Are friends electric?

During the production schedule of this issue of GDI, I took a week out to go to Germany and attend Bauma – the trade event for the construction industry which is held in Munich every three years. It was my first visit to Bauma and despite al the stories I had heard about the show nothing could prepare me for the sheer size of the event. Spread 614,000m2, over 3,700 exhibitors were displaying products and services not just related to construction but also the drilling, tunnelling and mining industries.
Are friends electric? Are friends electric? Are friends electric? Are friends electric? Are friends electric?

Liebherr's world's first battery-powered drill rig

Duncan Moore


Duncan Moore

Bauma not only provided me with a great opportunity to meet many of the people who contribute to GeoDrilling International monthly issue, both editorially and as advertisers, it also gave me the chance to talk to readers too. However, perhaps, more importantly, it gave me and everyone else who attended (more than 620,000 visitors from over 200 countries if you're interested) an insight into what lies in the future for the industry.

If there was one over-riding trend at Bauma it was definitely electrification. While the move toward electric vehicles has been steadily gaining ground in the mining sector other areas of the drilling industry have been slower to adapt. However, that looks set to change following Liebherr's displaying the LB 16, the world's first battery-powered drilling rig. Meanwhile across the showground, Bauer had its electric powered (from a mains supply) MC 96 duty cycle crane equipped with a trench cutter. While those two may have been the largest examples of the trend for electrification there were plenty of other examples to be seen of how electrification is changing the face of the industry.

The other trend that couldn't be ignored at Bauma was the move towards automation and the use of AI to further that change. More and more companies are looking at ways of removing the operator from dangerous situations either through the use of remote-control options or doing away with a human operator all together and relying on machine learning and artificial intelligence to operate the machinery.

How this move away from having a human influence will play out in the long-term remains to be seen. The biggest stumbling block at this point in time is cost. However, as has been seen time and time before as new technology gains in acceptance and use so too the prices fall. It remains to be seen for how much longer drill operators will be required on job sites.