The Benefits of Improved Tooling Products

“An essential aspect of every job, particularly during the current economic climate, is tooling products. They have to perform, they need to be ready to go and they need to be budget-friendly.”

Kevin Reimer, Viking West

The Problem with Tooling Products

A team is only as strong as its smallest player, just like every drilling or manufacturing project runs only as well as its tiniest component. Every drilling company has a story about an interrupted job because a bit broke or another piece of tooling wore out. Once that happens, there’s not much the driller can do except wait for new tooling to arrive.

And those expenses add up.

Tooling is a consumable that eventually has to be thrown away. 

Tooling needs to be:

  • Cost-friendly because it won’t last forever
  • Durable with high-wear properties so it lasts as long as possible
  • Readily available because the job must go on!

    Tooling Products Designed by User & Manufacturer

“Viking got into tooling because of relationships we have with local drilling contractors frustrated with long lead times and costs,” says Kevin. “They asked us to study different pieces of tooling and if we could come up with something better than what they had, we’d have a deal. So we did, and we were able to provide them with savings and a quality product.”

Relationships between manufacturer and the end user are evolving. Both sides of the table want to save costs, says Kevin.

Large volume manufacturers can’t always adapt quickly or efficiently to specific circumstances that make unique tooling necessary for a specific project. Sometimes slowing down and taking the time to listen to the customer and customize a product simply isn’t worth their time or energy. 

Viking West’s goal is to add value wherever possible. Whether it’s designing high-performing carbide patterns or selecting wear resistant materials, the mission is to fit the customer’s requirements, specifications and budget.

“Working face to face also allows us to save costs and pass those costs on to our customers,” says Kevin.

Save Time, Money & Energy with Custom Tooling Products

Your equipment needs to work. It’s crucial to avoid costly mistakes in the future.

And for Kevin Reimer and the team at Viking West, that’s part of the rewards of their work.

“We recently completed an order for a drilling company that was working with a tooling supplier, and the bits they were buying weren’t performing as long as they wanted them to, and they were expensive,” says Kevin. “And the lead time was long just to get their tooling. So they came to us and we designed a custom bit that has more tungsten carbides in it, provides more wear resistance and it’s a lower price.”

The future of the drilling industry in Canada as well as North America and the international stage will depend on smart decisions and savvy investments.

Tooling products might seem like a relatively small piece of the puzzle, but they’re actually critical pieces that will make a huge impact.

Why Dando Drilling Chose Viking’s SPT Auto Hammers for their 4000 Series Drill

Last week I caught up with Callum Mee and Rupert Coler from Dando Drilling over in the UK. While it was early for me and late for them, the guys were more than happy to chat about their recent partnership with Viking West and to talk shop with regards to Viking’s SPT Auto Hammers.

Read last week’s post.

“The first consideration is that we have a long history with products that are 40 and 50 years old, products that have been in the field for a long time and need attention,” says Rupert. “And that says a lot about our track record, so this particular piece, the SPT Auto Hammer, we know it’s the perfect fit, literally. We’ve seen all kinds of attachments, and we’re excited to find something that will work so well.”

“These Auto Hammers give us the flexibility that our customers want,” says Callum. “Whether it’s new rotary heads or other custom products, we’re not scared of turning around large major rigs in a short time. Having producers like Viking West helps that.” 

How will Dando Use the SPT Auto Hammers?

We started out by fitting it onto our Multitec 4000 series drill and now we’re planning on fitting it to our Multitec 9000 series drill,” says Rupert.

The hinge mount set-up is specifically designed to suit each rig model. Viking engineers worked closely with Dando to supply a complete package ready for fast and convenient installation. Even though Viking West is based in Vancouver, B.C. about 4700 miles away, they are able to meet Dando’s landed cost target and support Dando with an inventory Kanban system so there is always hammers and spare parts on hand for when Dando needs them for the next rig build.

Watch the SPT Auto Hammer in action.

This drill utilizes our tooling line which allows us to take large samples relatively quickly and cheaply,” says Rupert. “It’s a versatile system, capable of augering, coring, hammer-drilling and all the typical methods. It really does cover all the bases, it’s a powerful machine.”

Why Will Customers Choose the Viking West/Dando Drill?

“Specifically, with the Viking West Auto Hammer the head travels so you don’t have to re-set every time,” says Callum. “Also, one of the great advantages is it makes the whole system less bulky. Before you’d have a massive piece of fabrication and now it’s a very compact, slick application.”

Traditional SPT hammers require movement to swing the piece into place with a rotary head, which was a laborious, time-consuming process. With Viking’s SPT Auto Hammer there’s no chasing, you can effortlessly pull the entire set-up straight out.

“These auto hammers help customers work more quickly without sacrificing quality or even safety. Companies can get more done in less time, too.”

3 Locations Using the Dando Multitec 4000 Series Drill

The Multitec 9000 drill is on the way, but some pretty important areas around the world are already using the 4000 series drill fitted with the Viking SPT Auto Hammer: Panama, Bolivia and Chile. Service to these areas will be improved even more with the 9000 version and Viking West’s SPT Auto Hammer attachment.

According to Callum and Rupert, flexible machines allow coring companies the ability to diversify or at least have the option to diversify in the future. “When it comes to geotechnical work,” says Callum, “customers want a flexible attachment that can do more than one job. Cost is a factor as well, so it pays to have flexible equipment that can tackle more projects”

Companies often buy rigs such as the Multitec 4000 for geotechnical purposes but use it for coring later on. When funds are scarce, as they are for pretty much every company working in drilling, forestry or oil and gas, the ability to accept more work in the future is a vital advantage when buying new equipment.

“Our client in Panama was buying the rig for mineral work and ended up using it for coring,” says Rupert. “The Viking SPT Auto Hammer is a small add-on but it opens the drilling contractor to a whole other industry.

“With the SPT Auto Hammers from Viking West, that process will become viable for more companies, and that’s something both us and the team at Viking West are proud of.”

SPT Auto Hammer Specs

140 lb (64 kg) drive weight, no cable or rope, multiple swing hinge mount options to suit your rig and fully enclosed for optimum safety.

Conforms to ASTM Standards D1586-99.

Viking West Becomes NA Distributor for Dando Drilling Products

Dando Drilling is one of the oldest rig manufacturers in the world. As such, the UK-based design and manufacturing company has experienced firsthand the ups and downs of an ever-fluctuating economy. In fact, Dando was actually created to deal with a crippling blow to the public – a cholera outbreak in 1867.

Established to produce equipment to drill for water, Dando quickly began supplying equipment throughout the world, particularly Africa, in order to support regions affected by the outbreak. Dando would eventually expand into geotechnical services, minerals and specialist projects.

And now, 148 years later, Dando is teaming up with Viking West so they can expand again. This time into North America.

I was able to steal some time from Callum Mee and Rupert Coler from Dando to learn more about their agreement with Viking West.

Kelvin: Tell me a little bit more about Dando, specifically how you work and what led to this agreement with Viking West.

Rupert: It actually started ages ago when Kevin Reimer was working as Operations Manager for Sonic Drill Corporation (SDC). We were involved with a drilling rig project putting a new Sonic head onto a Dando rig. Kevin and I worked quite closely. Kevin joined Viking West as Vice-President over 2 years ago and we kept in touch since then and naturally started fitting Viking West products to our rigs and the relationship just grew from there to the point where it’s just a good fit to help us expand into North America and to create some exposure for Viking West in Europe as well.

Kelvin: What’s important about this relationship for both sides?

Callum: America is a strong market, well I should say it’s a leading market, it’s influential. But we haven’t had a strong presence this side of the Atlantic until this point. We’ve focused on the developing world while over there in America it’s more developed. The market has changed, people are looking for multi-purpose rigs and maybe not such large and singular dedicated rigs and that’s something we’ve always been involved in. Bigger has always been better but that’s not the case right now. North America is starting to see the benefits of using smaller machinery.

Our product range fits quite nicely, we have a large multi-purpose product range which is great and we are excited to debut our products alongside Viking West at the upcoming Groundwater Expo in Vegas, Dec 15 to 17th this year. 

Kelvin: So it’s a mutual ability to gain exposure to a new way of doing things. Except for you guys, starting with the developing world, cost efficiency is something you’ve valued for a long time. So then how do the customers of both companies benefit from this arrangement?

Callum: The in-country support will be huge. Viking West’s offices are strategically located in all those regions and they’ve got people on the ground doing great work. We have agents in a lot of countries we trade with, but having a relationship and background with Viking West made it a very simple move for us to enter the market. 

Rupert: Kevin is a very experienced drilling rig salesmen, the team is strong in the industry so we’re hitting the ground running. Both companies value customer interaction and working with people to make new things, so it’s a natural fit.

Kelvin: Talk about the values shared on both sides of the pond when it comes to the drilling industry in general.

Callum: It’s a cliche, or at least it should be a cliche, but both ourselves and Viking West are companies that delegate experience, we work with other experts to maximize value for our customers. Rupert and I are both strong on family culture and Viking West has the same mindset. We’ve become quite close with Mike Schlender, Viking West’s president and Kevin and we’ve all seen the same opportunities.

Rupert: Since we started with this company, the company itself is built on helping people. Our main ethos is producing good quality and rugged equipment that lasts a long time. It was originally for the developing world because of the lack of funds when it comes to replacing pieces or repairs. The developing world can’t afford that, but the products still need to work, in fact they need to work better because there are fewer skilled workers. And now the developed world is catching on, and Viking West is helping us spread the word.  


The distribution agreement is one of those true examples of a win-win scenario. Viking West is happy to partner with a company with such a positive, valuable mission statement, and Dando is proud to expose the rest of the world to a process that’s been working wonders overseas for almost 150 years.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next century and a half.

See more from Dando Drilling

Viking West Profile: Building a Company with a New Approach

When Mike Schlender and Kevin Reimer started riding mountain bikes together through the thick trees blanketing the mountains of North Vancouver, British Columbia, what they didn’t initially realize was that a new company was waiting for them just around the next bend.

The two believed they simply had a connection because of their passion for cycling adventures in BC’s back country, but as time went on it was evident they had a lot more in common. Both are engineers and both have spent more than 20 years working with industrial products and manufacturing heavy equipment.

And both were ready for a new challenge.

After countless hours of sharing stories about their work and industry experiences it became clear they also shared an idea that they could join forces and create a business with a new approach. But like a well-built Scorpion Pipe Handler, it took a fair amount of testing to bring the final product to market.

I caught up with Kevin and Mike to learn more about their vision for Viking West and how their cycling outings have led to a diversified product engineering and sales company with a global manufacturing and distribution network.

Kelvin Cech: You built this company with a unique approach, tell me about that.

Mike Schlender: My background was in working with construction machinery. What I saw at the factory was we’d either be installing the attachments or we’d sell the equipment to an end user who’d install the attachment themselves. On the OEM equipment, the product support and service and the after-sales was very good, but there was room for improvement on the attachments. I saw the frustration in a lot of customers with that gap.

KC: How did that turn into starting this company?

MS: The niche we went after was cost for sure, but to also design that product with knowledge contributed by the customer. We believed we could design sophisticated products with precisely what the customer wanted, so we’d be able to save on costs and pass that along to the customer.

KC: So it’s quite a bit different from building an attachment and putting it on the shelf and hoping it sells.

MS: That’s right. Some of the designs are pretty established on the construction side, they’re products that have been around for awhile and we can do that as well, but where we’re taking this is with custom products built with the end user in mind. We take what our customers tell us and find ways to maximize the value we can provide by optimizing the design, or as we like to call it, value by design. By leveraging many of the new technologies available for product design and rapid prototyping we can analyze things like stress points and other potential performance problems before the design gets too far. A lot of the industry right now relies on trial and error, or waiting until something breaks before they fix the problem. And that costs time and money.

KC: Why does this mission work so well?

Kevin Reimer: I left my current employer with the intention of starting my own company and Mike was in the same boat. Mike and l first crossed paths through our association with CME (Canadian Manufacturers & Exporter Association). The great thing about riding bikes is that not only is it a great outdoor workout, its also a very social activity. There’s usual time to chew the fat, talk about life, family and work. I remember clearly the day Mike brought up his vision for Viking on a bike ride, and we had to stop and look at the opportunity that was right under our noses. We had a previously strong working relationship that we knew would be complimentary. My background of 20 years was mobile mining and drilling equipment and Mike’s background is mobile forestry and construction equipment. So we knew mobile tracked equipment inside and out across different industries. There’s attachments on the drilling side and attachments on the forestry side. We took that combined experience and with Viking West, we wanted to take it further by placing a priority in the end user. We started discussing opportunities with our clients to learn what was working for them and what wasn’t.

KC: And then you started making things for them?

KR: Correct. We have a number of unique products that fill an previously untapped niche. Things like the Scorpion (Pipe Handler). It’s a simple business model but it’s an effective one.


Often the times we least expect inspiration to strike are the most popular. Times like riding your bike, for example.

For Mike Schlender, Kevin Reimer and Joe Li, and for the entire team operating under the Viking West umbrella, the heavy equipment attachment industry is certainly happy that inspiration chose that particular moment to strike.