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Media / Local company news / Atlas Copco’s Master Driller Program comes to the U.S. after proven success in other countries

Atlas Copco’s Master Driller Program comes to the U.S. after proven success in other countries


Atlas Copco’s Master Driller Program, created to speed up training of drill rig operators during an industry-wide shortage of skilled drillers, is now available in the U.S. after demonstrating success in other countries. The program is based on progressive instruction in a classroom that includes simulated drilling in an actual drill rig cab. Atlas Copco said the program will not only help companies train new drillers but can also be used to train experienced operators on new rigs during fleet upgrades, as well as enhance current driller skills to increase a company’s overall efficiency.

Master Drill Training

A student inside a cab of an actual Pit Viper practices drilling during simulator training.

Wesley Stivers, regional training manager of North and South America for Atlas Copco Mining and Rock Excavation Service division (MRS) said, “We started the Master Driller Program for the Atlas Copco Pit Viper and will expand across other product lines in the near future.”  
Training is initially offered through the Atlas Copco division hub in Garland, Texas. Stivers is working with Versie Wallace, U.S. training manager MRS, to set up training in other Atlas Copco stores across the country and may expand the program to private distributors later.
Wallace said, “It’s very exciting training that will ensure that our operators are skilled on the specific machines they operate.”
During the course, which covers theoretical and manual training on simulators, students study drill startup and stop, safety procedures, towering-up, propelling, advanced propelling, drilling and advanced drilling. After a few days of this training, crews are able to drill the very first day in an actual drill rig.

Testimonial from graduates
One company recently going through a mine expansion believed the Master Driller Program made a big difference. Before the mine even received shipments of their new Atlas Copco Pit Viper 271 blasthole drill rigs, operators began to learn on them.
The trainees were a diverse group of various ages, talents and backgrounds. One was an experienced 58-year-old who has been drilling for 28 years and purchased his first computer only three weeks earlier. One was 47 and had drilled for years with some computer experience. A third was 28 with eight years of drilling experience and many years of computer gaming under his belt.
During one student’s simulated drilling of five holes, his skill level increased enough to complete the last two holes in half the time of his first one. This section had an overall time limit of one hour. On the first attempt, he failed it by two minutes. By the second run through the exercise, all operators had cut their time in half and were demonstrating proficiency with the rig’s controls.
Another driller said that without the simulator training he believed he would have figured out how to operate the rig, but the course has prepared him to drill immediately when the new rig arrives on-site. He added, “The simulator is definitely safer. You can’t damage the simulator like you could the drill itself.”
Almost all Atlas Copco blasthole rigs, along with underground and surface crawler drill rigs, have training programs designed to help operators become Master Drillers.
Wes Stivers and Versie Wallace welcome inquiries from those interested in the training. Stivers may be reached at 972-496-7400 or, and Wallace at 303-513-5793 or

Master Drill Training

Master Driller instructors lead classes with visuals that put students “in” the mine.

For further information please contact:

Christina Fisher, Marketing Communications Director
Atlas Copco Construction Mining Technique USA LLC
Telephone: 303-253-6922; Fax: 303-217-2840

Matt Fueston, Public Relations Manager
Ellenbecker Communications, Inc.
Telephone: 507-945-0105; Fax: 877-572-9860