Let’s Dig into Our Drilling Services

While our geotechnical engineering capabilities are broad, we’d like to focus on one specific effort—our drilling services. When the general public hears the world drilling, they probably aren’t thinking of  “geotechnical drilling,” as we do. With geotechnical drilling, you’re not trying to collect anything, you’re trying to learn more about an ecosystem so that when construction begins, the builders are aware of exactly what’s beneath their feet. Such an analysis informs every aspect of the design and construction of a structure.

You might think that dirt is dirt. If it’s dense and compact enough to stand on without moving, then it must be stable, right? However, dirt will have many different properties under the stress of a structure, such as a building, bridge, or highway.

Geotechnical Drilling is More Important than You Might Think

Preconstruction is one of the most important steps in engineering and construction. Without it, even the best plans will fall through. Geotechnical drilling is a key component of that process. We begin every project with it so that everything else goes smoothly.

Justin Champion, Drilling Supervisor, fully understands the importance of geotechnical drilling. He knows it’s vitally important to the public—even if there’s not much awareness about the subject.

“Our geotechnical drilling services are something few people outside the industry think about. Most people have never heard of this kind of drilling. However, geotechnical drilling is one of the most important steps within the preconstruction process.

“Drilling at a site is one of the first steps in the design process. It provides our engineers with the crucial data needed to accurately and effectively design a structure/roadway that meets a client’s specific requirements.”

“Our drill teams collect soil and data at the site of a future project. This soil is then analyzed in the lab and used to determine the project’s design parameters. With modern building codes and governmental regulations, it’s safe to say that geotechnical drilling is a part of every modern structure that the public uses.”

Geotechnical drilling is about safety and quality. It ensures that a site is safe for people while informing what kind of engineering is appropriate for it. A structure needs the right foundation with the right soil, or it’ll sink into the ground, sometimes even catastrophically.

We’ve Been Drilling from the Start

At our firm, we’ve always believed in a multi-faceted approach to our engineering solutions. The less we need to subcontract, the more we work face-to-face with our clients. This direct approach leads to better results and happier clients.

While Justin’s been working with us as a Drilling Supervisor for quite some time, we’ve been offering this capability for far longer.

“BFW/Marcum has provided geotechnical drilling services nearly from the company’s founding. The founders always understood the value of providing as many components of the engineering process as possible to their clients.”

“Very few firms provide these geotechnical services, so they are left hiring a subcontractor to perform the on-site drilling operations. In many cases, since these subcontractors cannot provide the necessary lab work in house, they hire another subcontractor to perform analysis of the soils. The end result is multiple levels of more and more obscured accountability. I think you can understand how that could be frustrating to a client.”

“Our firm not only provides these geotechnical drilling services but also operates an in-house ASTM/CCRL accredited soils laboratory to analyze the samples gathered by the drilling crew. This, along with our Geotechnical Engineer/Co-Founder, Chris Farmer, P.E., allows us to completely satisfy our clients’ demands without the need to hire an additional firm to supplement one of these steps in the process.”

Even though doing something in-house is always a big investment in money as well as expertise, it’s almost always worth it.

Our Goal is Organic Expansion

An expansion need is always a good problem to have as long as it’s covered by a strategy for departmental scalability. Our geotechnical department has always been organized to expand whenever the workload calls for it. Luckily, we’ve had that need recently. We asked Justin to chime in about his department’s recent expansion.

“We recently expanded the drilling department and hired a second drill team, consisting of a Drill Operator and Driller’s Assistant. Our new Drill Operator brings over 30 years of experience to the company across multiple drilling disciplines.”

“Beyond drilling, we’ve also begun to expand our geotechnical expertise into the transportation engineering department. This expansion has already aided us in projects for clients such as the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. With the addition of our second drill team, we can effectively double our drilling efforts.”

Our Eye is Always on Economy and Efficiency

One primary challenge of any engineering project is finding a perfect balance between economy and efficiency. How do you make the best product possible without overspending? Justin thinks that the future of our geotechnical drilling efforts plays into helping to overcome that challenge.

“The future of the firm’s geotechnical drilling services reflects the entire company’s promise of continued growth through an ever-expanding client base. BFW/Marcum is always looking for new and improved methods of completing its client’s goals, either through technology or the improvement of currently accepted drilling practices. Technological advancements in drilling have come a long way in the past decade, with new methods of drilling and of gathering the data is crucial to our operations.”

“Another example of where we want to be in the future is the recent hire of an Environmental Manager and an Environmental Biologist. The addition of this new environmental department could provide our drilling department with a new industry to enter. The environmental drilling industry could potentially provide the company with an as-of-yet untapped industry to offer services to. The local chemical and industrial facilities could provide a large portion of this environmental work, and our firm’s long-standing relationship with these facilities would aid in our possible efforts to expand. Our new Drill Operator would also be an invaluable source of knowledge and training to the rest of us due to his past exposure to the environmental drilling market. To put it simply: We’re moving in multiple directions, and our ability to overlap disciplines makes us a dynamic and exciting firm.” 

There’s a Simple Reason Clients Choose Us

We asked Justin what he’d say to a client he was trying to get on-board—a short-and-sweet elevator pitch to advocate for his department.

“If you’re a client of ours, then you can be certain you’ve chosen the best and brightest to accomplish your vision.”

Geotechnical drilling, when done right, demands a level of expertise. Justin’s supervision over the department, as well as his demand for quality and consistency, ensure that we’re not just keeping these services in-house, we’re offering the best drilling services you can find.