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.

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A day in the life of a Derrickhand with Trinidad Drilling

Trinidad DrillingOf all the crew members on a rig, the Derrickhand position is probably the most well known because the Derrickhand climbs the rig’s derrick to work on a platform usually 25 metres above the rig floor.

“I’m the guy who has to put the belt on. Anytime there is something (to be done) up high, I put the belt on and go up the derrick,” said Larince Yewchuk, a Derrickhand on Trinidad Rig 2, referring to the safety harness Trinidad’s hands must wear while working at a height over three metres.

Yewchuk, whose rig operates mostly in southern Alberta, talked to us about what it is like to be a Derrickhand. Continue reading