Boart Longyear hands-free solution improves safety performance

Image: Boart Longyear

With a remote control feature that provides 100 per cent hands-free rod handling, an innovative system from Boart Longyear offers a hands-on approach to driller safety.

The new LF160 drill rig and FL262 Freedom loader work hand-in-hand to reduce the risk of hand and back injuries on drill sites because there’s no need for the driller’s assistant to manually intervene to trip and align the rods, add or remove a hoist plug or connect to the top drive.

Introduced at MINExpo in September 2016, the tandem is already on the ground at surface coring sites in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Interest is also keen among contactors in Australia, where the strong safety culture drives demand for innovation. Boart Longyear’s own drilling services group had been testing the rig and loader for about a year before last autumn’s market launch.

The LF160, of course, is just the latest in a long line of innovative products from Boart Longyear, incorporating key features and proven technology from some of its most popular surface coring rigs already on the market.

What really sets this rig apart, however, is its ability to pair seamlessly with the FL262 Freedom Loader.

The combined capabilities of this dynamic duo open the door for contractors to target sophisticated drilling exploration contracts that stipulate some of the highest safety standards, without sacrificing productivity.

Depth capacity of up to 1800 metres of NQ capacity also accommodates the majority of diamond coring needs, including exploration for gold, copper, iron, nickel, zinc and other minerals.

Totally hands-free rod handling means just that – 100 per cent, not “almost” hands-free, as is the reality with some products.

The driller’s assistant can operate the radio remote control from a safe distance, away from the risks of the moving rods – anywhere he has a clear line of sight to both the rod and the driller.

With built-in tools and functionality, the system’s tilting top drive head is key to simplifying the rod handling process and reducing the need for operator intervention and maintenance.

This brings the rod close to the ground, allowing all joints to be made in a safe, near-horizontal position where the driller and his assistant have good visibility.

The tilting top drive head also results in the elimination of the mainline hoist, hoisting plug and water swivel management.

In any operation where time means money, concerns about reduced productivity are certainly understandable.

But with this system, there’s no need to worry. The FL262 Freedom Loader can cycle six metre rods in the same amount of time as a manual cycle, so productivity is maintained while safety is improved because of 100 per cent hands-free rod handling – a definite plus-plus.

Among other innovative features of the LF160 is its patent-pending visual wireline component.

The wireline winch drum is positioned in front of the mast, keeping the entire wireline system within clear view of the driller. This enables the driller to spot spooling problems quickly to avoid tangling of wire rope and to minimise unnecessary maintenance and downtime.

In addition, a versatile dual foot clamping and hydraulic breaking device eliminates any need or temptation to use a pipe wrench to break tight joints under pressure. And a rod making alignment device above the top clamp facilitates hands-free rod handling when adding a new rod by centring the top rod with the rod already in the hole, ensuring a clean stab and thread start.

A rod centraliser, mounted under the bottom clamp, keeps the rod string centred in the drill line.

To comply with varying emissions requirements in different countries and jurisdictions, the LF160 also offers the choice of a Tier 3 or 4 final engine.

Crawler and truck-mount configurations are also available, including options for both Mercedes 8×8 and 6×6 trucks specifically for the Australian market.

Contractors and drillers alike can rest assured that safety is foremost. The LF160 is CE certified according to the rigorous requirements of the latest EIN 16228 drill rig safety standards available, with various interlocks and dead-man buttons incorporated to prevent accidents caused by unintentional movement of the control lever. Customer- or site-specific modifications are generally minimal and easily accommodated.

Drillers and contractors are also reacting favourably to the rig’s comparatively low noise level, pointing out that hearing protection – while still an important safety requirement – is seemingly barely needed.

That’s because the engine and pumps are positioned as far away from the driller as possible, inside an enclosure with soundproofing materials. And the drill head itself, typically another source of noise, is quieter than many other drill heads on the market.

Like its customers, Boart Longyear is always proactive when it comes to ensuring safety. With the LF160 drill rig and FL262 Freedom loader, hands-free rod handling is the hands-on solution.

Zachary Strauss is product manager, capital drilling equipment, for Boart Longyear.
This article also appears in the June edition of Australian Mining.