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Dando evolves range to water a changing world

Dando evolves range

The drilling industry, like all industries, is subject to fluctuating demand, over which its participants have little or no control. The recent contraction across swathes of the civil-engineering world has put this into sharp relief. The observed reduction in activity has been wide-spread, with geotechnical investigation declining, not only in the UK, but in many previously buoyant regions with strong UK ties, including the Gulf and Australasia.

While conditions have improved, uncertainty persists over the strength and sustain-ability of global recovery, and many planned purchases of geotechnical and civil-engineering plant remain on hold or have been revised. There is a strong consensus that demand will return, along with clear signs that the industry will be well placed to greet this recovery when it comes. But, what happens until then?

Dando Drilling Rigs has been manufacturing and supplying waterwell-drilling machines for over 140 years. It has seen markets rise and fall, but has always kept the constancy of humankind’s need for clean, safe water at the heart of its business.

Dando managing director Martin Fitch-Roy said: “Dando has a long history and a strong brand built on supplying machines to get water from the ground, and this has remained our primary focus.

“As new industries and new applications for drilling rigs have emerged, we have evolved; something that I believe our broad product range shows. Often, we use what we have learned from waterwell drilling to inform the design of new products for the geotechnical and geothermal markets, just as we take innovations from these industries and improve our waterwell-rig offer.

“The main difference between the market for waterwell rigs and these other types of

machines is the volatility of demand. The manufacture of rigs for all aspects of civil engineering is certainly profitable, particularly when demand is as voracious as it was during the middle part of this decade, but it can be very cyclical. The volatility arises from the complexity of the underlying demand – demand for construction and related activity – and the difficulty of predicting it. The demand for civil-engineering plant is essentially a function of both the credit and the relevant asset markets, and while we believe that the medium/long-term prospects are very positive, it is to waterwell drilling equipment that we look for steadily increasing volumes.”

The main trends in waterwell drilling rigs are currently to do with scale. Ten or 15 years ago a rig that could pull 10,000kg was considered relatively large whereas, today, it is more common that aid agencies, governments and, increasingly, private drilling contractors are inviting manufacturers to tender to build 30t, 40t and even 60t-capacity machines. We have identified several drivers behind this trend:

  • Firstly, the increase in the scope of the large aid agencies in bringing water to increasingly remote and arid regions. This is probably in response to long-term improvements in funding and international consensus on the need to use ground water as a preferred resource in certain areas.
  • The necessity of deeper wells as poor management of shallower water sources allows unsustainable use, or climate-change affects the recharge properties of aquifers in current use.
  • Faster drilling is required as demands on governments and NGOs ramp up in the developing world in response to rising demand, and the deleterious effects of climate change on water availability.
For some time now, Dando has offered a large waterwell machine, the flagship Watertec 40. This rig is fast becoming the prime choice for government departments, often replacing the slightly smaller Watertec 24 model.

Another development is the demand for smaller, cheaper drilling rigs that are suitable for use by smaller NGOs, which are increasing in number at a dizzying rate. Dando has long advocated the use of low lifecycle-cost, cable-percussion drilling machines, such as the Buffalo 3000, for the developing world. But, in response to fierce competition from low-cost rotary machines, Dando has relaunched the Dando Gopher, a 2,000kg pullback model that is ideal for all forms of waterwell drilling.

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