Licence to drill


The drilling industry is one of the widest and most varied out there. The breadth and depth of drilling types requires a correspondingly wide-ranging collection of drilling rigs. What rig you hire hinges entirely on the kind of work it is that you need doing. With modern drilling machinery becoming increasingly expensive, rig rentals are becoming a more attractive proposition.

We spoke to John Rodgman, director of the Borehole Solutions drilling group, to get his thoughts on what rig you need, as well as any other considerations you ought to make before going ahead and hiring your drilling rig.

What’s the scale of your job?
It seems an obvious question, but you first have to consider what kind of geotechnical work it is that you need doing? There’s a big difference, after all, between carrying out some basic sample testing to determine soil characteristics, and using a rotary drilling setup to drill deep down and look for coal seams. To the layperson, they could both be constituted as ‘drilling’, and yet, in reality, their scale could hardly be more different.

Larger Rigs
Most drilling companies will offer rotary and cable percussion drilling services, with a good portion of them now also offering sonic drilling options as well. Rotary drilling is best used for quarrying or mining purposes. Percussion drilling is effective in both consolidated and unconsolidated formations and sonic drilling, with its clean efficiency and quick speed, displays its efficacy most in overburdened formations. Smaller Rigs

Sample testing, as previously touched upon, is on the smaller scale of the drilling spectrum. A handheld window rig is easy-to-use (and can be used by one operator), low-cost and delivers quick Drilling 184 band accurate results. If you’re looking for preliminary geotechnical work like a trial pit, then you will most likely only need a small JCB-type digger.

Does your project have additional limitations?
Not every drilling scenario is simple, in fact, very few are. Gone are the days in which geotechnical companies worked purely in rural settings; green, open fields with easy access and lots of room with which to work. Nowadays, in fact, there are very few environments which can’t be drilled in some way or other.

So, do some initial groundwork and consider whether you’re going to need a more specialised setup. You may need a restricted access rig, for instance, or a rig which houses the ability to work within limited space. First look at the drilling space, itself, and whether there’s room for a ‘normal’ rig. If not, then you’re going to need to use a rig which uses an external generator or power unit.

Alternatively, you could look at hiring a rig with telescopic masts, that can drill with only a couple of metres’ worth of headroom. If, on the other hand, the issue is getting your rig to the site, itself – perhaps through a narrow alleyway, for example – then hire a rig which has width-adjustable capabilities so that you can get through tighter spaces.

Do you need any additional extras?
One of the most common questions we’re asked is about the price of a rig hire, but in all honesty, there’s no one-size-fits all pricing structure. It’s very much dependent on the rig you’re looking to hire, how long you want it for, the rig’s condition, any additional extras such as casing alternatives, or track mates for especially muddy projects. If you’re working in the middle of winter in a waterlogged field, then your rig is going to need a little bit of extra support from a traction point of view. Otherwise, there’s a very real risk of the rig getting bogged down in the mud, which doesn’t help anybody.

Also, it’s worth making sure you do your research on the drilling company from which you’re hiring. Again, it may seem like stating the obvious, but many people are so preoccupied with the idea of actually getting their rig hire sorted, that they don’t do their due diligence beforehand. Have a browse online and ask around to find out whether the company has the sort of hiring experience you’re looking for. A good quality firm will take correspondingly good care of their rigs. Less experienced companies, on the other hand, or perhaps those companies who cut a few more corners, are more likely to let the condition of their rigs slide. That spells bad news for you as a customer, and it’s not unheard of for rigs to be hired and then conk out whilst mid-job. That’s added hassle and stress that you don’t need, as a customer, nor that you should expect – when you pay for a service, after all, you expect it to be a good one.

Borehole Solutions Ltd is a leading provider of geotechnical drilling solutions across the United Kingdom, and has been for over two decades. It offers an extensive and comprehensive range of drilling solutions, catering to any and every situation. The Borehole team has racked up over a century of drilling experience between them, and the firm is a proud member of various prestigious bodies within the industry – the British Drilling Association, CHAS, RISQS and Construction Line, to name but a few.
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