Tag Archive for 'Utility construction'

ICUEE Adds New Chair and Vice-Chair for 2021

ICUEE – The Demo Expo announced that Dave Hughes, vice president of global sales for McElroy Manufacturing, Inc., has been named 2021 show chair. He will be leading the ICUEE management committee, a volunteer group of utility construction industry executives for overall show planning. 

ICUEE, or the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition, is the largest of its kind, known for the invaluable and numerous interactive product demonstrations that take place over the 3-day show. The biennial show last took place in 2019 and is set to reopen September 28 – 30, 2021.

“AEM is more than pleased to have Dave on board as the new chair for ICUEE 2021. His expertise and participation will be incredibly valuable to our team as we continue to work towards our goals for 2021. We know that Dave and the rest of our management committee all have a great vision of what ICUEE can and will be and we look forward to announcing some exciting changes in the coming year,” said ICUEE Show Director John Rozum.

“I am extremely pleased to accept this position for the 2021 show. I know that everyone on the committee is dedicated to best serving industry professionals by providing an interactive and valuable experience at ICUEE,” said Hughes.

Dave lives in Tulsa, OK and is married to Michele whom they have three children together. He attended the University of Oklahoma where he received his degree in Accounting and earned an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. Dave has served in many capacities at McElroy since joining in 2001. He is also the President and COO of Southern Specialties (SSC) based in Tulsa, OK.  

Hughes is returning to the ICUEE management committee as he served as the 2019 vice chair. 

He is also very active in Young President’s Organization (YPO) and has served his Tulsa Chapter in all of its major offices, including Chairman

ICUEE 2021 Also Names Show Vice Chair and Management Committee

Serving as vice chair of the ICUEE 2021 Management Committee is Julie Fuller, vice president of engineering, marketing and purchasing for Tadano Mantis Corporation. 

Here is the full roster of the ICUEE 2020 Management Committee.

  • Chris Brahler, President and CEO, TT Technologies Inc
  • Joe Caywood, Director of Marketing & Product Management, Terex Corporation
  • Andrew Christopher, Director, Corporate Business Division, John Deere Construction & Forestry
  • Mark Core, Executive Vice President & CMO, Vermeer Corporation
  • Bruce Farrar, Director – Industrial OEM Sales & Support, Cummins
  • Alessandro Ferrari, VP Sales, Prinoth
  • Jim Glazer, President, Elliott Equipment Company
  • Brian Metcalf, CEO, Ring-O-Matic
  • Sam Miceli, VP and GM, Vactor
  • Laura Ness Owens, VP Marketing, Doosan Bobcat
  • Bob Pettit, CEO, HAWE Hydraulics
  • Mike Popovich, VP Sales & Marketing – Excavators, Vacall/Gradall Industries Inc.
  • Jim Rauckman, Managing Member, Rauckman Utility Products
  • Mark Regan, Director of Sales, NA, Versalift
  • Kevin Smith, President, Hammerhead
  • Grant Williams, Marketing Campaign Manager, Altec Industries Inc.

ICUEE is the leading event for utility professionals and construction contractors seeking comprehensive insights into the latest industry technologies, innovations and trends.

Are You Making These Mud Mistakes?

By Jeri Lamerton, Principal and Consultant, Lamerton Strategic Communications

In the 1970’s, horizontal directional drilling (HDD) was a lot of trial and error. It was new territory, successful only because of the grit and determination of a few early pioneers. Today, the industry has had more than 40 years to perfect the process. Technological innovations have improved performance while decades of experience has led to best practices universally accepted by underground professionals. Why then, is drilling fluid still getting short-changed?

“I’m surprised at the number of operators who take chances with their jobs by ignoring best practices when it comes to mud,” says Joseph “Jody” Parrish, HDD Division Manager for ARB Underground in Lake Forest, California. “They’re taking big risks with their equipment and jobs.”

Parrish has 37 years of industry experience to back up his statement. He’s worked internationally, through some of the toughest conditions imaginable including an earthquake and the Artic in the winter. In 2009, he even headed up the longest underground bore project in Ecuador at the time.

ARB Underground in the Port of Los Angeles, California

“We don’t cut corners when it comes to drilling fluid,” he says. “It’s an easy way to manage risk.”

Like other HDD professionals, Parrish points out that drilling fluids help stabilize the borehole, suspend cuttings and carry them out of the hole much better than water alone. Without it, equipment can be damaged, boring efficiency is compromised, and the risk of frac-outs and other damage to the site is greatly increased. Unfortunately, the expense and perceived hassle of “doing it right” keeps some from following best practices. They routinely break four drilling fluid rules, perhaps not realizing the risks they are taking.

Designate a Mud Man

One common mistake HDD operators can make is not having a trained crewmember in charge of drilling fluid. It seems harmless to send a laborer to “top it off” when mud is running low, but this can actually sabotage your drilling progress.

In a typical bore, fluid returns are about 20 percent solids at any given point. Incorrectly mixed mud – that “topped off” by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing – runs a high risk of actually putting solids back into the hole, undoing any progress you’ve made. These additional solids can clog the annulus, wear out pump parts, cause a loss of torque, and causes an increase in torque and pullback pressures. This results in drill pipe getting stuck down hole and even lead to inadvertent returns. 

Have a Mud Engineer on Site

A mud engineer works hand-in-hand with a trained mud man. Often hired from a drilling fluid manufacturer, the mud engineer checks the fluid every hour or so, making sure the recycler is working correctly and the mud mix is still maximized for current conditions.

“A mud engineer knows the fluid,” says Wyo-Ben’s Tyson Smith, who has worked as a mud engineer on many of Parrish’s jobs. “We monitor the mud’s efficiency and make adjustments on-site so you can get the most performance out of your drill. For example, if an operator is experiencing a high amount of fluid loss, a mud engineer will know the correct polymer to add to the mix to solve the problem and keep the job running smoothly.”

Don’t Skimp on Your Mix

Some operators will “save money” by not using the proper fluid mix. For example, they skip adding soda ash to their make-up water. Soda ash lowers water’s hardness and increases its pH value to the levels needed for effective drilling fluid performance. Unfortunately, not adding soda ash to your water means you might need to use up to 50 percent more bentonite in your mix. With the cost of soda ash versus bentonite, this “money-saving” move actually costs more.

Costs can really add up when you “save money” by skipping other additives as well. Geotechnical conditions, not budgetary concerns, should always mandate what mix of drilling fluid to use. Without the proper mix, your equipment is working harder than it has to. This not only slows drilling, it increases the wear and tear on your tools and equipment, decreasing service life and causing breakdowns. 

“The maintenance costs, replacement costs, and job shut-down costs should be enough to get people to use the proper mix,” Parrish says. “You pay to add something like Uni-Drill to your mud, but you always get your money’s worth when you consider the costs of not using it.”

Parrish’s example – Uni-Drill – is a Wyo-Ben product that conditions drilling fluids to control fluid loss, prevent formation clays from swelling, and keep tools clean by preventing bit balling. The additive helps build viscosity and reduces drag and torque, helping your down-hole tools do their job more efficiently and effectively. 

Another ARB Underground project in Hermosa Beach, California

“Think of it as insurance,” Smith says, who cautions against using bentonite without the proper additives. “There are many great additives on the market for every condition you will encounter. Using the right product will increase the effectiveness of your fluid and save you money and heartache down the line.”

Don’t Overuse Your Mud

Some operators use mud far beyond its effectiveness. Reasons include the cost of disposal, the cost and hassle of mixing new mud and – to be honest – laziness. The problem is that when mud gets too heavy, it loses flow properties. This means you’re not getting cuttings back out of the hole like you should, which can lead to a variety of problems and delays including inadvertent returns. 

According to Parrish, 10 pounds is the rule at ARB Underground. Once the mud reaches this weight, they dispose of the mud and the on-site mud engineer determines the proper mix for a new batch. 

In the end, cutting corners simply doesn’t pay. With all that can go wrong on a jobsite, from equipment failure to hole collapses and more, “saving” on your mud can end up costing you instead. 

“I’ve heard that doing mud right is just too messy and expensive,” says Parrish. “But what’s really messy and expensive is having to tell the DOT you’ve buckled their highway because you didn’t have the right mix of drilling fluid. Think about it.”

Making The Grade: Tracking On-Grade Bores

By Karly Rupp

Two 300-foot bores, 17 feet down, through 44,000 psi of basalt. All at a .75 percent grade. It’s just another day’s work for Logan Kallwick and his crews.

“That job was a tough one,” said Kallwick, field supervisor for Downing Diversified in Kalama, Washington. “But those are the kind of jobs we’re known for. We have a reputation in the Portland area for going after grade bores and doing them right.”

Using a Ditch Witch® JT40, Kallwick’s team installed 600 feet of 14-inch HDP pipe in the tough basalt terrain of St. Helen’s, Oregon. They maintained less than two feet of fall in each of the two 300-foot bores. That kind of precision drilling doesn’t just happen—it’s earned.

“You have to be thorough,” Kallwick said. “It’s not a typical bore where you’re just shooting from point A to point B. You’ll usually see guys go six, eight, 10 feet at a time between checks and locates. But when we were piloting that bore, I was checking every two to three inches to make sure we were sitting on grade and making corrections every bit of the way.”

Of course, that kind of intensity takes time. That’s why grade bores typically take longer than usual. The key, Kallwick says, is to make sure that extra time is spent moving forward, not idle. 

For example, the company uses walkover tracking rather than relying on both a front and a back locate, which could translate into two or three time-consuming locates per check. In walkover mode, the Subsite® Electronics TK RECON™ system they use provides immediate locates directly over the head, instantly feeding that information to a Subsite display on the drill. Rather than waiting for a locator to take readings 30 feet in front of the head or 20 feet behind it to get direction and depth data, the drill operator gets accurate information quickly, right at the drill seat, so he can make adjustments and keep making forward progress.

“We’ve tried other systems, but Subsite is the locator we rely on,” said Kallwick. “We’re doing these bores where we’ve got to have three quarters of an inch precision with just .75 percent deviation … and we’re 17 feet deep in some of the hardest material you can find … and we’re still able to track the head quickly and accurately and complete these jobs successfully. I have immediate information at my fingertips so I can sit on the drill and interpret depths and percentages constantly as we’re moving. I can continue to progress forward instead of waiting around for that information to relay and then having to take my time to move forward. Without it, you could take three or four times longer to do something like this.”

Kallwick also pointed out a time-saving benefit when it comes to vibration.

“We started shooting one of these grade bores—a 1.2 percent—using a different locating system. But with all the vibration, our pitches were jumping from a plus seven percent down to a minus four percent. We would have to stop to get a reading in the middle. But the TK RECON system seems to buffer the percentages and give us a consistent reading as we move along. It’ll go up and down a little bit, but that’s what the head is actually doing so we’ll make adjustments. It saves a ton of time.”

Combined with maximum productivity from a fleet of Ditch Witch directional drills and the skillful expertise that comes from decades of experience, the company’s reliance on accurate walkover locating and seamless data transmission to a display on the drill has enabled them to trim time off difficult grade bores. The St. Helen’s job, for example, went quicker than you might think. Chipping away at the volcanic rock was so difficult, the pit itself took the general contractor more than two weeks to dig. Even so, the entire job was completed in just 21 days. 

From storm systems and gravity sewer lines to a 1,100-foot shot with a six-inch pipe for jet fuel at the Portland International Airport, Downing Diversified has tackled all kinds of tough grade bores. Each job has its unique challenges, but Kallwick has the same advice for any grade bores.

“We’ve made a name for ourselves doing one percent and sub one percent grade bores. That’s only one inch of vertical play up and down every 10 linear feet that we move forward. It’s a very tight tolerance. So, you must have the patience to check and double-check and be very precise. If you have that, then it comes down to using the right equipment and making sure it is calibrated and operating properly. For locating, that means using something accurate and reliable enough for direct walkover locates in deep, difficult conditions. It’s vital that your locator is walking and standing right over that head, so you know exactly where it is at that time.”

As municipalities, general contractors and others continue to recognize the benefits of directional drilling for grade projects, more of these opportunities are becoming available. When bidding and planning for these jobs, it’s important to know that boring on grade at tight tolerances and for long distances is not only possible with walkover locating, it’s preferred. You’ll be more productive and more successful which, ultimately, is good for the industry as a whole.

About Downing Diversified

The Downing Diversified team has over 30 years’ experience in the HDD industry. Jimmy Downing began gaining his extensive knowledge and love of drilling in 1989 when his father purchased the first model drill manufactured by Ditch Witch (one of the first mini rigs to come to the Pacific Northwest). In 2012, he founded his own company, Downing Diversified. The company’s specialized equipment and turn-key capabilities have made them a leader in residential, municipal, industrial or commercial installations. For more information, visit downingdiversified.com.

About Subsite® Electronics

Subsite® Electronics, a Charles Machine Works Company, is committed to providing underground construction professionals the most comprehensive suite of electronic products in the industry, including utility locators, Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) guidance equipment, utility inspection systems, and equipment machine controls. By using innovative technologies, extensive market feedback and outstanding customer support, Subsite has established itself as the premier source of electronic technology to support the installation, maintenance and inspection of underground pipe and cable. For more information, visit subsite.com.

Insights and Advice for Equipment Managers in the Pipeline Industry

Andy Baldwin has been the equipment manager for Appalachian Pipeline Contractors in Hendersonville, Tenn., since June 2011. Prior to assuming that role, Baldwin worked in the auto parts industry for nearly 20 years. “My experience in auto parts, having a basic understanding of different types of machinery and their related components, made me a good fit,” Baldwin relates.

Baldwin now manages Appalachian Pipeline’s 500-plus-piece fleet of equipment ranging from trucks, skid steers and excavators to boring machines, pipelayers, sandblasting pots and numerous attachments. Baldwin talked to ICUEE about some of his biggest lessons learned since joining the pipeline industry nearly eight years ago, along with what he thinks it will take to continue succeeding as an equipment manager.

Q: What are some of the biggest pipeline industry trends right now?

We’re seeing a lot of new pipeline construction, as well as the refurbishing of existing lines. We’ve put in a lot of bids on “take-up and relay” projects where we’re removing old 10-inch lines and putting 16-inch lines in their place, or maybe going from a 16 to a 20. In either case, the existing pipe is too small to handle the volume that needs to run through it.

Another thing I’ve seen is that more equipment is available to rent than when I first started in 2011. A great example is the trailer-style vacuum excavator. We don’t operate this type of machine on an everyday basis, so I really can’t justify purchasing one. The challenge has been: Where can I go to rent one? Meeting people from leading manufacturers have been really helpful. Now there are a few vendors out there who have added vacuum excavators to their rental fleets.

Q: What are your biggest lessons learned thus far as an equipment manager?

Technology can be really helpful, but you have to do your homework and make sure you’ll get a return on your investment. For example, we’ve tried a couple of different telematics solutions, primarily for equipment tracking. The issue we’ve always run into is that, because of the specialized work we do, our equipment sometimes sits for longer periods of time. If it’s not being started and operated every day, especially in the colder northern climate, the telematics device seems to put a bit of a draw on the battery. Since our primary focus is productivity and downtime, that’s a concern for us.

Another issue we’ve had with telematics is that a lot of our equipment is older. We aren’t able to capture as much of the machine performance data as we’d like in order to really see the benefit of telematics. That will change over time, of course, as we replace and upgrade elements of our fleet.

Q: Do you have any advice for your fellow equipment managers?

When I first came into this industry, I didn’t know all that much. Plus, I was all by myself; nearly everyone else in the company was out on job sites. I knew what a dozer was and what an excavator was, of course, but I knew I had a lot to learn. That’s why I attended my first ICUEE in 2013. Now the show has grown to include a lot more of what we utilize as a pipeline company. I’m looking forward to the show this year to see what else is new and different and would encourage others to attend as well.

I like to think outside the box. I look at equipment and technology, not just for what it is designed for, but what our company can use it for. For example, we’ve started using pole trailers for hauling pipe on the right-of-way. They are compact but can carry the weight. I think it’s important for equipment managers to really challenge themselves and think creatively.

My other piece of advice is that it’s important to build a long list of resources. That’s another reason I like ICUEE. I’ve been able to meet a lot of people from a lot of companies, some of which I was never even aware of. When I first became an equipment manager eight years ago, I only had a couple of mat companies I dealt with. Now I have six or eight. The more people you know and the more options you have, the better you can be as an equipment manager.

You can see the latest equipment and technology for the utility and construction industries at, Oct. 1-3, 2019 in Louisville, KY. Registration is now open.

About ICUEE:

The biennial ICUEE, International Construction, and Utility Equipment Exposition are known as The Demo Expo for its equipment test drives and interactive product demonstrations.

It is the leading event for utilities and utility and construction contractors seeking comprehensive insights into the latest industry technologies, innovations, and trends focused on electric transmission and distribution, telecom, cable, natural gas, water and wastewater, and vegetation management.

ICUEE owner and producer is Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers – www,aem.org.

ICUEE 2015 a Cornucopia of New Products

Remus  and Mill my best friends, both victims of lymphoma earlier this year.

Remus and Mill my best friends, both victims of lymphoma earlier this year.

By Greg Sitek

ICUEE – International Construction Utility Equipment Exposition is an incredible show because it gives visitors an opportunity to see and “test-drive” equipment. The show started in the “corn fields” of Elburn Illinois. Grew. Moved to the DuPage County Illinois Fair Grounds. Moved to Olathe Kansas. Moved to the abandoned Kansas City Airport. Moved to Louisville Kentucky where it still operates.

It was started because utilities – the phone and electric companies – needed an opportunity to see and test the equipment that they would consider buying in the coming years.

The show grew because it served a purpose and fulfilled the needs of the industries it served. Every show has been progressively better – not the weather, the content. I haven’t missed a one.

This year’s show was doused with rain but it was loaded with new product and in spite of the rain, had a record attendance of more than 18,000+ attendees and hundreds of exhibitors.

Unfortunately I can’t list all of the exhibitors who introduced new or updated products at the show. I personally visited with the people from Caterpillar, Bobcat,

Vermeer, Ditch Witch, JCB, Thunder Creek, TerraMac,Toro, Doosan, Subsite, JCB, Toro, EyeTrax, Altec, Terex, CASE, TEAMCO, IMT, Hyundai, Volvo, Yanmar, Vacuworx, Palfinger and others. It was a great show.

It was a great show because it introduced new products, brought major segments of the industry together, shared industry-relative information and projected a bright future.

In spite of the rain everyone was cheerful and upbeat looking forward to the challenges of the future. Conversations evolved around the “Highway Bill,” other pending legislation and of course the presidential campaigns. One common thread was that virtually everyone was anxious for the race to over because they were tired of all the politics. Another often repeated comment is that the race should be limited to only three or a maximum of six months prior to the election.

Over the next couple of months we will provide you with product information from ICUEE. For now, a recap of ICUEE 2015. It has set a show record as the largest ever with more than 18,000 registered attendees, and surpassing the last show by 13 percent. ICUEE 2015 ran September 29 – October 1, at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Registrants came from all 50 states, nine of the 10 Canadian provinces and more than 60 other countries worldwide.

The 2015 show set records for exhibit space and number of exhibitors. More than 950 exhibitors, including more than 250 companies new to the show, took more than 1.2 million net square feet of exhibit space to showcase their latest equipment and product innovations, and conduct numerous live demonstrations and hands-on opportunities.

“This is our most comprehensive ICUEE ever, and there has been tremendous enthusiasm and interaction among attendees and exhibitors from Day One, when the official Kentucky Derby bugler opened the show,” said Show Director Sara Truesdale Mooney.

“Attendees are finding more companies, product innovations and product demos – plus quality networking with industry experts and peers that really increases the value of the show,” said Mooney.

ICUEE is also known as The Demo Expo and is the largest event for the utility industry, owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). The show brings together industry professionals to gain comprehensive insights into the latest technologies, innovations and trends affecting their industry.

See you at the next ICUEE.