The resulting waste mud and fluids from the hydro excavation process can be effectively managed, making life easier for drilling operators and creating possible new revenue streams.
Extend your mud recycler’s lifespan
Mud systems have a lot of moving parts that must be maintained in order to keep them in premium working order
Equipment maintenance is a topic that no contractor particularly wants to address, but in light of the ever growing need to maximize production and cut down time it is extremely important. Your equipment will only continue to work properly if you take the time to perform simple routine maintenance.
Not only will routine maintenance extend the life of the complete mud system, but it will also extend the unit’s individual components which in turn, assist in the prevention of premature failure of the unit. General maintenance on a recycler is fairly straightforward, and can substantially prolong the life of the equipment.
Important maintenance items to remember are:
- Check the oil and water on the power unit at least once a day.
- Make sure there is adequate pressure on the cones while drilling to ensure optimum cleaning. Test the bottom of each cone with your finger to feel for a vacuum or suction action while running.
- Take the time to ensure proper screen size selection and that the screens are free of tears and in good condition.
- Conduct routine visual inspections of the frame, electrical and/or hydraulic components.
- Periodically inspect wires, hoses and connections to identify any damaged items that should be replaced.
- Keep electrical boxes closed and caps on hydraulic or fuel tanks. To date, we have not been able to make the machine run better or faster using water for fuel or hydraulics. This can be a serious mistake and cost a large amount of money to repair, not to mention downtime. As a side note to this, do not use a screwdriver as an electrical start button! More than once we have found a flat blade screwdriver wedged into an electrical starter holding the contacts together. The electrical panels do not need to be left open for any reason while running.
- Tires, axles and lug nuts should be inspected and adjusted as needed as well as the brakes.
- Remember to check the 12-volt lighting on trailer mounted units to maintain a safe “over the highway vehicle.”
- And, always ensure that the safety guards are in place. It is necessary that we all take responsibility to ensure safety on the location and when time is at a premium it may seem easier to leave items off after a repair. The few extra minutes it requires to reinstall the guard may make the difference in preventing a serious accident.
- Take the time to remember to grease and adjust centrifugal packing on a regular basis. A leak will not only cause a mess but also a hazardous work environment.
Bearings require lubrication for long life. Refer to your owner’s manual for all the grease points located on your unit. Electric motors do not require regular grease. Check with the manufacturer on their requirements. Cones can get plugged with debris and make them inactive, thus reducing their cleaning capacity. Screens get torn, allowing trash to get into the system to cause plugging problems. Oil or drilling mud on the deck floor can cause “slip” hazards.
When it is time to move the equipment from one location to another, take a few minutes and thoroughly wash the machine to remove all mud and debris. Flush clean water through the system to ensure that all suction and discharge lines are clean and clear. Completely flushing the system can prevent drilling mud from drying in the suction lines, cones, hopper, etc. Remember; in extreme weather conditions be sure to winterize the system. Refusal to do this can result in trouble restarting the cleaning system and a great amount of time and expense to clean out when you should be drilling.
While performing the clean-up inspect the unit for any stressed or damaged components. When the mud system is operating properly it is easy to forget to check and grease components as a preventative measure. The focus on a job site is to increase production while decreasing operating costs. While this makes for a better bottom line, it does not always allow for the time or personnel to maintain and repair the equipment. For this reason, as they say, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” and if it is running we have a tendency to focus on the larger obvious challenges of keeping the drill bit turning.
I am often asked what the general lifespan is of mud system when purchased “new” and what factors impact the age. This is a hard question to answer as there are so many variables. For example, the location of service (eg. heavy sand areas vs. slow hard rock drilling or shale), amount of time per day the unit is used (12 hour vs. 24 hour per day jobs), number of days per week and number of weeks per year the unit is used all must be evaluated.
What I normally tell contractors is we have units that were built in 1996 that are still in use today and still going strong. We also have had units that had a life of less than five years of hard service that have required refurbishing and upgrading. You must keep in mind that maintenance and conscientious personnel running the equipment will increase the lifespan of any piece of equipment. If you operate in extremely harsh conditions, abuse or neglect any equipment without conducting routine inspection and maintenance, it will not be operating for the long haul. With that said, remember the dirty fluid flowing through the mud system is effectively sand blasting away the interior of the pipes, steel, etc. Wear items such as the hydrocyclones, centrifugal impellors, wear plates and volutes are designed to process the undesirable fluid and over time must be replaced. As these items wear out the efficiency of the unit will diminish, and that means the maximum cleaning capacity will diminish. As Ben Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I keep trying to live by that and instill those words of wisdom by telling field personnel and customers that if properly maintained a mud recycling system can effectively remove the undesirable solids from your drilling mud. This will save not only the wear items on the mud system but also increase the life of the drilling rig: swivel, pipe, and downhole tools. You will become more cost-efficient by permitting the reuse of your drilling mud thereby cutting costs on water, bentonite and labour.
Take a minute, step back and give a hard look at any mud system and we will all have to agree on at least one thing: mud systems have a lot of moving parts that must be maintained in order to keep them in premium working order. Training your drilling crew and maintenance personnel to take the time to properly set-up, run, maintain and troubleshoot equipment challenges will not only save time and money but will ensure the long life of the drilling/ mud recycling equipment.
More from Horizontal Directional Drilling
The rise in underground utility projects is good news for contractors across the country. However, whether it be due to fiber build-out or aging infrastructure replacement, this growth requires underground utility contractors to find and employ more horizontal directional drill (HDD) operators. This demand has resulted in a shortage of qualified, skilled and confident operators in the underground construction industry.
Vermeer's new Navigator horizontal directional drill designed to deliver in rocky, congested environments
The new Vermeer D23x30DR S3 Navigator horizontal directional drill (HDD) integrates dual-rod technology into a compact machine design to efficiently maneuver through rock in congested cities, busy neighborhoods or tight jobsites. Featuring a class-leading narrow footprint and a weight of 16,500 pounds (7,484 kg), the D23x30DR S3 is the lightest rock drill on the market and is well suited for fibre, electrical, gas and water installation in hard rock, as well as other challenging ground conditions.
More than 50 percent of reported underground utility damages are the result of insufficient excavation practices according to the 2017 DIRT Report. The Ditch Witch organization, a Charles Machine Works Company, has introduced an industry-first Virtual Reality (VR) Simulator to better prepare horizontal directional drill (HDD) operators for safe underground construction through cutting-edge training technology.
The Ditch Witch organization, a Charles Machine Works Company, has updated its line of fluid management systems to increase productivity and reduce costs on horizontal directional drilling (HDD) jobsites. These advanced models incorporate new design features to meet the highest standards for jobsite productivity, improved drilling fluid flow, increased durability, and faster mixing cycles and yield times.
Technical Toolboxes, a global provider of integrated and cloud-based pipeline software, consulting and industry training for pipeline engineering and technical professionals, has launched its new Horizontal Directional Drilling PowerTool (HDDPT).
Sandvik has acquired privately-owned Inrock, a supplier of rock drilling tools and services for Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) in North America. Headquartered in Houston, TX, Inrock is a market leader in pilot hole bits, reamers, guidance systems, accessories and services for the premium maxi rig segment within HDD.
MTI Equipment, a Charles Machine Works Company, recently completed construction of their new facility in North Port, Florida. Moving from their longtime location in Englewood, company officials say the new facility carries a larger inventory, offers improved service capabilities and is more conveniently located for customers.
HammerHead Trenchless, a Charles Machine Works company, has promoted three of its top personnel to newly created management positions. HammerHead President Kevin Smith said the new positions are part of an internal expansion initiative that strengthens the company's existing focus on customers and users.
Designed and tested with the help of small bore contractors, the Radius HDD Over-Bit Reamer easily attaches to an existing rock bit without breaking a single connection. The Radius Over-Bit Reamer only needs 16 inches of clearance. With the pilot tool still attached, the sonde can be used to track progress through tight easements during pullback. The Radius Over-Bit Reamer is available in 6- and 8-inch sizes with a variety of cutting styles.
Two of the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) industry's leading equipment and tooling manufacturers, Vermeer Corporation and Mincon Group PLC, have formed a distribution alliance to expand contractors' access to quality rock tooling worldwide. As part of the agreement, Vermeer dealers are now the exclusive channel for Mincon HDD air hammer systems, HDD pull reaming hammers and HDD support equipment, including HDD support stations and oilers.
Vermeer expands its line of utility installation equipment with the launch of the D8x12 Navigator horizontal directional drill. This new compact and highly productive drill is sized for working in tight spaces, features straightforward controls and delivers quiet operation. With two drill rod options for added versatility, the Vermeer D8x12 is well suited for small service installations, including gas distribution, power, water and telecommunication networks.
The Ditch Witch organization, a Charles Machine Works Company, has released an advanced version of their industry-first, web-based tool that helps customers be more efficient and reduce downtime by quickly finding the service parts they need. The Ditch Witch Parts Lookup gives customers easy access to detailed parts information and a direct line of communication to dealerships for part verification and pick-list creation.
The longest horizontal directional drilled (HDD) installation of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe in the United States and Canada was recognized as Project of the Year by the Plastics Pipe Institute, Inc. (PPI). The award was presented to PPI member company ISCO Industries at the association's annual membership meeting in May 2017. PPI is the major North American trade association representing all segments of the plastic pipe industry,
StraightLine HDD announced the addition of multiple pipe sizes to its growing offering of in-stock drill pipe. The product expansion more than doubles the number of available Vermeer-compatible pipe and adds three common Ditch Witch-compatible pipe sizes.
TT Technologies' redesigned Grundopit pit-launched mini directional drill is well suited for difficult fiber-to-the-home and utility service line installations in tight working conditions. The unit is compact, 54 inches long, 43 inches wide and 57 inches tall. The Grundopit delivers 13,489 lbs. of thrust and pull back and 553 ft. lbs. of torque with bore length up to 150 feet. The Grundopit is an ideal entry-level system for utilities, cable industries or as a supplement to larger units.
Utility and underground contractors have a new solution to save time and streamline operations with the introduction of the innovative Toro DD2226 directional drill.
Pipeline and utility contractors attending the 2017 International Utility and Construction Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) in Louisville, Kentucky, were first to see the newly released American Augers M-300D HDD fluid cleaning system. Based on American Augers' successful, highly portable M-200 platform, the M-300 system's small trailer size lowers registration and excise tax requirements while supporting any make of 60- to 100-ton drill unit with a true 300 gpm fluid-cleaning capability.
HammerHead Trenchless, a Charles Machine Works company, introduced its new 22-ton, radio remote-controlled HydroGuide® HG2200 cable winch at the 2017 International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) in Louisville, Kentucky. The HG2200 completes the HammerHead line of next-generation winches designed for maximum efficiency and ease-of-use in pipe-bursting, slip-lining and pipe-slitting applications.
Ditch Witch offers next generation AT40 all terrain directional drill optimizes downhole performance in hard rock
To enhance utility contractors' efficiency while drilling and steering in hard rock, Ditch Witch, a Charles Machine Works Company, has released the new AT40 All Terrain horizontal directional drill (HDD). The machine features an advanced, two-pipe All Terrain drilling system that provides 33 percent more torque than competitive units. The newly optimized All Terrain drilling system includes multiple patent-pending designs that improve downhole operation. An inner-rod design provides a flush system that improves tool-joint durability and steering in hard rock conditions. To further improve steering and optimize fluid flow, a reliable All Terrain connection reduces the risk of collar damage.
DITCH WITCH unveils enhanced, next generation underground construction equipment, parts and technology at ICUEE
The Ditch Witch organization, a Charles Machine Works company, is planning to unveil a wide variety of new and enhanced underground construction equipment, parts, tools, and technology—all designed to boost productivity at the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) Oct. 3-5 in Louisville, Kentucky.
The spring 2017 acquisition of Armadrillco solidified StraightLine HDD's position as a leader in hard condition tooling. The announcement today of the adaption of the patented Armadrillco transmitter housing to the RockEye Hammer System is a significant step in diffusing Armadrillco technology throughout StraightLine HDD tooling platforms.
StraightLine HDD recently expanded its hole opener offering with the introduction of the XL-I Series. Designed from the ground up for horizontal directional drilling, the XL-I Series is positioned as a cost-effective alternative to "split-bit" hole openers.
Success in the HDD business is about more than boring a stable hole and completing a successful pullback. It's about running your entire HDD operation like a well-oiled machine. Here are five ways we've seen successful HDD companies make businesses function more smoothly and create lasting success, followed by an example of what to look for in on specific type of tool, the backreamer.
Ditch Witch has introduced the new Rock MonsterHD backreamers to help today's horizontal directional drilling (HDD) operators improve drilling performance in hard rock conditions.
Utilities and underground industry contractors have a new tool to increase productivity with the launch of Toro’s new directional drill operating system, TDOS-1 with SmartTouch. The new system allows pipe handling functions to be performed using a single input on the joystick in SmartTouch operating mode.
StraightLine HDD, Inc. announced the implementation of an upgrade to its popular Performix Mud Mix System. At the heart of the Performix System is the centrifugal pump, which generates the best laminar flow in the industry. The performance pump now features an upgraded silicon-carbide shaft seal. Compared to traditional ceramic seals, the new seal represents a considerable advancement in resiliency when subjected to the highly abrasive elements present in mud mixing. In field testing, silicon carbide seals improve service life by a factor of three,over ceramic seals.
Vermeer has bolstered its line of HDD tooling and accessories with the addition of the Silver Series drill rod. Building on the tradition of it's acclaimed Firestick drill rod, Silver Series drill rod gives contractors a quality aftermarket drill rod at an economic price.
To equip utility contractors with the latest technology for optimal drilling productivity, Ditch Witch, a Charles Machine Works Company, has added the innovative new JT40 horizontal directional drill (HDD) to its fleet of drills.
In the fall of 2016, drilling contractor PPI Chrobok S.A. installed two new gas pipelines in Poland. The alignment runs along existing gas lines and through geologically challenging terrain. With the laying of the 700 and 464-meter-long pipelines, Herrenknecht's Direct Pipe technology was used in Poland for the first time.
Ditch Witch has introduced the JT10 horizontal directional drill (HDD) providing operators with exceptional power in a compact, reliable platform. For superior productivity, the machine incorporates advanced features found on larger units while remaining the most compact drill in its class.
Today’s horizontal directional drilling (HDD) operators face plenty of challenges on large installation projects, including difficult terrain and tough soil conditions. To provide operators with the power and performance to conquer any job, Ditch Witch has introduced Tier 4 emission standard upgrades to the JT60 and JT60 All Terrain directional drills.
For operators who need the power to drill through the toughest conditions, including solid rock, Ditch Witch has upgraded the JT100 and JT100 All Terrain horizontal directional drills (HDD) to Tier 4 emission standards.
Ditch Witch, a Charles Machine Works Company, has introduced the Air Saber lance, a new excavation accessory for the company’s FXT air-excavator equipment line.
Ditch Witch, has introduced the new Prospector Nozzle for better productivity on hydroexcavation jobs. Operating at 3,000 psi, the nozzle helps operators conquer the toughest challenges while boosting performance by 30 percent compared to similar nozzles on the market today.
They are two words no contractor or municipal engineer wants to hear: cross bore. A cross bore is what happens when one underground utility intersects another. Most worrying is when a gas line punches through a sewer main or lateral. Cross bore risk has risen with the use of trenchless technologies like horizontal directional drilling, because the operator can’t physically see what’s in the immediate vicinity of the drill bit.
Vermeer Navigator horizontal directional drill offers 36 percent more horsepower than its predecessor
Vermeer has announced the compact D10x15 S3 Navigator horizontal directional drill (HDD) for the utility installation market. The D10x15 S3 is designed to provide more power and carriage speed, and lower sound levels than its D9x13 S3 Navigator HDD predecessor.