posted by Rod McCoremick, Blog author, Fordia Powered by Epiroc
February 22, 2021
Finding reliable staff in the diamond drilling industry has always been a challenge. Many of the challenges we hear about from our customers involve problems with training. Some prominent drilling companies are investing in training of upwards of 100 employees per month and only end up with 10% of them moving the next phase of training.
In Canada and some other countries, helpers require a minimum of training modules to be allowed on site. These basic modules would include basic requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE), an understanding of hand tools found on the rig, working safely around a diamond drill, how to check, maintain and store equipment, how to avoid fire hazards and an awareness of the dangers of moving equipment, including the hoist cables. In addition, they should be aware of the dangers of the weather including extreme cold and hot conditions as well as other climate conditions such as altitude.
It can be tough to identify who has what it takes to become a good diamond driller. You may want to check out a blog a while back on that topic to help you focus your efforts. The problem remains that even once you find staff, there is a lot of training that should be done on-site. New helpers still have a lot to learn. On-site training can be divided into several categories and each of these will help prepare a new helper understand the whole drilling process as he moves towards becoming a driller.
Safety and clothing
Beyond what was covered in the basic training modules mentioned above, new employees should know what you should wear and what you shouldn’t wear on a drill site. With surface drilling, crews are outside during heat and cold, sometimes in the same day. Insects, bugs, snakes and other wildlife can dictate what you will wear or pack with you for the day. Underground drillers also need to put serious thought into clothing. While working at the 4200 Level underground in January, a worker may need a parka for the jeep ride from the surface, but once at the drill, they will only need light coveralls to work in the drift at 28 degrees Celsius.
What to consider when choosing core bits
We’ve often said that choosing the right equipment will have a huge impact on drilling performance. Knowing what to consider when choosing a core bit is something every helper and driller should learn. There are many variables to consider and rock hardness is one of them. New helpers should know how to use tools like an etcher kit to determine rock hardness. We have a great guide on how to choose the right core bit. You can download it here.
Knowing how to take care of drill rods will enable drillers to drill with less hassle and fewer problems. Many of the problems associated with drill rods could be avoided with preventive measures. Simple maintenance can help you avoid problems such as thread galling, leaking drill rods, cracks, dents and other damage. Not only will training new helpers how to care for rods reduce potential damage, but it will also extend the life of the rods and keep operations from stalling. We’ve written a guide on how to maintain your drill rods.
Proper lubrication is another preventative measure that will save time and money in the long run. Helpers need to be trained on the right type of lubricant to use, where to use it and how often to reapply. They should also know the difference between the different types of lubricants, such as extreme pressure grease, thread compound and rod grease.
Core barrel maintenance
New helpers should have a thorough understanding of the tools and equipment for which they are responsible, such as the pumps, generators, mobile equipment, and hand tools. Training should ensure they are familiar with the individual pieces, their function and how they work together as part of the drilling process. The core barrel is an important part of this process because it is used to recover core. Wireline core barrels are the most commonly used today and consists of a double tube system with an inner tube and outer tube. Training should include proper maintenance of all these parts.
The head assembly is part of the inner tube of the core barrel. It is one of the more complex parts so helpers and new drillers should understand its role, the different parts of the head assembly and what each of them does. In this way, troubleshooting is easier if a problem arises. More importantly, knowing how moving parts work can help reduce safety risks. This blog describes the head assembly and all its parts in detail.
Not too long ago, bentonite was the only additive that was used on a drill site. Today, different polymers are on the market and having a mud program at your drill site can help not only improve productivity, it can also extend the life of your drilling equipment. New helpers should learn about which additives work best with specific ground conditions like sandy ground, clay and fractured ground. They should also know how to mix polymers properly and which tools they should have on hand. Making sure you achieve the right consistency is important and there are tricks on how to do this. This guide explains what to avoid.
For helpers, knowing all the parts and function of the equipment found on a diamond drill is the first step to becoming a competent driller. Over the last year, with COVID-19 changing the way everyone works, we have taken the opportunity to provide a lot of training online. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our technical support team to find out how you can learn and get training. If you have an issue you’re dealing with, we may have advice or a course that we can share with you. Our goal is to improve drilling performance.