Underground Construction - June 2017 - 31
Blokker said the seasons impact
locates in Canada.
"In winter, work slows and locating organizations have to lay
off workers," he explained. "Then
when spring comes, it takes them
a while to gear up. If a project plan
doesn't show locations of utilities,
we have to go back to the owner.
It's taking too long to get locates -
that's our biggest concern."
One suggested solution was to
more aggressively hold the parties
at fault accountable when locates
aren't made accurately or on time.
A member of the audience mentioned Common Ground Alliance
D.I.R.T. reports as a resource. Indeed, D.I.R.T reports gather vital
information that identifies root
causes of accidental utility strikes.
While important, the panelists' directed their comments to immediate issues and solutions which, in
time, D.I.R.T information should
Project specifications and the bidding process drew attention from
the panel and members of the audience, as well. There was general
agreement that contractor input
could help project owners avoid
writing into project specifications
requirements that will be difficult
or impossible to accomplish.
"Contractor involvement often could avoid designs where a
product simply can't be put where
the project owner wants it," said
Graff agreed, and added that the
experience of a company and its
crews should be a factor in the bidding process, and who is awarded
"Also," he said, "customers often
don't understand how various soils
can affect the cost of a project, and
contractors can help them understand that."
It was suggested it would be
helpful for HDD contractors to
have an engineer on staff, or access
to an engineer, who could represent their interests.
Blocker of Avertex Utility Solutions said his company has the caJune 2017 Underground Construction
pability of providing engineering,
as well as constructing projects,
and that is a valuable asset.
However, the panel agreed the
cost of a staff engineer is something most contractors cannot
The lack of a unified voice representing the HDD industry was discussed at length.
Graff noted that while there is
no "HDD" association, there are
industry organizations representing utility and pipeline construction that do promote the benefits
and interests of HDD.
"For any industry association
to be effective, it must have the
support of the members it represents," said Graff. "Many smaller
HDD contractors don't have the
time be active with associations.
It would take the support of larger
contractors and suppliers to make
an HDD association work."
Blokker said an effort had been
made in Canada to launch such an
organization, but it was difficult
to find prospective members who
would support it.
"It takes time," said Blokker,
"and I speak from experience. I'm
on the board of a national industry
association, and to be committed to an industry association is
very time consuming, something
small contractors find difficult to
"Our effort in Canada needed
someone to step up and take it
to the next level," he said. "To be
effective, I believe an industry association needs a paid executive,
in most cases. Volunteer members
do not have time to manage an
However, both panelists and
several audience members observed that an HDD advocate association, or at least increased HDD
representation by existing associations, is needed to address the
needs of the drilling industry.
The next HDD Roundtable will
be held at UCT 2018, Jan. 30 Feb. 1, in New Orleans.
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