How to Sell Multi Feature Drilling Rigs at Standard Costs

“We never shy away from a new design because that’s what keeps things interesting, and that’s how our company has grown. We’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘well what about this? Can it do this?’ And then we make it do that (laughs).”

That’s Callum Mee from Dando Drilling International. I’ve been speaking with Callum for the last couple weeks about Brexit, Dando’s evolution as a company, and their brand new MK 2 Dando Terrier.

Read part 1

Read part 2

Here’s the final piece of our interview.

Kelvin: Last week we were talking about keeping costs down on the new Terrier Mk 2 while also ensuring it’s capable of pretty much anything. How do you plan to accomplish that?

Callum: The new rig comes with the ability to add or subtract components as you see fit.

So as you can imagine, there’s a lot of thought when a customer purchases the rig because they have so many options. As a salesmen it makes the job more interesting. juggling the options. We were selling a lot of different rigs and the terrier was 14 years old, so we thought the 15 year mark was a good time to evolve and modify it with new technology and features. We’re bringing it into the current age with new components, technology, and abilities. We wanted to build a rig that gave us and our customers as much flexibility as possible.

And so the MK 2 was launched with several new key features, one of the coolest of which is the ability for the customers to retrofit it with other options down the road. Hydraulic stabilizing legs, the rig will already have that capability. SPT casing will be standard, lever casing – these are elements the customer can retrofit themselves in the field or wherever they are in the world. People can use the rig as is and they can add new things, so they can maximize their budgets and purchase new attachments as required.

I feel like, mix and match drilling rigs – I feel like this isn’t a standard way of doing things. Is Dando blazing a trail for other OEM’s?

I think it’s just the path we’ve taken; this is how we’ve responded to challenges in the field, these are the solutions we’ve come up with. We’ve always dealt with customers directly and maintained our flexibility. A lot of big companies will come up with the best product they can and feel it’s perfect and leave it. That works fine, but we’ve taken a different approach. Every customer is different. It’s a commercial tool. Jobs are different, applications are different. Having all those options available to us makes things easier for everyone.

The terrier will be more user friendly than ever. This is where things are going, so I suppose we’re being progressive. We want to make life easier. Little examples, there will be easy-to-follow decals and signage demonstrating components that could be added down the road, so you know where to go next. Sort of like a puzzle, but the original pieces include a diagram to finish the rest of the picture.

So the best kind of puzzle.

(Laughs) Yes, I suppose so. The terrier allows customization down the road after the initial purchase. Some people just want a stripped down drive system and they’re fine with that, but some want to get more out of it.

Our standard line has grown so much over the past decade, but the idea now is to build upon what we’ve got. The terriers, the multi tech rigs, we’ve got all these new models, new sizes, the IBEC slope climbing rig we’ve introduced in recent years – we’ve got everything we need for right now, and it’s the perfect time to really perfect what we’ve got.

Perfecting what you’ve already got can certainly take you a lot further into the future, right?

Right. There’s always changes and challenges to come, but as we come out of this period we want to be in the strongest position possible. And with the new terrier, so far so good.

The new Dando Terrier Mk 2 has something for everyone, and we’re proud to contribute to its success here at Viking. Thanks so much to Callum for the time.

Happy drilling everybody!

See all the awesome features of the Mk2 Dando Terrier.

4 Ways to Commit to Offshore Drilling Rig Safety

According to the Wall Street Journal, “government and industry officials continue to wrestle with a problem investigators say was at the heart of the 2010 Gulf oil spill: human error.”

There are a lot of differences when you’re drilling into the earth below the surface of the ocean as opposed to setting up your drilling rig in the South American jungle, the northern Canadian prairies, or the brutal high arctic.

The main difference we’re going to focus on here is the isolation. Drilling teams could be stationed 25 km’s from the shoreline, but it could be 250 km’s and the same environment would completely surround the hard-working men and women who commit to that lifestyle.

Isolation, hard work, and extreme conditions are the perfect recipe for unfortunate offshore incidents. Here’s five ways to avoid those accidents.

1. Work Life Balance

Kind of a reversal of this post’s introduction, but since the biggest cause of injury is human error, it stands to reason that focus and concentration are keys to offshore drilling rig safety (not to mention drilling rig safety of all types).

How do we ensure we’re focused on the job? We take care of ourselves when we’re not on the job. Particularly when it comes to offshore drilling, an occupation that requires long shifts and intensive work, a healthy work life balance based on quality time with family and loved ones will go a long way toward refreshed, inspired work.

2. Patience

We’re obviously big fans of the front lines in the drilling industry. But the ambition that made a career working on an offshore drilling rig possible is also the attitude that can lead to mistakes.

Accidents don’t always have to make international headlines either. It might be quicker to pick up something heavy in order to move it – equipment, an attachment, you get the idea – but these impatient practices can lead to chronic injuries to the back, shoulders, knees, hips – the list goes on.

3. Behavioural Diligence

Diamond Offshore Drilling works with a program called the Diligent Observation Decisive Intervention process (DODI), an implement “built on the principle that targeting undesired behaviors for correction and encouraging desired behaviors will help us protect our most valuable assets: our people, our environment, and our equipment.”

Programs and safety measures such as DODI put the responsibility for safety not only in the hands of individual workers, but on the colleagues and teammates of those workers. Most of us consider ourselves invincible – it’s why we get careless and end up getting hurt.

It’s easy to miss a potential accident happening to you, but it’s tough to miss to see a potential accident happening to someone else.

4. Handsfree Operation

Hand injuries account for half of all injuries that occur on offshore drilling rigs. Safety is a priority on the water, and it starts with hand safety. This is why we designed our Scorpion Pipe Handler to operate completely handsfree. It’s human nature to get the job done quickly and easily, and when that blue collar mentality mixes with years of hands-on experience, it’s easy to see accidents happening as operators reach in to machines to make adjustments.

We’re not going to eliminate accidents entirely until we remove human beings from the front lines of offshore drilling rigs. However, we can implement new methods and technologies to prohibit the conditions necessary for accidents.

We all want to go home safely each night, but if we have to spend multiple nights on the water working for the offshore drilling sector, then we’d better be doing everything in our power to keep that job safe.

When Clever Beats Complicated: Viking West’s Catwalk Design

Picture the three or four most often-used tools on any job site. They could be anything, from a trusty wrench to a sophisticated grappler attachment.

Now imagine each was easier to use, installed quicker and accomplished its primary task better than ever.

Oh, and chipped in on a couple of other jobs as well.

While your wrench might already be close to perfect, there are plenty of improvement opportunities on any job site. One of those happens to be one of Viking West’s first designs as a company, and it’s helping operators all over North America with a fairly crucial daily activity: accessing and protection of their heavy machines.

The Catwalk.

Original Hurdles

Typical catwalks are large and awkward to handle during installation. Too large for one person to handle, too small to justify use of a crane in most instances, catwalks were a necessary piece that created headaches for the installer. To fit an after-market catwalk to a heavy machine such as an excavator or a forestry machine was typically a 3-day process that was labour-intensive. Catwalk kits were literally being custom fabricated directly onto new and used machines. 

Catwalk Design - Closeup
Catwalk Design – Closeup

Simple Solutions by Simple Designs

One of the best parts of working in the manufacturing business is finding budget-friendly solutions to common problems. Viking West’s Catwalk design accomplished just that.

    • Install time reduced from 3 days to 1 day
    • 1.5 person job reduced to 1 person job (Convenient C.G. lifting point)
    • No measurement required (each catwalk kit is manufactured to suit specific excavator or forestry machine model
    • Pre-primed & ready for paint
    • Reduced welding consumables

Not only is the Catwalk quicker and easier to install, it requires fewer welding materials as a hidden bonus. And it’s all accomplished with a clever alignment tab design that rests and aligns naturally to the top of a machine’s D-rail frame.

catwalk design Viking West
Completed Catwalk Design

Streamlining the Design Process

Products like the Catwalk might seem simple on the surface, but they’re indicative of a results-based industry that simply needs things to work.

I asked Kevin what was more enjoyable to create, low-tech products like the Catwalk or more sophisticated machines that involve more technology.

For Kevin, the answer will always come from the problem solved.

“It’s a tough question, but I enjoy both creative, technologically advanced designs as well as sharp and simple low tech designs. Both types are rewarding for me. But ultimately It’s always still about solving problems in the industry, helping the customer find solutions and looking for new ways to help them to be more competitive. Whether that’s a low-tech item like the catwalk or if it’s something more sophisticated, I get fulfillment just in providing solutions, big ones or little ones. It’s just rewarding to experience success in the field and to see our products working.”

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.

Product Profile: Double Wrench Breakout Table

“We designed the Double Wrench Breakout table not only to a superior level of safety, but we wanted an easy to use product as well.”

That’s Kevin Reimer from Viking West Engineered Products. The Double Wrench Breakout table model DBW280 is a completely hands-free operation that provides safe makeup and breakout of tool joints.

Past profile: the Scorpion™ Pipe Handler

Safety Features

Human error is an unfortunate reality of the drilling industry, and truly, any industry involving heavy machinery and its attachments. The tendency of operating men and women in the field is to use their hands to solve problems. That’s why Viking West creates products where hands-on interaction isn’t only discouraged, it’s impossible.

The Double Wrench Breakout table prohibits the operator from making contact with rotating pipe. Before breakout tables were put into steady use in the drilling industry, it was common to break joints using manual tongs or hydraulically assisted tongs which required an operator to physically attach the tong to the pipe, and lever it to lock it in place.

“I’ve heard of those methods referred to as knuckle-bashers or wrist breakers,” says Kevin. “If you weren’t careful you could really hurt yourself. I’m happy we’ve come such a long way.”

Viking West’s Double Wrench Breakout features:

  • clamps and holds drill pipe while simultaneously clamping and breaking joints
  • doesn’t require use of top drive
  • takes the strain so the top drive is not subjected to those forces

The Design Process

“This particular breakout table was designed specifically for a project for Dando Drilling,” says Kevin. “They were looking for a breakout table that was lightweight, physically compact and met specific parameters for clamping and breaking force as well as clamping range and the diameter of pipes it could handle. And it had to be light-weight and be able to attach to Dando’s machine conveniently. It needed to be a quick installation for Dando. That’s how it started, but while we were designing it, we also wanted to design something with a broad client use, so this table can be used in a wide range of drilling applications with various rigs.”

Related: Viking West becomes North American Distributor for Dando Drilling

The Result: a Safe Way to be Productive

Breakout tables need to be powerful and compact while being installed easily and economically onto new machines. OEM’s and clients with rigs are looking for a simple addition to new or existing rigs, and when it comes to clamping and breaking drill rods, Viking’s Double Wrench Breakout table does it rapidly, safely and is ergonomically friendly.

Viking West’s tong dies, the hardened teeth that grip the pipe, are a simple design which makes them easy to remove and replace when they wear out. “We really studied this,” says Kevin. “A lot of manufacturers have overly complex mounts that requires added wrench work and they’re slow to to remove. Plus they’re expensive. The Double Wrench Breakout is a simple, durable, low-cost design that’s easy to replace when needed.”

Further Double Wrench Breakout Specifications

Ergonomically friendly:

1. all grease points are easily accessible for maintenance.

2. the breaking cylinder is integrated into the assembly (rather than having a breaking cylinder that has a tail mount that has to be welded to the mast, the Viking West model is totally integrated so there’s no additional labour required.

Main Features:

  • Completely hands free operation, providing optimum operator safety.
  • Speed up make-up & break-out of tool joints.
  • Structure is fully engineered using the latest finite element analysis (FEA) 3D software.
  • Breakout cylinder integrated into assembly. No separate mount to weld onto mast.
  • Handles large range of rod/casing diameters. Customized clamp sizes available to meet client requirements.
  • Custom mounts to suit any drill mast configuration.
  • Innovative clamp cylinder configuration, clean hose routing, vibration resistant ORB fittings.
  • Hardened tong die inserts designed to provide solid sure grip that won’t break the bank.
  • Innovative holder design for quick & easy tong die change outs.
  • Simple clean design. Less moving parts means less to maintain.
  • Smooth rotation via thrust bearing design with conveniently accessible lubrication grease points.
  • High quality material grades & hydraulic components.
  • Swing out Safety gates add structural strength and protection from pinch points.
  • Optional 3rd clamp assembly.
  • Quality Warranty & Full Product Support.  

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 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.