Blasting Technology is quarrying rock with a new generation of drill rigs, the Sandvik DP1500i, with the company manager’s being keen to extol its attributes.
Over many eons volcanoes have erupted from the floor of the Pacific Ocean and formed the Hawaiian Islands, which slowly rise from the bottom. Today, those mountains of volcanic rock are a boom for Blasting Technology Inc., a drilling and blasting company that is hard at work on each of the major islands in the archipelago, operating a fleet of seven Sandvik Construction surface top hammer drill rigs tapping into this exotic land’s solidified lava.
Blasting Technology began operations in 1987, becoming a subsidiary of Goodfellow Bros Inc., which itself dates from 1921, with the resulting merging of peer companies being of mutual benefit. The business has developed so that it has progressed from using small machines to employing cab drill units, with Blasting Technology drills having been found working on “The Big Island” (Hawaii), Maui, Oahu, and Kauai as well as in rocky soils of a Pacific neighbor, Guam, and in the U.S. mainland coastal states of Oregon and Alaska.
The company, which began working on the islands with Tamrock drills (Tamrock being a company acquired by Sandvik in 1997) and Sandvik bits, has now switched exclusively to Sandvik products, with the backbone of the company’s equipment fleet being the versatile Sandvik DX800 drill, with four such units being operated on construction sites and in quarries. This drill rig has a record of reliably and productively puncturing the island rock, leaving behind smooth and vertical holes for the blasters.
Now, however, Blasting Technology is quarrying rock with a new generation of drill rigs, the Sandvik DP1500i, with the company manager’s being keen to extol its attributes. “Accountants must love this machine,” said Blasting Technology Foreman Chris Haynes. “I can’t imagine how anyone would not want to use these machines, just for the fuel savings.” With the DP1500i using about 5 gal. (19 L) an hour less than the predecessor DP1500 model, Haynes said, “The extra money (for the new model) is all savings in fuel.” General Manager Ted Fritzen, agrees as the savings means that if the DP1500i ran for 40 hours a week, for a year, the savings in fuel costs would be nearly $50,000. The savings are not theoretical either, as Fritzen reached that conclusion after fueling and monitoring DP1500 and DP1500i drills that were working side by side.
Lower fuel usage has the corollary effect of creating less polluted air; in fact, according to Sandvik engineers the DP1500i’s fuel efficiency results in 35 tons (32 t) less carbon dioxide at 2,500 engine hours than is produced by its predecessor. The drill rig also boasts a patented dust-binding system that contains the worst of the airborne refuse thrown up by a penetrating drill bit, which means, all in all, that the machine is friendly to the environment, which is an important consideration anywhere, but a necessity on projects in Hawaii.
The DP1500i itself is a self-propelled top hammer rock drill rig 24-ton (21.8 t) tracked machine standing 10.5 ft. (3.2 m) high at the cab, with a lower center of gravity than earlier models, meaning that this optimized center of gravity provides a rig greater stability while operating. The rig carries a pivoting, telescopic boom, with the working end being able to drill holes 3.5 to 6 in. (8.9 to 15 cm) in diameter, as well as being fitted with a high-frequency drifter which boosts the rate of penetration. The DP1500i is powered by an interim Tier IV Caterpillar engine, with the engine’s fuel efficiency stemming from smart electronic control of engine speed, and air compressor and oil cooler fan operations.
The heritage of the Sandvik DPi series can be traced to the respected Tamrock Pantera family of drills, but the new generation rig certainly is not a hand-me-down. Rather, it is a comprehensive package of advanced features, developed over the last decade by engineers who continually stretched and refined the parameters for efficient top hammer drilling. What they ultimately created was a machine with exemplary performance, day in and day out, paired with such practical improvements as a larger fuel tank holding an incredible 180 gal. (681 L) so that refueling need not occur every shift.
Additional benefits are derived from the new features found on the Sandvik tools used on the DP1500i; benefits that are clearly evident to informed people like Fritzen. “I really like the new Sandvik GT60 tube steels. It helps to keep the holes straight,” Fritzen said, comparing the GT60 3.4 in. (87 mm) tube to the 2.4 in. (60-mm) rod on the 1500. “I like the GT60 shoulder drive component and the way the shank lines up. You get a better transfer of the drill’s energy to the bit and into the rock. That’s another reason why the machine is drilling faster and more efficiently. It’s a great performer.” Fritzen said the DP1500i was, “20 percent more productive right off the bat, compared with the older model. With the move up in bit diameter to 4.5 and 5 inches, we were able to maintain the footage and spread the pattern of drilled holes, which also reduces the drilling costs per produced ton. We’re very pleased with that.”
The new generation of button drill bits is a factor in increased production. However, it is the machine’s software that plays a crucial role in its enhanced function, with the “i” in the model number standing for “intelligence,” with Sandvik engineers crediting the machine with “practical intelligence. That is, the system can communicate to the operator vital information such as the condition of a hole being reamed from the rock, the parts and systems that need servicing, and the number of hours the drifter has been operating. When something fails on the computer-controlled rig, a self-diagnostics system is able to determine what part or circuit is experiencing the problem.
“Trouble-shooting is much easier,” said Chris Haynes, whose job is to keep rigs out of trouble and to fix them when trouble arises. “You get all the error messages on the screen in the cabin and they tell you where to look. The drill rig is laid out better than the older model to do trouble-shooting — the way the hoses are routed, the gullwing service doors, the way the components are installed. If the computer finds an error, it tells you exactly where to look.” The DP1500i also has a new air control circuit, which increases the efficiency of the compressor, a significant upgrade. As Fritzen said, “The DP1500i has plenty of air and power.”
A machine’s efficiency is not divorced from an operator’s efficiency, and the DPi series has not neglected to provide a safe and comfortable work space for the operator. The operator’s pressurized and insulated cabin has an air filtration system, as well as an optimum sized air conditioning unit, so the person at the controls isn’t distracted by discomfort. Bright and clear monitoring screens, armrest-integrated joy sticks, and a nimble drilling control system provide the operator firm control of their work, with the cab’s glass front providing high visibility with a high-tensile steel grille to protect it against flying rock.
“The visibility is better; the windows are bigger and there are more of them,” said Haynes. He added that Pete Peterson, the drill operator for Blasting Technologies, “Loves the new features, the improvements made on the machines. They (Sandvik) put the fuel tank and water tank inside the carrier so the tip factor is way reduced. I know Pete likes that because he is the guy operating the machine.”
The DPi series drills are quite simply a good fit with Blasting Technology, a company that is planning to expand its operations. The greater efficiency of the new models means that the company can keep its current work crew of less than a dozen people, and still take on more projects because of the 20 per cent jump in drilling productivity.
The equipment yard at Blasting Technology has now been entirely Sandvik for nearly 20 years. During those two decades, the company has enjoyed the working relationship with Sandvik sales and service personnel on the U.S. mainland