Spotlight on technology: how automated pipe-handling systems are making the Derrickhand’s job safer

Trinidad Drilling Rig 58

A Derrickhand stands on a rig 90 feet up into the sky. From there, he aligns pipes and directs them from the racking board fingers to the top drive, and vice versa.

The work is intensely physical, and there are always safety concerns, as well.

That’s why Trinidad Drilling is moving to an automated pipe-handling system on the derrick. It’s an exciting new development, both for safety and efficiency, and Trinidad has been testing it for about a year.

With the new system, the Derrickhand is comfortably inside the doghouse, instead of up on the monkeyboard. Instead of manually handling the pipes, he’s controlling them with a machine that carries out multiple functions automatically.

“It is much safer, since you eliminate the need to have a Derrickhand 90 feet up in the mast moving heavy pipe around,” said Jake Hamdan, Engineering Manager for Trinidad Design and Manufacturing.

We’re talking increased safety and efficiency – and helping the environment too

When it’s time to move the rigs, moving systems enhance safety and speed up the process.

“Moving systems have been around for a while, but today, our moving systems allow us much more maneuverability,” said Hamdan.

They allow Trinidad to keep the full pipe setback, or a collection of drill pipes and collars, in the racking board. This has eliminated the very time-consuming operation of laying the pipe off the sub, which is essentially at the lowest part of the rig, supporting the derrick, engines and doghouse, and having to rack it all back in once the rig has been moved to a new well.

Another big bonus of the moving system: “Pad drilling rigs with moving systems reduce greenhouse gases significantly, since there is no more need for cranes and trucks to move a rig from one well location to another,” said Hamdan.

Better yet, moving systems can be used everywhere.

“Our systems can be used on all types of rigs and we are constantly optimizing our designs to better fit Trinidad’s wide range of different types of rigs.”

Hamdan, located in Nisku, Alberta, and his team are always looking for opportunities to improve drilling technology.

“My days are spent mostly in mentoring my team members and making sure the Trinidad operations team is getting the support they need from the engineering department when they need it,” he said.

“We are also focusing on new product development and preparing for the next upturn.”

Learn more

For another look at how technology is making Trinidad rigs safer, check out this post about top drives.

Check out other safety blog posts to learn more about what we’re doing to make sure everyone who goes to work with us goes home safe.

And, find out more about how our technology is advancing drilling.

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