Drilling in Norway with 3D rig solution from Leica Geosystems

Case Study

Author: Arne Forsell

Rays of sunlight hit the wooded hillside from the west. The old road seems to lead upwards in an indefinite number of turns. The shadows are long. The water in the mountain lake is sparkling on the other side. The world’s highest ski jump slope with the steepest point of 200 metres peaks up from the woods, and snow-covered mountain tops can be seen on the horizon. We are in Vikersund, Norway, a few hours drive from Oslo, and the entire scene is glowing in autumn colours.

Fjellsprenger AS is drilling the bedrock for ground preparations to build a fenced construction site, where they together with another company, Norsk Fjellsprenger, can store equipment and explosives. The team carries out the drilling work with 3D machine control solution from Leica Geosystems.


Meeting the drill operator

A firm handshake from a weathered hand, an impressive moustache, and on top a hard hat with a miner headlamp – driller operator Odd Are Frydenlund is presenting himself.

Frydenlund is working with drill rigs for eight years, beginning at the company E. Rolstad AS and now at Fjellsprenger AS. Before that, he worked as an excavator operator.

His machine is a Sandvik Ranger DX800 top hammer drilling rig. It weighs 15 tonnes and stands stable on its track, powered by a strong 225 HP motor from Caterpillar. Frydenlund can drill holes with a diameter of 76 to 127 millimetres with this machine. The drill rig is equipped with a Leica iRD3 machine control solution for drilling applications, which helps Frydenlund to do the job quickly and with absolute accuracy.

Frydenlund is a fan of Liverpool FC, he likes motorsport and in his garage stands one of his treasures: a seductive maroon Chevrolet Corvette from 1981.

Frydenlund changes job sites frequently with his drill rig. Fjellsprenger AS is contracted for many different construction projects, and Frydenlund, as well as many of the company’s other machines, is moved between construction sites.

Just a few weeks earlier, Frydenlund was balancing his rig on the edge of a 30 m tall cliff in a quarry in Maura, Norway. For safety reasons, it was very important to be able to operate the machine remotely from outside of the cabin and additionally anchor the machine into the supporting soils.

Working over the cliff with the remote support on the machine control solution.

Comparing with his previous job site, it is easier here on the plane field in Vikersund.

For some operators, who worked for a long time in the construction industry, inventions like GNSS-assisted machine control might be scary for the first time, but Frydenlund is on the contrary.

“I have experience with Leica Geosystems’ equipment already from my previous job,” says Frydenlund. “It gives me total freedom in my work. If I receive an offset height, I can build my drill pattern in the display. It is so easy! Then, I can do the drilling myself accurately. Every hole is drilled to specification with the right depth and angle. I don’t need a surveyor, everything is fast, and the as-built documentation is easy to export from the system afterwards.”

Frydenlund quickly learnt how to operate the drill rig with the new 3D machine control system.

“I have not experienced difficulties with learning the system, and if I had, I would have preferred to call them challenges instead,” reflecting Frydenlund on his learning experience. “You only need to be a little curious and interested, and then it is just like when you learned to ride a bike – once you have learned it, you don’t forget!”

Frydenlund reflects on the good relationship he has developed to Petter Heyerdahl, product manager for rig solutions at Leica Geosystems and his experience with Leica Geosystems’ personalised support team.

“I am sitting here in my drill rig 40 hours a week – it makes you think and you get new ideas! I have discussed my ideas and wishes with Petter. He listened to me, and I got most of the features that I asked for,” explains Frydenlund.


Meet the blast manager

Magnus Hansen, blast manager at Fjellsprenger

The blast manager at Fjellsprenger AS, Magnus Hansen, lives close to the construction site, where the drilling is taking place. Close enough for him to take one of the fragmented rocks from the blasting and throw it to his house, if only he had enough strength in his arm.

Hansen is the outdoor type. He is interested in hunting and fishing.

Hansen obtained the license for rock blasting – a license that must be renewed every five years. He worked in the industry for 14 years. The tasks that a blast manager is responsible include the overall responsibility for the work on the site and comprise:

  • safety
  • planning
  • environmental concerns
  • considerations for the surrounding areas
  • closing of traffic.

“We have increased productivity and the quality since we have started the cooperation with Leica Geosystem and since the machine control solutions are available,” explains Hansen. “We do not need surveyors on-site to the same degree as before, and that saves us time and costs. Frydenlund can handle everything himself with the drill rig and work totally independently.”

“Once you have tried the solution, you simply can’t go back to the old methods and manual calculations. The drilling today is far more accurate than what we could accomplish before,” refers Hansen on the productivity of machine control solutions.

Back then, there could be a difference of 30 to 40 centimetres in the depth of the holes, and that affects the blast result. With the 3D solution, everything is as plane as a house floor.”

The talking is done now, and it is time for action. The first holes are drilled, controlled and approved. Hansen prepares every hole, handles detonators and wires in such a skilled manner that it looks almost nonchalant, but make no mistake ⁠— the blast manager knows what he is doing.

The shell for cushioning and absorbing lateral impact are placed on top of the area to be blasted, then the siren alarm rings.

The blast sounds dampened and controlled — WHOOOOMP!

And the rays of autumn sunshine continue glittering across the blasted earth.

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