The March Wrapup: Sonic Rigs & the Keys to Good Exhibiting

March was a busy month for the team here at Viking West. Vice President Kevin Reimer flew across Canada to co-exhibit at PDAC 2016, a convention held by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada that attracts members of the mineral exploration community from all over the world.

Back home in BC, we were busy exploring options for a local customer in need of a unique attachment.

So unique, in fact, that the machine it’s being built for doesn’t exist.


I caught up with Kevin to talk more about the new project and his experience at PDAC.

Kelvin: What are some of the keys to good exhibiting?

Kevin: Having a machine there for people to see is a necessity. There’s benefit to having something tangible they can see and touch, a machine they could potentially purchase for their drilling application. We have video of our machines in action as well as all our standard marketing literature. We bring a small machine normally, it’s easy and economical to ship. We’re toying with the idea of bringing a 4000 to Groundwater at the end of this year.

What are the specifications of Viking’s sonic drill rigs?

The first distinction is that we sell a large size and a small size. On the small size, we sell a mini sonic head attached to a terrier track drill or a Dando multitec 4000 track drill. On the large size, the full capacity, we can supply a sonic 50K drill head on a Dando 375 track drill.

The unique variations of these two sizes would be that on the mini side, we’re one of the only companies that can offer a small, limited access, lightweight rubber tracked drill with a small sonic head at an affordable price.

Where are both heads being used?

 The large-sized head is in North America working for an environmental drilling company. For the large head, we’re working with customers on a 375 size machine, full capacity sonic with onboard rod storage and pipe handling.

The small sized head is in south America sampling for gold right now. This head is used in muddy conditions in the jungle, it’s drilling into clays mostly. This is where the sonic head really excels, in soft unconsolidated conditions. If you drill and sample down to 100 feet with sonic you can achieve nearly 100% representative core samples. This is true both of the little and big machine.

Back to PDAC, did you talk to any potential customers about sonic drill heads?

We did, but most of the conversations centred on their conditions first. We learn what we can, then it’s our job to provide solutions. There were a couple clients looking for special custom drills specific for their market. These companies have to drill in jungles, in swamps and on the sides of mountains. Clay drilling conditions are quite unique so it’s always rewarding to be able to provide solutions for these kinds of challenging applications.

Ultimately, whether we’re dealing with sonic drill heads or custom tooling or other products, the key is to listen first. This is how you work smart. Conventions like PDAC, provided you’re prepared, are a great way to meet people in the industry and learn more about their unique challenges. This is the nature of our business, solving problems. The more we solve, the more seem to come our way.

Which is a good thing, right?

(laughs) You bet. It means our industry is working in more ways than one.

A Focus on Mining: Previewing the 2016 PDAC Convention

The mineral exploration and development industry is poised to expand in 2016. If the expected attendance at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention coming up in March is any indication, people in the mineral exploration and development industry are more motivated than ever to look for solutions.

While PDAC represents Canada’s interests primarily, 2016’s convention will welcome prospectors, geoscientists, consultants and mining executives from all over the world.

And Viking will be one of them.

I caught up with Viking West’s Kevin Reimer to preview the conference and get his thoughts on teaming up once again with Dando Drilling International.

Kelvin: The PDAC Convention is rooted in a rich history of Canadian mining exploits. What does it mean to present at this year’s show?

Kevin: It’s always a great opportunity to meet new people and learn how things are done in their corner of the industry, whether it’s customers or suppliers working in mineral exploration. People from all over the world attend, over a hundred countries come to this show. The sheer volume of people from every niche in the industry that attend is what’s great about it, it’s a fantastic opportunity. There’s everything from large mining corporations to small drilling contractors to individual mining engineers – you get a huge range of clientele coming. Precious metals, mining and mineral development – these are areas we don’t always get to dive in to on a daily basis, so we’re excited to get there and of course team up with our friends from Dando Drilling. 

This is the second convention Viking has attended in the last couple months – what are you looking to achieve at PDAC?

We’re looking to promote Viking’s product line relating to drilling and also our Dando distributorship in North America. Groundwater Expo had 5000 people attend, this one will be 20,000 plus. The projects we’re looking at here are a higher value, they’re multimillion dollar projects so they tend to be longer and more expensive. There’s more money involved in mineral exploration. It’s not as connected to oil extraction. These companies are drilling for coal, copper, zinc, gold. There is energy drilling as well, but this particular show is focused on mining specifically and mineral exploration. There’s some high profile companies on hand, such as Barrick Gold, Rio Tinto, Goldcorp; so that’s exciting.

What are you bringing to PDAC?

We’re bringing the Dando Terrier Rig. We brought it to the Groundwater show as well, but the focus here will be a bit different. Whereas Groundwater was related more with environmental awareness and sustainability, this show is specific to mining and mineral exploration, so it will be cool to demonstrate the Terrier’s versatility. We’re ramping up our attention on the mining sector this year and this show will obviously help that cause. 

The PDAC aims for a prosperous Canadian mineral exploration and development industry. How does this align with Viking West’s value by design mission?

A key component of this convention will be safety. Bigger mining corporations put a higher focus on operator safety, which isn’t to say smaller companies don’t, it’s just that these larger ones have more people working and more operations to pay attention to. That can be a tall order. Mining has always led the way when it comes to designing new safety measures, and the Terrier’s specs fall right into that mould. From the safety cage to the design – it’s a very compact, limited-access drill, and operation is simple and straight-forward. You’d use this drill for exploration drilling, you can take it high into the mountains or the jungle. It’s very capable, lightweight, powerful and has a light footprint. This is the machine you would use for exploration drilling when developing a property. 

What are the dates and details? How can people easily come visit you?

We’ll be in Toronto for the convention March 6th – 9th, and people can visit us in booth 6235N.

Looking for more details on the Dando Terrier?

Dando Dual Mast Terrier

The Dando Dual Mast Terrier has been designed to use a wide range of drilling techniques in the same borehole.

See the Dando Dual Mast Terrier specs

Dando Terrier Rig

The compact, versatile Dando Terrier rig has been designed specifically for sampling and testing for geotechnical and environmental analysis.

See Dando Terrier Percussion features

Dando Terrier Rotary

The rotary mast attachment for the Dando Terrier extends the rig’s range of use to include continuous flight and hollow stem augering, tricone & drag bits and rotary core drilling as well as DTH hammers.

See Dando Terrier Rotary specs

Our Review of Groundwater Expo 2015

The National Groundwater Expo held in Las Vegas this past year was an excellent opportunity for the team here at Viking West not only to meet and interact with some of our industry’s most intelligent and creative influencers, but to do so alongside our new partners from Dando Drilling International.

It was Viking’s first chance to attend a conference with Dando, and to team up to spread a common message to the new people with whom we had the chance to speak.

I caught up with Kevin Reimer to talk about the conference and what it meant both for Viking West and Dando, but also the drilling and groundwater sectors as a whole.

Kelvin: Since this was your first experience at Groundwater, what were your first impressions when you arrived at the show?

Kevin: The first thing I noticed was simply the amount of people. It was packed, there were people everywhere. I figured there might be a dip in attendance because of the state of oil, but I learned later that attendance came out at roughly the same number as 2014.

What were some of your early conversations and interactions like?

People were definitely interested in our products. We’re sort of the newcomer on the block, so maybe there was a little bit of sizing up (laughs). Seriously though, we brought along our Scorpion™ Pipe Handler and the Double Clamp Wrench, so people were very interested in seeing the designs and were impressed with the quality of all the components as well as the finished products.

It was great to have Dando by our side, they had their tooling display up and the Dando Terrier, so together we brought people in the door right away, which was great to see.

What was some of the chatter about amongst all the attendees?

Actually, the big thing that surprised me was that no one was talking about the economy. It was refreshing. Obviously the economy is a key indicator of success, or at least a driving force for the industry, but for the most part people were more interested in what we can do as an industry instead of what we can’t. People want to talk about solutions instead of excuses right now, so it’s nice to know that the investment to travel to the show was worthwhile.

We made some great contacts with new companies, so we’re going to spend the next little while following up on those leads and talking with people to see if there’s a way we can help grow their business with our attachments.

Were there any surprises at Groundwater Expo?

You bet, welcome surprises. One of which, right now our Scorpion™ Pipe Handler is equipped to handle 10 foot rods, and a large company we spoke with asked if we could create one to manage lengths of 40 feet.

This is the awesome thing about shows like this, it gives us a chance to learn more about who’s out there and what we can do to contribute to their business. Which, really, is the entire basis upon which Viking West was built. Learn about the work and the client, communicate, design together and enjoy the savings in the end. I love talking shop with new potential clients, or just people in the industry, because you learn that everyone just wants to do good work and push the economy forward.

Another cool surprise was speaking with companies interested in becoming distributors. We weren’t sure what kind of response we’d get, we had a big sign and everything, but it paid off, there are people out there who want to carry our products, so it’s confirmation that our relatively new company is on a good path.

Was the show long enough?

(Laughs) No, I could have stayed in Vegas for a little while longer. Even for two days though it was great to present alongside Dando. They’ve been in business for 100 years and we’re partners now, so everyone knows them, and by proxy they’re getting to know us as well.

The set up was good, it was organized, there was lots of room despite the crowd, so I really have only good things to report.

Sounds like a solid trip! Congrats guys!

Interested in becoming a distributor for Viking West? Let’s talk.

A Preview of Viking West at Groundwater Expo 2015

The team at Viking West is eagerly anticipating the 2015 NGWA Groundwater Expo being held December 15 -17 in Las Vegas. It’s an exciting opportunity to meet intelligent contributors across various industries, and for Viking West, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate the features and benefits of a new line of smartly-designed attachments.

I caught up with Kevin Reimer, Viking West’s Vice President, to bend his ear about the conference, what it means for Viking and what it means for the drilling industry in general.

Kelvin Cech: Other than the weather in Vegas, what are you looking forward to the most at Groundwater Expo?

Kevin Reimer: This is our first opportunity to debut Viking’s product line to the public so that exposure is obviously something we’re looking forward to. To co-exhibit with Dando is really exciting as well and we’re looking forward to promoting that relationship to the public. (Viking West recently entered into a North American distributor partnership with Dando Drilling, read more).

This is our first trip to Groundwater in partnership with Dando we’re excited to get there and reconnect. For both sides of the pond, us in North America and Dando in the UK, it will be great to reconnect with past customers face to face and hopefully establish relationships with new clients as well.

It all moves pretty fast, these events are all about people visiting our booth, viewing our products, and asking general technical questions. Time goes by pretty fast when you’re talking shop and discussing how our products can help them. It’s all about educating clients on how Viking can help them improve their safety records, increase productivity and save money at the same time.

I’d imagine there’s a lot of research into how other companies are doing things as well, right?

Absolutely, it’s an opportunity for Viking to get a pulse on where the industry is at. Industry trends, new technology, innovations. It’s hard to just leave the booth for me, but our team will have the opportunity to slip away to see what other companies are doing. Because Viking is an attachment company, we don’t build complete machines so there are opportunities to help other rig builders. We can design special attachments or new tooling that could help another tooling company. It’s not just selling to a customer who drills every day. Most of Viking’s success to date is working with OEM’s and equipment dealers.

It’s a two way street. Some of the big drilling companies might have resources tied up developing other projects, but we might be able to point out a development where we can make their machine better, so it becomes an innovative product built exclusively for them. We’re on the same team because we’re not a drill rig manufacturer, we just make select hydraulic attachments, not the entire drill rig. The economy depends on people helping others, so most people don’t spend much time worrying about competition. For us at least, we just try to make products that help people.

What are the benefits from attending the Groundwater Expo, aside from exposure in the industry?

There are cool technical classes people can take as well. You can attend a presentation on a big range of drilling-related topics. You get the full spectrum of drillers to geologists, CEO’s, supply chain managers, and influential people in the industry. So I guess that comes back to exposure a little bit, but if you want to learn more about your industry then there are great ways to do it. A lot of the key decision makers attend these shows to get a feel for what’s coming.

What industries are represented at Groundwater 2015?

It’s great to see people from such a range of industries. There’s scientists and engineers, suppliers, distributors, and contractors, who make up the biggest portion. These are the people who are actually in the field running the equipment, the people we owe the most to when it comes to safety and productivity. The second largest portion is manufacturers. Environmental, geotechnical, groundwater, and water wells, everyone wants to improve their designs and push the economy forward.

What are some of the key messages made by Groundwater and other events of this sort – what is the conference trying to accomplish?

From our perspective, you learn a lot from people coming to the booth and they hopefully learn a lot from you. It gives you a good barometer on the industry and how you can keep improving designs every time you build a new product. Our entire business model is talking with clients and users and determining how we can work together to build attachments that are better than their predecessors, and I think that’s the message and the goal of this conference; constant improvement through communication and innovation.

Look, Viking can’t be successful if we build products that aren’t user friendly. It’s a partnership, if our customers are successful using our equipment then by association so are we. Not only do we get a condensed format at Groundwater to demonstrate that process on the floor, but Vegas is just a great place to be and to reconnect with colleagues in person at a fun venue. It’s always nice to mix work with fun, so we hope to see a lot of friendly faces in December.

Safety Profile: The Hands-Free Operation of the Scorpion™ Pipe Handler

The primary responsibility of a sophisticated piece of machinery is to get the job done with as little physical human interaction possible.

Why? Because with fewer situations requiring hands-on operation there are fewer opportunities for human error.

The current state of the economy in Canada, the United States and in the international drilling community as a result of oil prices means that now is the perfect time to take a good look at how we can improve safety features and develop new products with innovative safety protocols.

The Scorpion™ Pipe Handler is a new design that Viking West plans to unveil at the Groundwater Expo in Las Vegas in December. The Scorpion™ is the result of previous versions designed and tested for specific safety features.

Here are the three key features of the new Scorpion™ Pipe Handler from Viking West.

Scorpion Logo

1. Lighter Design, Lighter Components

The added benefit of a sleeker design was the productivity that came along as a result. Not only is the Scorpion™ easier for workers in the field to handle, making it safer, the increased manageability makes it possible to get more work done with longer shifts. Safety was still the priority during design, but the added production doesn’t hurt either.

Key feature: The Scorpion™ uses hydraulic cylinders with progressive link which makes for a compact, simple design with smooth progressive 135 degree rotation range and stability.

2. Industry-First Clamping Assembly

In order to create a truly hands-free environment where not only is the worker dissuaded from interacting with the product, but is physically incapable of interacting, the Scorpion™ incorporates a unique patent-pending rack and pinion design, the first of its kind in the drilling industry.

This design guarantees simultaneous clamping with every instance of use. The rack ensures clamps are never out of alignment. With older designs, drill pipes can get pushed off centre and create mis-alignment due to uneven clamping.

Key feature: With the rack and pinion design, pipes are clamped dead centre below the spindle every time, ensuring human interaction with pipe is never required.  

3. Eliminating the Possibility of Danger

When pipes are misaligned with the drive adapter, the intention of the operator on the ground is simply to to reach in with a hand and manually pull or push the pipe. No one wants to imagine the accidents that can occur as a result of this interaction, but as the industry moves forward, it’s our responsibility to consider the dangers and find guaranteed solutions. The dangers associated with operator engagement of pipe handlers?

  • crushing
  • pinching
  • rotation

These instances are normally caused by human error. Hair can catch, clothing can become loose – danger happens when you least expect it. How do we eliminate human error? Easy: we use humans for their ingenuity and intelligence while we use the machines for their strength and stamina.

In summary:

The Scorpion™ was designed to create a hands-free environment.

The guaranteed centering of drill pipes creates accurate simultaneous engagement.

Interaction with the rotating pipe is eliminated.

The result? A safer workplace where more work gets done.

Come see us in Las Vegas for the Groundwater Expo December 15 – 17.

Details ->

Debut at Ground Water Expo, Las Vegas

Groundwater Expo 15Viking West announces that our innovative product line of drilling attachments & tooling will be revealed for the first time in public at the Ground Water Expo, Las Vegas – Dec 15-17, 2015.

Come visit us at Booth 1523 and see the new Scorpion™ Pipe Handler!