What’s Beef? Drillers vs Consultants

A tale as old as time – conflict between drillers and consultants/site engineers. Sometimes drillers feel that engineers are white collar, superior, and ultimately afraid of getting their hands dirty.

Site engineers, on the other hand, sometimes feel drillers are dismissive, ignorant, and judgmental towards anyone wearing clean boots and a white hard hat.

But why does this relationship exist? It’s pretty clear that if both groups could work well together, it’s mutually beneficial for everyone. Both roles are codependent, and neither will likely be disappearing anytime soon. 


Drillers Point of View

As former drillers ourselves, who now work with both drillers and consultants, it’s easy for us to see both sides of the same coin.

To drillers, consultants can seem stuck up, bossy, and too scared to get their hands dirty. 

And this is fair – if you’re doing manual labour, seeing a white hard hat look at plans and order you around can seem frustrating. This is the same with any form of trade, construction, plumbing, electrical work, etc.

Drillers are usually hanging out by the rig smoking a dart or having a coffee when the consultant lets them know where the first hole is.

The moment the consultant usually gets out of their vehicle the drillers are rolling their eyes thinking not her/him again, and the same goes for the consultant. The drillers usually believe they are geologists and know more about the site than the consultant.

What else do drillers sometimes think of consultants? Here’s a few responses to an old post in the Geotechnical Drillers Facebook group:

  • “811 asking if there’s any more locations to drill on the last hole”
  • ”When the client says , just burn down real quick”
  • ”Brand new hard hat and vest on your inspector”
  • ”When the hole is marked directly under power lines”

Remember – these are the words of drillers, not us!

Alright – we’ve given drillers the chance to gripe. Now let’s hear from some of the consultants 


Consultants/Site Engineers Point of View

Taking the opposite perspective, drillers can sometimes seem rude, arrogant, and hard to deal with. 

So what are some things drillers do that annoy site engineers?

  • Pee on the side of their rig while talking to me
  • When drillers look at me expecting me to help haul the drilling materials to the hole.
  • When they say they aren’t drilling a hole after 2pm, that cracks me up. I think they are forgetting who their client is.
  • The most annoying thing about drillers is that they think they know where the well should be installed.


Bridging the Gap

Now that we’ve gotten some of the beef out of the way, here are a few things drillers and consultants can do to work better together.

  1. Be respectful – yes, you learned this in preschool. No, this doesn’t have to be difficult. 99% of the time, on site arguments and conflicts begin because one group is respecting the other. Everybody has a job to do, and nobody wants to spend unnecessary time and resources doing a job. When problems or unexpected issues arise (it’s drilling, something always does) maintaining a level of respect and professionalism goes a long way.
  2. Understand that both parties want to do a good job in a timely manner. If the job goes smoothly, it’s beneficial for both parties. Everyone gets paid, everyone goes home on time. Win/win.
  3. Maybe everyone needs to try and be a bit more empathetic to each other’s challenges, because both jobs already come with their fair share of difficulties and problems. By working tougher, projects can come in on time, and under budget.

Drillers are onsite to drill a hole and make a well while consultants are onsite to ensure their client is getting what they paid for, a good well. A well that is well sealed from surface contamination that will offer quality groundwater data.

Both parties are usually concerned with their own job rather than working as a team to get the job done. (This is the majority, not everyone)

Moving Forward

So – as a driller or a consultant, what can you do to work better with the other side and make the job go smoothly? A Lot of times the best drillers and consultants are the ones who keep things professional – knowing that by working together, you can complete your drilling safely, under budget, and on time.

And at the end of the day, that’s really what everybody wants. 

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