As a company, Schramm has been around for more than a century. The West Chester, Pa.-based manufacturer works in a lot of different areas: mining, water, oil & gas and geothermal. This spring, they’re releasing a new drilling rig for the water and mineral exploration sectors. The T455 series, their first Tier-4 Final compliant offering, carries the ECO tagline.
National Driller spoke with Michael Dynan, vice president for portfolio and strategic development, at the recent Groundwater Week event in Nashville, Tenn. The conversation ranged from the new rig, to demands on contractors to meet updated emissions standards, to the state of the industry. This interview was edited for space and clarity.
Q. Can you give me some of the topline specs of the new rig?
A. For 2018, Schramm will have the new T455 series. It will be called “ECO.” What the ECO gives us is our attempt at meeting the Tier-4 Final emissions requirements. It’ll be available as a truck-mounted rig for the water industry, and as a track-mounted rig for the mining industry. Each one, whether it’s mining or water, will be tooled up specifically to meet the needs of drillers in those areas. … It’ll be WS for the truck-mounted, and GT for the tracks, but they’ll both have the tagline ECO on them indicating that they’re Tier-4 Final compliant.
With that, you’re looking at 40,000 pounds of hoist, capable of handling 3½-inch or 4½-inch rods, and there’ll be 25-foot sticks.
Q. On the water side, what’s your ideal customer look like for this model?
A. A new customer will be a great Schramm user who loves having the deck-mounted engine to power their high-pressure air, prefers the mobility of the truck-mounted rig — we can mount on either the International truck or the Mack truck. Right now, we’re specking Mack, the Granite series trucks, because they’re a little bit beefier, more robust. We like the Mack solution. So the ideal customer is going to be ready to move their business forward. They’re going to be able to win in contracts where emissions compliance is going to be a big deal. I can see that coming with government jobs or anybody whose work has an environmental element to it. … That’s why we put the ECO tag on it, to say, “Listen. We’re doing our part. We’re reducing the carbon footprint. We’ve got new equipment, state-of-the-art equipment, and we’re environmentally compliant and doing our part.”
Q. As you’re talking with contractors, are they telling you more and more that contracts require the Tier-4, require the higher standard of emissions?
A. It’s very regionally specific and it’s absolutely driven by the municipalities that are pushing for that level of status. We saw early signs of this in the California drought, where California was pushing to have state-of-the-art machines, carbon footprint reduction. As each of the states now are trying to “go green,” and manage their way through this, they’ll stipulate it for those government contracts or they’ll stipulate it for the permits before they allow people to operate. But, again, it’s a very regionally specific activity.
Q. So it could be at the county level or even the city level?
A. It’s almost down to the municipality level. There’ll be two standing right next to each other, and one will do it and one won’t. It’s spotty. … I think there’s a bit of a following mentality. Once one does it, more will put it into place. I think it will become a requirement, especially if they’re chasing what I call the new high school or new community center (project). If they’re doing traditional, residential water work, I’m not sure it’s going to be there. But I know on any kind of government-backed project it’s going to be there.
Q. What do you see as the top three must-have qualities for a modern water well rig?
A. Mobility. Most water wells are shallower. In order for a water well rig to pay for itself, it has got to be able to move quickly, easily and efficiently to different jobs. That means road legal and quick set-up time. … Second thing is, it’s got to have the horsepower/just power to ultimately, again, it depends on the geological formations, but the power to be able to run the big air and manage their way through having the capability to do the drilling. The third part is the safety. One of the things that Schramm brings is our experience across a lot of different industries. Good things are happening in the mining space with safety. Keeping guys safe and going home with all their digits at the end of the night, that’s what it is. So, you’ve got to have mobility, because that’s how you’re going to make your money. You’ve got to have the horsepower, because you’ve got to have the capability to do what you need to do, and then you’ve got to get your guys home safe at night. Those are the three.
Q. Does this new rig have safety features that earlier models did not?
A. Absolutely. We are working with some of our global partners. … We try to find the best of what we can, whether it’s in Australia or whether it’s coming out of South America. There are hands-free break-out systems. There is additional tooling that can be optioned into the rigs that allow guys to keep their hands out of the rotating zones. We take great pride in trying to find those tools to help out. We even had one tool on display from one of our partners, Metzke, which replaces the traditional pipe wrench on a water rig. We were introducing the MakorBreak tool there (at Groundwater Week).
Q. We’re doing this interview at Groundwater Week in Nashville, Tenn. How’s the show been for you?
A. I’ve seen more optimism. I think it’s been good. I’ve been in and out of a lot of these shows over the last couple years and people seem more upbeat — they really do. We’ve had good traffic, we’ve had good conversations, good technical questions and people trying to figure out how to do the right thing. More optimism. I think that’s the overall sentiment that I’d walk away with.
Q. What are your thoughts on the state and the health of the industry?
A. I think the real challenge for the groundwater industry is figuring out how to get costs out. I think the pressure to raise revenue will be a harder thing. The onus needs to go back to our methods and we have to be more efficient at what we do. I think our real innovation needs to be, how do we get costs out of the system so that everyone can continue on to the sustainability side of things?