BDA at Smart Geotechnics – Digital Advancements in Geotechnical Investigation

October 6, 2023

Paul McMann, Chair of the British Drilling Association (BDA), delivered a thought-provoking presentation titled – “Digital Advancements in Ground Investigation and Drilling’ – at Ground Engineering’s Smart Geotechnics Conference, held 5th October 2023, in London.

Paul’s focus was on the digital advancements in geotechnical investigation (GI) and drilling, exploring the industry’s current practices and posing critical questions. He emphasised the increasing use of paperless systems and electronic record-keeping, highlighting the existence of standard practices, such as ISO 22476-15:2016, for Measurement While Drilling (MWD) systems since 2016.

While sectors like mining, exploration, and oil and gas have embraced digital solutions, Paul questioned why these advancements haven’t permeated the Ground Investigation Industry, and explored potential barriers, such as cost.

Addressing the broader issue of becoming “more digital”, Paul challenged whether the industry has effectively streamlined digital processes to enhance data quality and delivery. He raised questions about the gaps in data, the potential loss of key information, and the effectiveness of current practices.

Paul then turned attention to the BDA’s role in improving industry standards. He highlighted the Association’s mission to enhance health and safety, workmanship quality, and technical proficiency. He explained how the BDA achieves this through audits, collecting valuable data that informs guidance and technical notes.

Providing insights from recent audits, Paul identified areas where the industry falls short. Notably, he revealed that a significant percentage of drillers do not record essential data according to British Standards. For instance, over 30% fail to complete Standard Penetration Test (SPT) data, while nearly 30% neglect to record strata strength.

In conclusion, Paul urged industry stakeholders to prioritise audited drillers, emphasising the importance of ensuring accurate data collection at its source. By doing so, he argued, the industry could elevate standards, improve reliability, and ultimately generate better-quality data.

Paul’s presentation underscores the call for collective responsibility in maintaining industry standards and data integrity, urging professionals to take pride in their work and contribute to the betterment of the sector.






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