Tunnelling with Drill King

Drill King International is well-known as a supplier of drilling products to the water well, mining, oil and gas sectors, but it also supplies equipment to civil construction industries and has recently been involved with the construction of Europe’s Brenner Base railway tunnel.
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Drill King International supplied its WAI 5.0 fluid hammer for use on the 30m single-pass drill rigs being used by Keller during its work on the Brenner Base Tunnel

At a planned 58km (35 miles) in length, the Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT) in Europe will be the longest railway tunnel in the world when construction work is completed in 2025.

The tunnel, which will run between Austria and Italy, is designed to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes trains to travel through the region by shifting them from mountain passages to underground rail.

Keller Group UK, an engineering firm that works on large turnkey projects in civil and infrastructure around the globe, relied on Drill King International (DKI) to provide it with the tools needed to successfully complete a section of the massive project.

Founded in 2004, DKI is a Texas, US-based manufacturer specialising in high-performance drilling tools serving the oil and gas, civil and construction, geotechnical, geothermal, mining, tunnelling and water well drilling markets in more than 70 countries.

Keller is using DKI's WAI 5.0 fluid hammer on the 30m single-pass drill rigs it is using to drill holes for grouting. DKI, in partnership with Bohrwerkzeuge Hoffmann Geschäftsführungs GmbH (BWH) of Germany, supported Keller on the BBT site with its proprietary fluid hammer technology. DKI's key differentiator is its unique ability to adapt the product materials and processes to meet the demands of each drilling project.

The WAI Fluid Hammer Line adds value by increasing penetration rates, minimising hole deviation, and lowering costs to the customers. "Drill King's ability to respond quickly with product innovations helped keep Keller on schedule at this site," says DKI International sales manager Jonathan Hurt. "The geology at the site created challenges, yet Drill King International team worked with field engineers and responded with innovative solutions."

A customised solution

The DKI team worked closely with Keller to identify what key issues were complicating the project. These included unconsolidated and abrasive geology, which created premature tool wear and shortened tool life. Alexander Losch, field engineer of BWH and Robert Hansson, field engineer of Geo Drilling Solutions [GDS] of Sweden, worked closely with Keller's engineering team to customise the tools to meet the demands of the drilling conditions.

Keller's team, led by Dr Cristoph Deporta, shared the frustrations with short product life and rig downtime due to the tough drilling conditions with DKI's team who quickly responded with innovations to enhance materials and processes, as well as fortify the stabilising ribs of the hammer with tungsten wear protection. The results were increased penetration rates, superior tool life and minimal rig downtime.

A results-driven approach

DKI's ability to work alongside its customers to understand their needs is its greatest differentiator from other manufacturers. "Whether they have pain points or problematic areas they are troubleshooting at a job site, we go to the design board to come up with a solution to meet the demands," Hurt says. "We customise our products to meet the needs of our customers."

Drill King is also pleased to further support and assist in this important tunnel project in 2020 by opening a new UK branch office and fully stocked warehouse. Hurt says of this expansion: "We believe it is the right time to expand Drill King's footprint outside the Americas as we see the European market as an exciting opportunity for us. Being closer to new and existing customers is a key factor and being able to give improved support is vitally important to any future successes. Giving easy and fast access to DKI's stocked range of first-class drilling products will offer the European market some new flexibility which is perhaps what has been missing in recent times."

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