Meet the fastest drill in town

Blistering speed
More than 30 years ago, sonic drilling technology first entered the marketplace to a somewhat bemused and skeptical reception. “Not that long ago, we would be accused of exaggerating at tradeshows when we told people how fast a sonic drill could bore,” says award-winner Ray Roussy, the patent holder and developer of modern-day sonic drilling technology. “People thought it was a gimmick…even engineers had a hard time understanding how it worked until they saw one in action.” In those early days, drillers were skeptical but, when they heard that a sonic rig was in town, they often took time out to stop by and see if the hype was true. It was and the rest, as they say, is history.
Roussy’s sonic drill head combines rotation with high-frequency vibration to advance the drill pipe. Sonic vibrations transmitted through the pipe to the drill bit cause material in its path to fluidise, allowing a sonic drill to achieve penetration rates three to five times greater than conventional drilling systems. In turn, the faster drilling rate reduces on-site time, thus reducing per-metre project costs. The sonic can use either air or water as a lubricant rather than mud and the rig uses a smaller engine which cuts fuel costs and emissions – making its environmental footprint absolutely minimal.
Worldwide use
Today, Roussy’s patented sonic drilling technology is used around the world and in almost every application imaginable but, of all its uses, it has earned a stellar reputation as a rescue rig – capable of drilling through impossible soil conditions that would jam up rotary rigs, delay projects or make others unfeasible. With four awards and dozens of patents, Roussy recently added a few new ones covering his technology’s unique ability to install geothermal loops in one operation and its latest innovation – sonic pile-anchors. And, although sonic drilling technology is now widely-known, a lesser known fact is that, despite different brand names, almost all of the sonic drills in existence carry the patented Roussy sonic drill head.
Roussy says he’s “proud to see how many different countries now use a sonic rig.” Indeed, the long list of projects is diverse and exciting – from diamond exploration in Africa to pavement melting systems in Japan. “The users actually deserve a lot of credit…they’ve taken my technology and run with it,” he adds. As a Canadian engineer, Roussy is also delighted to see the projects that use his technology much closer to home via his contracting company, Sonic Drilling Ltd.
In 1980, Sonic Drilling Ltd. was set up to help prove out his new sonic drilling technology through actual field use but, today, it does much more than that with its fleet of sonic rigs. “We’ve taken these rigs on the road as far north as the arctic, across Canada and into the US, depending on client requests. We’ve even barged rigs into more remote locations,” says Roussy.