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Major Drilling Blazes New Trails for Drilling Innovation

By February 29, 2024May 2nd, 2024No Comments

“Major Drilling is an innovative company, and we want the world to know it, Marc Landry, Major Drilling VP Technology and Logistics, said. He is eager to introduce fresh developments that are transforming the way specialized drilling operates. New in 2024 are analytics packages known as TrailBlazer Rock5. The systems are beginning to be loaded onto rigs at Major Drilling locations around the globe.  

“We are leading out in our industry through innovation,” Landry said. He emphasizes that innovation is more than a hot topic at Major Drilling, it’s vital to the entire mining industry as specialized drilling projects go deeper underground, reach higher altitudes and are more remote than ever before.

“Every meter drilled with our Trailblazer Rock5 analytics connected is like shining a spotlight inside the drill hole,” Landry explained. “The way we have learned to capture drilling data and use analytics techniques is optimizing drilling operations for our mining partners, so we can get the job done safer and more efficiently.” He explained how installers are attaching computer systems to drilling rigs—systems that are adaptable to Major Drilling’s various drill models. The dashboard was designed in-house by the Major Drilling Innovation Team to track data such as drill function pressures, water usage and drilling performance.

Drillers in Timmins, Ontario, Canada meet with the Innovation Team to test analytics dashboards during core drilling operations.

Marc Landry reviews the Major Drilling innovation team’s contributions to technology advancements at an Indonesia underground drilling project during his January 2024 visit.

Years in the making, the Trailblazer Rock5 has been tested with the driller in mind. With timely feedback on drilling performance, we empower those in charge of putting the rock in the box to get the most out of every meter.” The system answers Major Drilling’s need to provide informative real-time data to drillers whether they are new at the controls or have years of experience. 

Landry said analytics are already a hit with teams on the ground and improves the entire drilling process. “Leaning on cutting edge technology, calculated drilling metrics are made available to the whole team managing the drilling program to provide assistance and support. Data and systems integration allow our customers to tap into the data that they have been waiting for, out of reach until now.” 

Innovating Globally—With Purpose

With a deep focus on detailed analytics and installation in 2024, Major Drilling isn’t stopping its innovations there. At 20 branch locations on five continents, drilling teams are optimizing services by collaborating on core retrieval technology, reducing fuel consumption, improving water use, adding more automated rod handling and other transformations. 

Major Drilling prides itself on having the expertise necessary to meet the demands of global specialized drilling projects. The management team alone has more than 1,000 years of combined experience and uses their knowledge to guide the continuous improvement of drilling performance. That’s a key part to why it’s possible to develop new ways to be at the forefront of innovative solutions. 

During a January 2024 site visit to Indonesia, Landry helped local drilling teams set the stage for even better levels of service and improved products for customers. From left to right: Rumada Wulan Manurung, HSE Officer; Marc Landry; Jon Emmerzael, Operations Manager; and Andrew S. Avudzivi, Mechanic Supervisor.

DiscovOre Prime is revolutionary coring system developed for drillers by drillers that is safer and faster than other available systems. The innovative core barrel head assembly (left) improves safety, speed and simplicity when put into practice by Major Drilling teams in Timmins, Ontario, Canada (right).

With mining companies making strides in technologies, safety and environmental, governance and social practices, the importance of innovation is here to stay. Major Drilling interlaces ESG principles into operations, making sustainability a priority. “Both environmental and social impacts, like fuel consumption and safety, directly correlate to innovation at our branches,” Landry said.

One recent safety innovation and improvement was a collaboration between Fordia Powered by Epiroc and Major Drilling to create a faster head assembly which resulted in a tool now widely used at Major Drilling called DiscovOre Prime.

Hand-Free Rod Handling in Suriname

When it comes to innovations in safety, such a broad term covers a variety of human interaction as well as technologies that improve the workplace. At the Suriname Branch, upgrades are underway to proactively reduce pinch points and minimize heavy lifting. There, Special Projects Manager, Michel Ouellette, a 40-year industry veteran, leads innovation at the branch.  

The Trailblazer SafeGrip automated rod handler, technology developed by the Major Drilling Innovation Team, undergoes testing in Suriname.

Ouellette is working to automate rod handling at Newmont properties. He expects rod handling innovations will continue to be at the forefront for specialized drilling contractors as the needs of clients push demand.

“I am happy to see that the equipment and fine-tuning needed to put these new TrailBlazer SafeGrip rod handlers into place is making the positive impact and having the ‘hands-off steel’ operation our client requests,” Ouellette said.

Continuous Development in Australia

At McKay Drilling based in Perth, Australia, teams have poured their collaboration and innovation into the greater company pool. Major Drilling opened a new chapter in its history of Australian specialized drilling by acquiring McKay Drilling in 2021. RC drilling teams are leading out with several innovations at whole new levels in the specialized drilling industry. This includes several innovations including: 1) saving energy by designing controls for boosters which allows for power on demand, 2) installing technologies to capture and deliver real-time drill data and 3) customizing drills for improved safety and efficiency.

McKay Drilling teams lead industry innovations in the Australasia region.

Energy-saving controls provide power on demand for Major Drilling operations in Australia.

Progressing Water Conservation

How do you show environmental stewardship and innovate to improve the daily use of water, a basic drilling necessity? Major Drilling’s Innovation Team found an answer. Water consumption is a major factor that impacts virtually every drilling site for both clients and drillers alike. Through extensive testing and development, the team meaningfully improved water conservation with a tool right at the project site.

Innovation Team members Ian Wilson and Patrick Salvador developed a system designed in partnership with an engineering firm to control water flow from remote pumping stations up to two kilometers away.

The TrailBlazer AquaLink remote water pump flow controller helps drillers conserve water with the turn of a dial.

A device, called TrailBlazer AquaLink, is a module installed in the drill that communicates to a flow controller in the pump shack located at the water source. The driller can adjust the flow in real time with the turn of a dial, rather than having water flowing at maximum, thus conserving the excess. The benefits? TrailBlazer AquaLink allows the driller to not only reduce wastewater, it also keeps water lines from freezing during winter–a win for all.

Sharing Innovation Success

As a trusted mining supplier, Major Drilling will always respond to the call of the industry in innovative ways. “We want the world to know we’re making a difference in the way specialized drilling operates,” Landry said. “We’re more creative, determined and effective when we collaborate and share this work with our clients and among our branches. I’m very excited to continue trailblazing for Major Drilling. We’ve got a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon.”

Follow Major Drilling onLinkedIn,X,FacebookandInstagramto receive the latest company news and updates.Established in 1980, and publicly traded as Toronto Stock Exchange ticker symbol TSX: MDI, Major Drilling is the preferred specialized drilling contractor for all tiers in the mining industry. The company has over 1,000 years of combined experience and expertise within its management team alone. It is creating value by partnering with customers and communities to discover minerals for building a better future. Major Drilling is a key player in the supply chain for the battery metals and critical minerals that are driving the green energy transition. Learn moreabout how to make your next drilling project safe and successful with Major Drilling.

Marc Landry, VP Technology & Logistics, oversees the Major Drilling Innovation Team’s global developments including Trailblazer products. He joined Major Drilling in 2005 and has been part of the Management Team since 2015.