A group of rig manufacturers share their perspectives on today’s drilling equipment.
By Lana Straub
The lifespan of drilling equipment can span many decades, and as a groundwater system professional, it’s often difficult to decide if and when to replace old equipment.
So Water Well Journal is trying to help. This month, we’re talking to three experts in the rig manufacturing industry to find out when it’s time to be out with the old and in with the new drilling rigs.
We’re also going over servicing equipment, new technologies designed to make your tasks easier at the jobsite, and more.
WWJ: What types of rigs does your company manufacture?
Cris Collins: We have a wide range of equipment, which includes auger/rotary, sonic, geothermal, and dewatering for use on large industrial jobs as well as smaller residential jobs.
Marcus Laibe: We have rigs for water well, geothermal, exploration, and shallow oil/gas.
Kristin Gannon: Taylor’s current line is focused on equipment with capacities from 100,000 to 225,000 pounds. Our current product line includes 125,000 and 225,000 rotary drill rigs and 100,000-pound pump hoists. Additionally, we are excited about several new smaller products including a 50,000 top head drill and 25,000 and 50,000-pound pump hoists being introduced later this year.
WWJ: What are some of the specifications that make your rigs unique?
Gannon: Specifications are important, but in most cases that’s not what makes a product unique. What makes our products unique is our people and our philosophies. We fully understand our customers’ needs and unique applications, then building a simple, durable, and high-performing product to meet those needs.
You will find we state exactly what our units are capable of doing. We are transparent about the capacity you can achieve from the crown to the ground on all of our products.
Collins: We manufacture many models of machines and equipment for drilling holes from 2 inches to 10 feet in diameter and drilling depths to 1500 feet. As the world of earth drilling continues to change, so does Gus Pech Manufacturing Company.
Laibe: We have several specifications that make our rigs unique: a cable/chain free, low-maintenance patented feed system, electric over hydraulic components, and load sense hydraulic systems for reduced fuel consumption. We also have the flexibility to build what the customer wants.
WWJ: Are any of your rigs designed for use in a particular part of the United States or in particular lithologies or applications that make them unique to the competition?
Laibe: No, our equipment is perfect for all applications around the world. We currently have rigs actively drilling in all North America/Canada, Central America, South America, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Collins: Our rigs are used all over the United States and around the world. We’ve designed rigs that can handle extreme cold winters as in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, and extreme hot climates as in Africa and South America.
Gannon: We’ve traditionally built larger rigs at and above 100,000 pounds used in the municipal and agricultural markets in the western United States and south Texas. We’re now using this experience and success in those markets to develop smaller units to meet the needs of our customers in various other states and applications.
WWJ: What are some of the first rig technologies your company implemented?
Gannon: Taylor has always focused on making the work easy for the operators. Whether it’s running tongs or changing oil filters, the unit must be designed to make operations easier and safer for the operator and crew. When we set out to develop a new product, we focus on how the crew interfaces with the rig. This approach has delivered several industry innovations including hydraulic tilting rotary tables for large diameter casing, side mount operator consoles to improve driller visibility and safety, and innovative hydraulic systems to improve rig control and maintenance.
Laibe: Our company has had many firsts, including automated rod handling on our drilling rigs. Some of the others are our custom AWD chassis designed with a single gear box and a direct drive compressor for a drill-first approach, electric over hydraulic components, and load sense hydraulic systems.
Collins: The first rigs used cast gears, sprockets, chain, and clutches and were powered by horses, later by steam, and then they’ve progressed to gasoline.
WWJ: What types of diesel technology changes have you made in recent years?
Collins: Diesel powers most of our rigs now, either by power unit or use of the truck diesel engine through a transfer case drive system. We use Tier 3 and 4 diesel engines.
Gannon: Taylor was one of the first in the industry to adopt the new Tier 4 engine packages. We’ve been installing Tier 4 packages for more than 10 years and this experience in both on and off-road engines gives us a significant head start on the industry in meeting upcoming Tier 4 off-highway requirements.
Laibe: We work closely with our suppliers to manufacture a sustainable clean diesel drill rig.
WWJ: What type of driller comfort changes have you made?
Laibe: Our automated rod handling provides safe and hands-free, endless rod handling.
Collins: Technology has changed the way drilling rigs are put together. We went from gears, clutches, and sprockets, a labor-intensive operation, to hydraulic and hydrostatic systems, which offer fingertip controls and is an extremely less labor-intensive operation.
Gannon: The biggest changes we have made is in operator control location and configuration. Traditional rig designs position the operator’s back to the work and many of the critical controls are hard to reach. Not only can this be dangerous, it’s a physical strain on the operator. Taylor positions the operator to face the work while still being able to reach the controls, watch the block, or assist the crew if needed. Another element of driller comfort we look at is the locating of service points in easily accessible locations and providing better access to uncluttered rig decks.
WWJ: Are your rigs equipped with any special computerized functions that make them more desirable than others?
Gannon: In general, we feel our customers prefer mechanical systems which are simpler, more reliable, and easier to service. We do offer electronic Posi-Stop devices for each drum that allows the operator to set the height limits on the blocks to prevent crown out damage. In addition, we offer digital Murphy power screens in the cab which is an upgrade from the traditional manual gauges most are used to seeing. Other customized solutions such as line weight indicators are available as well.
Laibe: Yes, our patented automated rod handling is computerized.
Collins: Because drill rigs are out in the changing environments, we use state-of-the-art weather-tight electronics and computer systems.
WWJ: Rig purchases are sometimes long-term investments, especially for smaller businesses. What are some of the reasons readers should give up their older generation rigs and purchase new?
Laibe: The cost of downtime and maintenance can be costly. Keeping up with new rigs and new technology closes that gap. Drillers should be doing what they do best, drilling! Not fixing their equipment or breaking their back with old, outdated technology.
Collins: Parts may be difficult and expensive to get, and service can be difficult to come by. Our new drill rigs are designed for ease of operation and service.
Gannon: The decision to purchase a new rig should always come down to a few simple questions: Will the new rig be more reliable, efficient, or cost effective than an older unit? Will a new rig with additional capacity open new markets or attract new customers? Is a new rig going to be safer for my crews than the current unit?
“When we set out to develop a new product, we focus on how the crew interfaces with the rig.”
WWJ: Do you offer any special incentives for readers to purchase your equipment over competitors?
Collins: We design and customize the drill rig to meet the customer’s needs. We welcome the customer’s input in the planning process so the drill rig is ready to go to work the day it arrives in their yard.
Gannon: The special incentive for customers to consider Taylor is what we said earlier. If a customer wants a simple, reliable, high-performance unit built by a group of people who are exceptionally passionate about exceeding customer expectations, then we might be the right vendor for you.
Laibe: Our equipment is 100% designed around low maintenance and ease of use. I guarantee Versa-Drill has the smallest parts sales of any other manufacturer simply because we make the equipment too well with low maintenance in mind.
WWJ: Do you offer any special warranties or service after the sale that make your company stand out among your competitors?
Collins: The company’s reputation as a family-owned company helps us stand out in the industry. My brother Gregg and I are third-generation owners and we are very hands-on. We have great employees that know their jobs and enjoy helping the customer. We have a one-year warranty and we will send out our service techs if we can’t troubleshoot the problem over the phone or web.
Gannon: Our product support program is one of the things we are most proud of. First off, our manufacturing systems are API- and ISO-compliant. Thanks to this obsessive commitment to quality, we can offer one of the most aggressive warranty programs in the market. Our full one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty and new three-year structural warranty is unmatched in the industry.
Laibe: Our service department is the most capable in the industry. Each of our service technicians has had real field time and build time. They are all capable of troubleshooting anything and walking anyone over the phone through an issue. Not to mention, if needed, we can be anywhere a rig is in less than 24 hours.
WWJ: Are there any technologies on the horizon you’d like to give the readers a sneak peek at?
Laibe: We’re constantly working with our vendors to better our product. Yes, we have new ideas on the way, all of which are centered around weight reduction and reliability.
Collins: We’re working a couple of new style of rigs right now that are designed for the ever-changing drilling market and hope to have one of them at the next national convention.
Gannon: We’re excited about introducing our new 25,000-pound and 50,000-pound pump hoist and 50,000-pound top drive drill later this year.
WWJ: Where can readers get more information about your company?
Gannon: Call us! This is the best way for us to learn about our customers’ operations and help us better understand how we can make them more competitive in the market they serve. Additionally, customers can get more information from our website, www.taylorindustries.net. For those who prefer social media, we’re available on Facebook and Instagram.
Laibe: Our new website that just launched is www.versa-drill.com.
Collins: Our website is www.guspech.com and we’re working on our social media sites.
WWJ: Is there anything else you’d like to add to the conversation?
Laibe: Versa-Drill is family owned and 100% made in the United States. We work with our customers firsthand and build what they want.
Collins: When something affects water around the world, we probably have something that will help the situation. If not, we’ll figure something out.
Gannon: We’re appreciative you included Taylor Industries as part of this interview, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone in December in Nashville.
Lana Straub, with a background in the legal and financial aspects of small business, is the office manager of Straub Corp., Stanton, Texas, an environmental and water well drilling firm owned and operated by her family for 60 years. She can be reached at Lana@StraubCorporation.com.