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By Mark S. Kuhar

Rocking the Volcanoes. A Contractor Drills Rock in Hawaii with a New Generation of High-Tech Rigs.

Over many eons, volcanoes have erupted from the floor of the Pacific Ocean and formed the Hawaiian Islands, which slowly rise from the bottom. Today, those mountains of volcanic rock are a boon for Blasting Technology Inc., a drilling and blasting company that is hard at work on each of the major islands in the archipelago, operating a fleet of seven Sandvik Construction surface top hammer drill rigs tapping into these exotic island’s solidified lava.

Blasting Technology began operations in 1987, becoming a subsidiary of Goodfellow Bros. Inc., which itself dates from 1921, with the resulting merging of peer companies being of mutual benefit.

The business has developed so that it has progressed from using small machines to employing cab drill units, with Blasting Technology drills having been found working on “The Big Island” (Hawaii), Maui, Oahu and Kauai as well as in rocky soils of a Pacific neighbor, Guam, and in the U.S. mainland coastal states of Oregon and Alaska.

The company, which began working on the islands with Tamrock drills (Tamrock being a company acquired by Sandvik in 1997) and Sandvik bits, has now switched exclusively to Sandvik products, with the backbone of the company’s equipment fleet being the versatile Sandvik DX800 drill, with four such units being operated on construction sites and in quarries. This drill rig has a record of reliably and productively puncturing the island rock, leaving behind smooth and vertical holes for the blasters.

New Generation
Now however, Blasting Technology is quarrying rock with a new generation of drill rigs, the Sandvik DP1500i, with the company manager’s being keen to extol its attributes.

“Accountants must love this machine,” said Blasting Technology Foreman Chris Haynes. “I can’t imagine how anyone would not want to use these machines, just for the fuel savings.” With the DP1500i using about 5-gal.-per-hour less than the predecessor DP1500 model, Haynes observes that, “The extra money (for the new model) is all savings in fuel.”

General Manager Ted Fritzen makes the same point, as the 5-gal.-per-hour savings means that if the DP1500i ran for 40 hours a week, for a year, the savings in fuel costs would be nearly $50,000, stating categorically, “That’s remarkable.” The savings are not theoretical either, as Fritzen reached that conclusion after fueling and monitoring DP1500 and DP1500i drills that were working side by side.

General Manager Ted Fritzen (left) and Blasting Technology Foreman Chris Haynes.
General Manager Ted Fritzen (left) and Blasting Technology Foreman Chris Haynes.

Less Pollution
Lower fuel usage has the corollary effect of creating less polluted air; in fact, Sandvik engineers say the DP1500i’s fuel efficiency results in 35 tons less carbon dioxide at 2,500 engine hours than is produced by its predecessor.

The drill rig also boasts a patented dust-binding system that contains the worst of the airborne refuse thrown up by a penetrating drill bit, which means, all in all, that the machine is friendly to the environment, which is an important consideration anywhere, but a necessity on projects in Hawaii.

The DP1500i itself is a self-propelled top hammer rock drill rig 24-ton tracked machine standing 10.5 ft. high at the cab, with a lower center of gravity than earlier models, meaning that this optimized center of gravity provides a rig greater stability while operating.

The rig carries a pivoting, telescopic boom, with the working end being able to drill holes 3.5-6 in. in diameter, as well as being fitted with a high-frequency drifter which boosts the rate of penetration.

The DP1500i is powered by an interim Tier 4 Caterpillar engine, with the engine’s fuel efficiency stemming from smart electronic control of engine speed, and air compressor and oil cooler fan operations.

The heritage of the Sandvik DPi series can be traced to the respected Tamrock Pantera family of drills, but the new generation rig certainly is not a hand-me-down.

Rather, it is a comprehensive package of advanced features, developed over the last decade by engineers who continually stretched and refined the parameters for efficient top hammer drilling of 3 ½ to 6-in. holes.

What they ultimately created was a machine with exemplary performance, day in and day out, paired with such practical improvements as a larger fuel tank holding an incredible 180 gal. so that refueling need not occur every shift.

chartSandvik DP1500i

Sandvik DP1500i is an intelligent, hydraulic, self-propelled, crawler-based surface top hammer drilling rig.

Fully equipped, the new generation rig produces information, among others, on the condition of the drill and the work performed. Clever drilling parameter set up, an advanced ROPS/FOPS certified safety cabin, excellent visibility and step-by-step trouble shooting instructions make drilling a pleasure.

The DPi series technical solutions also respect the environment. Compared with similar conventional models, the DPi rigs consume 15 percent less fuel. In standard 2500 yearly engine hours, this means a reduction of 35 tons in CO2 emissions.


  • Intelligent production drill rig.
  • Advanced user interface.
  • Easily adjustable drilling control system.
  • Excellent stability due to optimized center of gravity.
  • Smart component layout and gullwing-type doors for ease of service.
  • Excellent visibility.
  • Remote access ready.
  • Low fuel consumption, low CO2 emissions.