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Drilling and Tapping: Pipe Dreams

The Institute of Water's UK Drilling and Tapping Competition returns for its 30th year at Utility Week Live in May

The 30th annual UK Drilling and Tapping Competition takes place across two full days on 22 and 23 May at this year’s Utility Week Live conference and exhibition at the Birmingham NEC. Organised by the Institute of Water, the championships continue to make a splash as large crowds gather to watch the challengers battle it out for glory.

The concept is relatively simple: entrants are tasked with making a new service connection to a live water main in the shortest time possible. Two-person teams must drill and tap a 150mm diameter ductile iron main under available pressure, together with the installation of a simulated service connection.

Speed is clearly of the essence, but it cannot come at the expense of quality – time penalties are added for a number of infractions including leaks as well as safety and other technical violations. 

There are various prizes on offer, with first, second and third places recognised in the men’s and women’s categories, while there will also be awards for best newcomer and best contractor.

As well as the glory of taking first place, the fastest men’s and women’s teams have the motivation of winning an all-expenses-paid trip to compete abroad, with the top men set to compete in the AWWA pipe tapping competition in Denver in June 2019, while the top women will head to Aquatech in Amsterdam in November 2019.

Any hopefuls eyeing up a trip to America for the best men’s prize will have to overcome the formidable Anglian Water team, who won the competition in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – setting a new record last time out – as well as taking the crown at the World Water Cup in each of the last two years.

Even so, true quality will not go unrewarded – ‘quality taps’ are recognised throughout the championships, with boxes of Quality Street given to any team that completes a run without leaks or penalties.

More info at www.drillingandtapping.co.uk.

For details of attending Utility Week Live visit: www.utilityweeklive.co.uk


Competitor Q&A: Pauline Melville – Tapper, Scottish Water

How many years have you been competing in Drilling and Tapping? 2017 was my fourth year competing (2014 and 2015 with Susan Hunter and 2016 and 2017 with Laura Allan).

What attracted you to the competition? Mainly the opportunity to do something entirely different from my day job (I’m an accountant), the challenge of learning a new skill, the chance to meet and make friends across the other competing teams, and it’s a competition and I’m competitive!

What have been your personal highlights of the competition? In 2015, Susan Hunter and I were lucky enough to be ambassadors for Scottish Water and take part in the competition in Amsterdam. We were invited by Anglian Water to come to their training facilities to learn the different technique for the competition, which we did, and thanks to them and some tips on the day from the Bournemouth Water team (now part of South West Water) we finished a respectable fourth. It was a great experience. I think this illustrates a real team spirit across the teams – it’s the same in the UK event, everyone wants to have a good competition but at the end of the day we still help each other compete to be the best.

What would you say to anyone considering entering or giving it a go? Absolutely do it. It’s great team building, gets you out of your comfort zone, teaches you how you react under pressure and allows you to represent your company in a very positive way.


Competitor Q&A: Laura Allen – Driller, Scottish Water

How many years have you been competing in Drilling and Tapping? Two years

What attracted you to the competition? The chance to challenge myself and learn something new. I am also super competitive so this was a great chance to do that in a new environment.

What have been your personal highlights of the competition? On my first run, in my first year of competing, hearing all the other teams from other companies shouting encouragement and advice to us. The camaraderie between teams is brilliant.

What would you say to anyone considering entering or giving it a go? To do it. I am office based, I don’t do this as a job but it’s a great thing to be involved with, I have met new people and gained a new skill.

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