Building it Better – Baur applies technology to cost savings


Thanks to the internet, today’s consumer has a huge advantage when it comes to making a purchase. One or two clicks allows several options to appear on the screen. The identical product may offer several different prices, and perhaps free shipping, bonus points, or other consumer enticements to keep the consumer coming back to the successful website. This is a great way for the consumer to save money, but it does not necessarily apply when purchasing business goods, industrial products, or construction equipment. The key questions the industrial buyer must ask are:

  • What does the price represent?
  • What is the long term cost of the investment?
  • Are there any hidden costs that may undermine the initial purchase price?
  • Are there any features on assets that may enhance or improve the initial purchase price?

With this challenge in mind, Bauer Maschinen of Schrobenhausen, Germany has always needed to justify its position of being one of the most expensive drill rig manufacturers on the market. Yes, bigger, better, stronger, more efficient designs have helped Bauer establish itself as an industry leader in high-quality, high-priced drilling equipment. However, if they expect to compete in a market where consumers have become accustomed to one click lowest price, they must incorporate design features into their machines with tangible assets and measurable cost justification.

Not only was this challenge presented to the Bauer sales team, but the design team was challenged as well. No more status quo. Give us something measurable with high production capability and lower cost of operation. Hence the development of these features are now incorporated into a growing cross section of the Bauer Premium Line Drill Rigs.

Let’s take a look at Bauer’s engine and hydraulic system technology. Now referred to as Energy-Efficiency-Package or EEP.  This energy efficient design will result in fuel savings up to a 30 per cent fuel reduction. Multiple measures to increase energy efficiency are combined in the EEP and coordinated with each other in such a way that a significant increase is achieved in efficiency and therefore, productivity. Extensive before and after comparisons prove that up to 30 per cent fuel savings is achieved in the winch operation of rotary drill rigs and up to 20 per cent savings is achieved in usual practice while drilling.

In addition, the implemented measures also lead to significant noise reduction during operation because the diesel engine and fan are appropriately regulated.

Energy optimization

The drive system of the main winch of the rotary drilling rig, with its significant share in energy consumption, especially during Kelly Drilling, was fundamentally re-engineered. The new system now makes it possible to recover the energy released during the lowering of the tool. Thus, the fuel consumption can be significantly reduced, especially when drilling deep bore holes. Further benefits are increased efficiently during lifting, higher speeds, and independent parallel operation of several functions (e.g. main winch, feed, swivels, and rotary drive). Energy consumption by all ancillary devices, such as fan drives and pressure supply units, was optimized. The already low values of pressure loss in the hydraulic hoses and valves of the Bauer machines were further reduced. A special hydraulic fluid with a favourable viscosity over a wide temperature range further increases the efficiency.

So with diesel fuel cost averaging $2.50 per gallon, the typical drill rig in production over the course of one year could generate fuel costs upwards of $45,000 per year.  That cost compared to a feasible 20 per cent fuel savings could result in an annual $9,000 cost saving. This could conceivably result in more than $100,000 over the life of the machine.

Singly layer winch

One of the more significant design features of the Bauer Premium Line Drill Rig is the “V” Kinematic design which is utilized in the higher torque product line. This feature allows the mast to be laid forward for removal and transport. The robust design allows for the rotary drive to operate at full torque over the full length of the mast. By reducing the pivot points of the conventional “lay back” mast design from five pivot points to three pivot points, the vertical drilling tolerances are significantly improved without sacrificing or limiting the maximum torque capabilities on the mast.

This mast design configuration also created a huge opportunity to relocate the main winch or Kelly winch to the upper house of the base carrier.  This winch relocation accomplishes several benefits.  Most conventional drill rigs with lay back masts locate the main winch at the bottom of the mast.  This added weight and huge physical dimension creates several problems:

  • The physical dimensions and the width of the cable drum are limited due to the available mast mounting space
  • Operational visibility can be impaired due to the location of the winch on the bottom of the mast.  This used to be a problem with rear mounted winches. However, high definition cameras and anti-spooling devices have eliminated this problem.
  • The reduction of non-productive and structural weight on the mast improves the machines stability while drilling, crowding, retracting the Kelly bar and swinging the rig with tooling, casing and drill spoils.

Therefore, by relocating the main winch in a piggyback feature, mounted on the upper rear of the base carrier, the above disadvantages are eliminated. However, this also allows the designer to seize other opportunities that will lead to cost savings and higher winch capacities while still achieving better stability of the drill rig.  With virtually no restraint on the overall width of the main winch drum, the Kelly winch can provide for single layer operation to as deep as 97 metres.  Winch capacities of 27 metric tonnes to 45 metric tonnes are also achieved as the norm.

So what does this mean in terms of cost savings? It is a loss of single line pull of approximately eight per cent to 10 per cent per added cable layer. Think about that. The 45-tonne winch that you purchased with your drill rig is now 40.5 tonnes on the second layer of wire rope. If it is necessary to drill to depths that require a third layer of wire rope, that 45 tonne winch is now 36 tonnes. The line pull of the Bauer winch remains constant at 45 metric tonnes to a depth of 96 metres. Did you get what you paid for?

In addition to preventative maintenance items like engine and hydraulic oils, gear oils, and lubrication grease, one of the most expensive wear items is the main winch or Kelly wire rope.  When the cable is operating in cycle duty operations, the cable in single layer application can last up to two to tree times longer than when operated in double layer configurations and up to 10 times longer in a three layer configuration. We have records of single layer wire rope life up to 2,500 hours as opposed to as low as 500 hours of wire rope life in double layer configuration and as bad as 100 hours in triple layer operation. That cost can extend out to a wire rope cost of $4 per hour in the single layer configuration.  The hourly cost of wire rope replacement worsens to as bad as $12 per hour when used in double layer and even skyrockets to $100 per hour in triple layer mode. These calculations are based on 45 ton winches with 40mm diameter wire rope and large diameter tools drilling to depths over 100 meters.  Exactly the production requirements that many drillers require when making significant investments over the duration of the life of the rig and project requirements that may present themselves over that period. The single layer winch could result in wire rope savings in excess of $200,000 over a 10-year life span of the drill.

Baur customer Benefit

Bauer Maschinen under the direction of Christian Gress, senior executive director of sales and Barbara Wasmuht, deputy director of marketing, have embarked on a training program to educate all Bauer technical and sales personnel on the extended features of Bauer drilling products that justify the real cost of investing in their products as opposed to the pricing represented on the proposal. Personnel at Bauer Pileco Inc. in Conroe, Texas, and Equipment Corporation of America/ECA Canada, located throughout the eastern United States and Canada have recently completed this extensive training at their headquarters in Pittsburgh.  Please contact your Bauer representative to learn how you can save more time through production and more importantly, more money, by understanding the real impact behind the costs and specifications.


By Benjamin Dutton, executive vice-president of sales and marketing for Equipment Corporation of America (ECA). Founded in 1918, ECA has become known as a leading supplier of Foundation Construction Equipment.  They offer full product support including sales, rentals, service and parts, tooling and accessories for the Bauer, Klemm, RTG, and MAT product lines.