Borterra’s new RodBot boosts drilling productivity

MEDATech’s Borterra drilling division has created the RodBot, as what the company says is an effort to battle the labour shortage across […]
Borterra’s RodBot in action. Credit: Medatech

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MEDATech’s Borterra drilling division has created the RodBot, as what the company says is an effort to battle the labour shortage across North America. The hydraulic, robotic pipe handler specifically for loading and unloading drill rods and casing. 

RodBot is suitable for mining, construction, and the oil and gas industry, says the company, and it can be adapted to work on virtually any piece of drilling equipment. Mounted to a drill rig, pipe truck or on a skid, RodBot is an easy tool for operators to master thanks to its computer-assisted controls with embedded collision-avoidance capabilities as well, it reduces the number of people needed on a drill rig down to a single operator. 

The company says multiple units are either working in the field or being commissioned for a variety of applications, including a new exploration-drilling unit.

According to Bonterra, handling rod and casing accounts for over 90% of drilling-related injuries and the manual work of inserting and extracting rod and casing typically involves a crew of two or three moving heavy metal cylinders from rack to drill head or vice versa. The aim of this machine is to reduce the likelihood of injury and increase speed of the workflow. 

“Moving drill pipe in and out of the mast can be the bottleneck in the drilling process,” said Scott Dalrymple, MEDATech senior design engineer and product manager for Borterra. “Until now, there has been no mechanized system that can do it as quickly as people can. But the very nature of the job makes it fraught with potential for injury.”

Borterra claims that RodBot eliminates 95% of manual rod handling, meaning only in “exceptional circumstances” will the rigs need more than a single operator. With RodBot, pipe and casing are picked up or put into the cradle with a precisely-controlled grapple. Once the operator has manually steered the pipe or casing to or from the mast, they can essentially hit ‘repeat’ and RodBot adds or removes rod or casing as needed.

“Robotic lifting and transporting has become the norm in many industries,” said Dalrymple. “The challenges of working in remote locations with diesel-only power have made it difficult to transfer car assembly plant-type robotics into a drilling environment.” 

For more information, visit www.medatech.ca.

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