DKI’s Extreme Torque tools are put to the test at a massive tunnel project.
By Jim Harris, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing
At a planned 58 kilometers (35 miles) in length, the Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT) in Europe will be the longest railway tunnel in the world when completed in 2025.
The tunnel, running between Austria and Italy, is designed to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes trains to travel through the region by shifting trains from mountain passages to underground rail.
Keller Group UK, one of the world’s leading engineering firms that works on large turnkey projects in civil and infrastructure around the globe, relied on Drill King International (DKI) to provide it with the tools needed to successfully complete this section of the massive project.
Founded in 2004, DKI is a Texas-based manufacturer specializing in high-performance drilling tools serving the oil and gas, civil and construction, geotechnical-geothermal, mining, tunneling and water well drilling markets in more than 80 countries.
Keller is using DKI’s WAI 5.0 fluid hammer on the 30-meter single-pass drill rigs it is using to drill holes for grouting. DKI, in partnership with BWH of Germany, was proud to support Keller on the BBT site with its proprietary fluid hammer technology. DKI’s key differentiator is its unique ability to adapt the product materials and processes to meet the demands of each drilling project.
The Wai Fluid Hammer Line adds value by increasing penetration rates, minimizing hole deviation and lowering costs to the customers. “Our ability to respond quickly with product innovations helped keep Keller on schedule at this site,” DKI Partner Shane Deerman says. “The geology at the site created challenges. We worked with field engineers and responded with innovative solutions.”
A Customized Solution
The team worked closely with Keller to identify what key issues were complicating the project. These issues included unconsolidated and abrasive geology, which created premature tool wear and shortened tool life. Deerman, along with Alex Losch, field engineer of BWH Bohrwerkzeuge Hoffmann Geschäftsführungs GmbH of Germany, and Robert Hannson, field engineer of Geo Drilling Solutions [GDS] of Sweden, worked closely with Keller’s engineering team to customize the tools to meet the demands of the drilling conditions.
“Keller’s team, led by Dr. Cristoph Deporta, shared the frustrations with short product life and rig downtime due to the tough drilling conditions,” Deerman says. “Our team immediately responded with innovations to enhance materials and processes, as well as fortify the stabilizing ribs [of the tool] with tungsten wear protection.” The results were increased penetration rates, superior tool life and minimal rig downtime.
“[Deporta] told me he never before worked with a product supplier that responded as quickly with solutions as we did,” Deerman adds. “He said, ‘It’s one thing to talk about delivering, it’s another to make it happen! You did just that and we could use you on other projects we have going on around the world.’ It was an honor to work with their team, and the results were a huge compliment.”
A Results-Driven Approach
DKI’s ability to work alongside its customers to understand their needs is its greatest differentiator from other manufacturers. “Whether they have pain points or problematic areas they are troubleshooting at a job site, we go to the design board to come up with a solution to meet the demands,” Deerman says. “We customize our products to meet the needs of our customers.”
Since joining the company in 2016, Deerman has worked on key differentiators to give DKI a competitive advantage by developing unique product solutions that not only meet a customer’s need, but also have the ability to out-perform and outlast its competitors. “Our competitors’ failed products have often served as the fuel for our innovative solutions, which have helped solve the problems and earn the business of our customers long-term in the industry,” he adds.
The company works closely with its steel suppliers to ensure it receives high-quality materials. DKI recently developed a new proprietary alloy that allows its products to endure the toughest drilling conditions. “We work with steel mills and their metallurgical teams to develop the best steel so we have the strongest and longest lasting tools in the market,” Deerman says.
“We work collaboratively to develop solutions that give everyone in the value chain a competitive advantage,” he adds. “We also recognize that agility has been key.”
DKI responds to issues quicker than any of its competitor in the marketplace today. “We are agile and aggressive in the marketplace; many of our competitors call us for products due to their own long lead times,” Deerman says.
Looking ahead, DKI aims to be the leading global supplier and manufacturer of integrated drilling tools and innovative solutions. “We will meet the needs of our customers, regardless of the project and where it is in the world,” he adds.