In this article, you'll learn how drilling demonstrations and events can help to pass drilling know-how to both well drillers and support staff.

How do we transfer knowledge and valuable experience to new people in the industry? The better question is, what are you doing to help transfer knowledge to the next generation of water well drillers and support staff, such as state and local regulators? We are a very tribal industry that passes information on while the task is completed. The only way you learn is in the field on a rig.

However, what about the support staff in our industry? An automotive engineer drives his company vehicle to work every day. A police officer spends months observing on a ride along. We expect engineers of drill rigs to get all the experience they need on a test rack at their manufacturing facility. Moreover, we expect water well regulators to inspect a completed jobsite directly from the rule book. There is nothing better than several days of on-the-job experience. Every industry professional should spend time in the field watching every step, from the rig arriving on the jobsite to the mast lowering at the end of the day. Often, support staff do not have the time, funds or a suitable job location to watch a well drilled from start to finish. Our state and national groundwater associations have developed summer demonstrations to help fix the problems of time and location. These events are the best place to share knowledge and help push the industry forward. Over the past five years, I have attended and hosted several events, and this is how to get the most out of your summer demonstration.

An Attendee’s Perspective

When participating in a drill demo, you should always have a goal in mind. The goal for the drillers and the pump setters is to leave the jobsite learning a few new techniques to improve your day-to-day business. Ask yourself, how can I make the job easier? Next, as a driller, you have the exclusive responsibility of seeking out a new attendee and sharing your on-the-job experience.

The engineer’s goal should be to understand the drilling process completely. You need to solve a problem or help improve the process: help the driller work smarter, not harder.

As a regulator, this is your free pass to observe as an attendee. Go stand on the rig platform, pull levers, ask as many questions to the manufacturers as possible. Grab a driller and follow the drilling process with them, question anything out of the ordinary and at the end of the day trade contact information. Your goal is to leave with a new colleague and resource you can contact to ask more questions and share experiences. The attendee can only achieve his or her goals by watching a drilling demonstration done by the book. The host has to plan a proper event that can be successful.

A Host’s Perspective

Two of the best demonstrations I participated in this year were the Kansas Ground Water Association water well demo and the Valley Farms Supply demo in Lansing, Mich. Both of these demos were open to everyone involved in the industry, bringing together engineers, regulators, pump setters and drillers. These events were a success because the host outlined and planned every step. Each location drilled and logged a test hole several months before the big day to be properly prepared. Next, they teamed up manufacturers and suppliers that supported the demonstration by teaching and supplying all the components needed to complete the job. Kansas and Michigan had successful demos because they properly planned for every possible outcome.

Kansas Ground Water Association: Spring Seminar

The seminar was held in Abilene, Kan., at the Brown Memorial Boy Scout Camp and was one of the best I’ve ever attended. The demonstration had three purposes in mind: first to provide continuing education for any member still seeking CEUs, second to invite every state and local regulator available in Kansas, and third to drill a new water well for the Boy Scout Camp. The seminar demonstrated how to drill with conventional mud rotary utilizing a solids control unit. The well was drilled and completed in four hours, showing how to set screen/casing, install gravel pack, grout, and to properly develop a new well. Despite the nonstop rain, the demonstration was flawless. This could not have happened without the help of Baroid IDP, Roberts Supply, Franklin Electric, GEFCO, and the members and board of the Kansas Ground Water Association.

Valley Farms Supply Summer Demonstration: Clear Cased Well

It was very rewarding to be part of the Valley Farms Supply demo. Valley is a water well supplier headquartered in Lansing, Mich. The management at Valley Farms Supply wanted to host a demonstration that had never been done in the state of Michigan. The demonstration drilled a 100-foot hole into rock and installed clear casing. Next, the casing was sealed using a multi-column grouting method. The bottom 30 feet of the hole were cemented, per state groundwater regulation code. The next 50 feet were grouted with 20 percent solids inhibitive bentonite grout slurry. Finally, the hole was finished off with 20 feet of bentonite chip. The well was capped and is available anytime to utilize a downhole camera to view the bottom of the hole or multiple grout columns.

This concept took two years of planning and special permission by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. The second half of the demonstration taught attendees how to install a pitless adapter and submersible pump correctly. Fifty state and local water well regulators attended, along with another 50 drillers and pump setters. The day was a great success because Valley Farms Supply, along with Baroid IDP, GEFCO, Franklin Electric and several water well drillers, carefully planned every step of the project. The clear-cased well will be used for education and testing for many years to come. Look for the downhole videos of multi-column grouting to be available in the next few months.

If we do not pass down our practical field knowledge to our engineers and regulators, then they cannot grow with us.

The Kansas and Valley demonstrations had a perfect blend of industry professionals. Drillers and regulators observed, discussed and learned new techniques together. I have heard of many other successful events throughout the country; these were my two favorites. I want to challenge the industry to develop new topics for live demonstrations. Let us get past the fundamental stages of setting a rig up and drilling 40 feet with a mud pan and de-sanding cone. Create a new demo utilizing the latest technologies, techniques and methods. My colleagues at Baroid IDP, Franklin Electric, GEFCO, and drilling supply houses are available and willing to be part of education events. Any company you are comfortable with will be eager to be part of your event because this is the best way for us to share knowledge, test new technology and grow.

The most important goal of any event is to share knowledge and promote best practices. The groundwater and drilling industry has to recognize that we are very tribal with the way we get the job done. We keep our methods for success within our tribe, and that creates a problem for industry support staff. If we do not pass down our practical field knowledge to our engineers and regulators, then they cannot grow with us. We continue to be stuck in a loop expecting new technology and better regulations just to appear without candid feedback. The best part about these demonstrations this spring and summer was watching the attendees eat lunch together and share field experiences together. Make a new industry friend and share your experiences and together, and we can break the tribal knowledge loop.