Terex auger drill heads to Antarctica

Terex auger drillA Terex Utilities Model 330 auger drill is heading to Antarctica to assist the National Science Foundation (NSF) obtain sea ice samples.

In December, Terex Utilities shipped the drill to Leidos, a contractor working for the foundation in Antarctica. Designed to meet the specific needs of the NSF-managed U.S. Antarctic Program, the 330 auger drill features a unique mounting configuration and numerous insulation and heating modifications to operate in the extreme environment.

The new drill replaces a Model 330 that has been in service by the contractor since 1990.

The 330, with blade-style auger tooling featuring carbide tips, will be used to drill 120 cm diameter holes up to six metres deep through the sea ice. The equipment is used by Leidos to support the National Science Foundation’s mission to monitor effects on sea ice from global warming and pollution. Once the hole is drilled, scientists use robotic probes to explore beneath the ice, taking thickness measurements and gathering samples of ice and water.

RELATED: AMPIS hosts its first Canadian class

“It’s not every week we get to work on a unit that will be used for scientific research. Our team took pride in building the 330 that won’t miss a beat on the job, knowing that our work is helping scientists explore a continent that is so far from our home in South Dakota,” said Chad Rudebusch, branch manager at the Terex Watertown Service Center.

To meet the unique requirements for the Antarctic meant designing the 330 auger drill to perform in temperatures as low as -43 C and to travel over uneven, icy terrain. This meant utilizing engine and hydraulic heaters, special seals, hoses and oil, as well as employing a pre-start engine system that allows the working components to warm up before being fired up.

In normal utility applications, the drill is often truck or crawler track carrier mounted. For this application, it was necessary to design the unit to mount on a crawler trailer that is towed behind a snowcat-style vehicle. A carefully balanced mounting configuration is required to allow transporting the equipment over the rugged Antarctic terrain.

“The Model 330 will be working in some of the harshest conditions possible. We take pride in delivering the best possible solutions for our customers” said Gary Rice, Terex South regional sales manager.

As an example of this, the Terex Utilities team recommended a proven design of auger tooling that delivers better performance in drilling ice.

“The process of cutting through ice is more like shaving the ice. It’s different than drilling through rock. We spec’d a blade style auger that stands up to the abrasion caused by drilling through ice and will maximize product life and performance,” Rice said.

The 330 will ship from Watertown, South Dakota, to California, then to New Zealand. After that, it will be transported to Antarctica. It’s expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2018, just in time for summer in Antarctica.