Driller thriller: Game on

The 19th IWO National Drilling & Tapping Championships is laying down the gauntlet to those of a competitive nature. It takes place at Faversham House Group's Iwex event next May - and you can enter now.

My involvement in the IWO Drilling & Tapping event started in 1996. I found myself sitting next to a man at the IWO Annual General Meeting being held in Glasgow, who was wearing tartan trousers.

He was John Clemments, founder of the United Kingdom Drilling & Tapping Competition.

I got chatting to him and he started talking about the event - we had something in common as I had taken part in the first Drilling & Tapping Competition a few years previously.

It was good to hear him talking about the competition. I said I would like to be part of it again - he soon had me lined up to be a judge for the competition.

In 1997, the competition was held at the NEC, Birmingham. At the event, I saw the camaraderie between the teams, talking training, and about the way things were going in their part of the country.

Some international teams were even taking part in the competition - a great addition.

The lads from Amsterdam Water are always laughing and joking. And the boys from Birmingham Alabama Water are legends in both the UK and the US Drilling & Tapping competitions.

So what is the competition about? It's about speed and quality - speed in drilling and tapping into a main, fitting a boundary box; and quality in the way the main is tapped and the fittings are connected to the main and box.

It shows the high quality of people in the industry - not only do production workers take part, but there are leakage technicians, samplers and all kinds of office staff, male and female.

Competitive spirit
I was lucky enough to visit New Orleans for the US AWWA Drilling and Tapping Competition in 2002 when the Wessex Water Team represented the UK. It was a great occasion, even when the hotel we were staying in caught fire.

We have a number of teams that are partnerships, which has produced two winning teams, as well as teams made up from contractors.

One of these, Enterprise, won the competition in 2004.

As winners, they were invited to the US competition which that year was held in San Fransisco. I was lucky enough to be asked to be their coach as the US way of
tapping into a main is different to the UK method.

The old competitive spirit soon came back, and it was good to be involved. Although it was strange not to be judging this time, as a coach I saw a different perspective.

New blood is always needed. And, remember, you do not have to be a field worker. The friendship you will receive taking part in this competition is second
to none.

One thing you do not see now is camcorders. I'm glad of this. People were always trying to show us where we went wrong but, as in all competitions, the referee's word is final. And we're all human.

We see heads of water companies such as Tony Cooke, Bournemouth and West Hants managing director, and contractor representatives, including Martin Jennings at Enterprise, singing the praises of the teambuilding and the good working environment it aspires to.

The competition that is held in the Netherlands even has a managers and directors competition.

So how about it? Why don't some of the managers and directors in the UK come and have a go? Don't be afraid - step into the ring, and let the competition begin.

Michael Taylor, service delivery manager at Severn Trent Water, is a senior judge for the IWO Drilling & Tapping Competition.

The next IWO Drilling & Tapping competition to contest the Tyco Trophy will be at Iwex 2007, which is being held at the NEC, Birmingham on May 1-3.

The closing date for entries is February 23, 2007, but teams can enter now by visiting www.drillingandtapping.co.uk

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