Total Drilling Services

The Total Package

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– By Robert Hoshowsky

In the demanding field of drill and blast work, high performance is crucial. Whether the project involves such diverse areas as mining, road work, tunneling, dams, and structural demolition, Total Drilling Services Pty Ltd has the experience, tools, and professionalism to get the job done right.

“We offer a quality service and are committed to conducting our operations in a highly professional manner,” says Robert Grayson, General Manager – Drill and Blast. “Our owners manage our business, are in contact with our employees and our clients on a day to day basis, and we are committed to continuously improving the quality of our products and services and growing our business in a sustainable manner.”

Founded by Phil Blake and Jon Kitchen in 2000, Total Drilling Services Pty Ltd remains a privately-owned company that prides itself on being approachable to all their clients in mining and civil construction operations. “We are flexible and amenable to methods of operations or specialised arrangements that mutually reward us and our clients,” says Mr Grayson. Prior to starting Total Drilling Services, both Messrs Blake and Kitchen worked for many years in the drill-blast industry and with the key members of their management team, they bring extensive combined international experience in the drilling and specialist blasting fields on mining (open cut, quarry and underground) and civil operations (road, rail, tunneling, dams, pipelines, structural demolition and urban environments).

Qualified Staff

Based in Western Australia, Total Drilling Services Pty Ltd works alongside its customers on all aspects of drill and blast work – from initial blast design to initiation sequencing – to produce the best results each and every time. Every project is professionally planned, with the utmost reliability, respect for the environment, and strict adherence to health and safety.

At Total Drilling Services, there is a strong commitment to ongoing training and development of all personnel. “Most drill operators employed by TDS already have experience in the operation of the equipment we require them to operate,” says Jon Kitchen. “We have an in-house competency assessment program which all employees are required to complete, and there has been progress towards a nationally accredited operator competency certificate for blast hole drilling which we will be incorporating into our training plans.”

In addition to experienced drill operators, Total Drilling Services has competency frameworks in place for exploration drilling operations which will be incorporated into their training. Shotfirers and explosive operators are bound by training and competency assessments, required to complete the TDS competency assessment program, and take regular refresher training courses.

At present, TDS has about 50 staff, which fluctuates up to 85 depending on demand. While much of the company’s work to date has been conducted in Western Australia, the company continues to tender on work in other states, and has been in discussions with potential clients in Africa and Indonesia. Total Drilling Services Pty Ltd has enjoyed considerable success, and plans to see an expansion on the order of 25 per cent or greater this year, along with an increase in machinery, trucks, and other equipment.

“About every quarter, we go through and we select resource companies and people we believe can be potential clients, and we’ll send out a letter of the services we offer,” says Mr Grayson. Much of Total Drilling Services’s business comes from satisfied repeat clients, and others primarily in mining, resources, or earthmoving contractors seeking the services of drill and blast professionals.

Maintaining Quality Control

Instead of taking on an excessive number of jobs, TDS will typically limit the number of projects it is working on at any one time to maintain its high quality and safety standards in areas including blasthole drilling, RC exploration and grade control drilling, aircore drilling, professional blasting services, and explosives supply.

Although the company recently separated its Exploration Drilling and Drill and Blast Operations, it continues to operate as one team to bring its clients quality, professional services conducted with the utmost regard to safety and the environment. The firm’s blasting team is comprised of skilled individuals able to provide customised, total blast crew and explosive supply solutions to meet the needs of customers. Along with a fleet of explosives manufacturing vehicles and professional personnel, TDS is able to provide blasting for quarries and surface mining operations, pre-split and final wall blasting, controlled blasting in urban environments, explosive demolition of concrete and steel structures, computer-assisted drill and blast design services, detailed blast monitoring and reporting services, and a great deal more.

On the drilling side, TDS takes pride in providing professional, effective, safe and flexible services to the mining and civil construction industries in Australia and internationally. “We perform top hammer percussive drilling to depths of 24 metres in diameters ranging from 76mm – 152mm, Down the Hole hammer blasthole drilling at hole diameters of 140-208mm, reverse circulation drilling to depths of 120 metres (plans to purchase a machine later this year with depth capability exceeding 200 metres), and aircore drilling to depths of 54 metres at present,” says Mr Grayson. “All forms of blasting for open cut mining, quarrying and civil construction projects are undertaken.”

Using its fleet of hydraulic crawler drills and professional personnel, TDS is able to provide its clients with a wide range of services, including production drilling for quarries and surface mining operations, probe drilling, geotechnical drilling, pre-split drilling and contour drilling, computer-assisted drill and blast design services, drill and blast operation auditing services, and more. With a blast hole drill fleet including Sandvik and Atlas Copco Machines TDS is capable of drilling diameters in the range of 45mm – 208mm at depths of up to 54 metres.

For Australia’s drill and blast industry, one of the biggest hurdles is not centred on difficult terrain or tough working conditions, but finding the right people and machinery for the job. “The biggest challenge today is finding high quality skilled employees,” says Mr Grayson. “Keeping abreast of the remuneration and incentives required to attract and retain these employees as well as adequately recovering these expenses from your clients is paramount to success.” Finding available machinery can also be challenging, especially when considering the ridiculously lengthy Australian quarantine delays when importing equipment from other countries. Over the years, Mr Grayson worked in a number of building and resource sectors and eventually obtained his Shotfirers ticket, Quarry Managers Ticket, and gained plenty of hands-on experience operating heavy mine site machinery. Later, he worked as a Project Manager, Technical Services Manager, Drill & Blast Consultant, Drill and Blast Superintendent, and Quarry Superintendent in a number of countries before returning to Australia to join TDS in 2006 and becoming a Director in 2010.

The company, says Mr Grayson, prides itself on providing quality work done on time, at a realistic price. Today, TDS remains a proud, 100 per cent Australian-owned operation. With a significant fleet of equipment and skilled personnel – including 14 blast hole drills, three RC drills plus support equipment, machinery and vehicles – Total Drilling Services Pty Ltd also plans to launch a new website this year, with features that allow employees to access the company’s safety management system documentation, and improve document control.

“We are prepared to work anywhere and we are flexible,” says Mr Grayson. “Total Drilling Services Pty Ltd is not a low cost budget operator, but a high-quality value for money, drilling and blasting contractor and an alternative to the larger organisations.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

August 19, 2018, 7:49 AM AEST