forms that are easy to complete where additional explanations are only required if necessary. Forms that look impressive will be worthless if the information isn't useful.

As a result, I am a strong believer in the concept of reporting by exception because two- or three-page reports containing screeds of information can sometimes disguise the gist of the message. Brevity is the key to all field reports, where a little "totally accurate" information is far more valuable than 10 pages of rhetoric.

Another useful strategy is to spread out the "due dates" of reports, rather than expect them all at the end of each month.

In summary, the following three tips will go a long way to assisting drillers and supervisors to submit meaningful reports on time:

  • Explain the relevance and value of each report to the operation.
  • Give regular feedback to show that action is happening.
  • Design reports utilizing the KISS principle.