Non Productive Time or NPT is the dirty word for drillers. Well… one of their many dirty words. But this is the one you want to avoid. NPT is not just downtime but also Maintenance, Mobilisation, Training and basically any time where your drill rig is not… drilling. While this article is focused on the Drill Rig, it applies just as well to the auxiliary and support vehicles used during drilling operations.

There are some major changes coming to Plant and Machinery legislation in Australia. What won’t change, especially for Drill Rigs, is the major advantages gained by a regular inspection regime.

Drill Rig Inspections

Drill Rig Inspection

RC drill rig outside Newman, WA at BHP “Area C”. [Originally published on]

One area of maintenance which can very easily reduce downtime is Inspection. Yes, Inspection should be a part of your Drill Rigs Maintenance schedule. Regular Inspections allow the maintainer to build a picture of what, when and how different components are likely to fail. The Department of Mines and Petroleum’s (DMP) Code of Practice Safeguarding of Machinery and Plant Section 6.6 states that;

“a regular inspection regime should be in place to identify any problems with machinery or plant and safeguards”

Drill Rigs themselves have a lot of ancillary equipment that must also be inspected. Most drill rigs will have an air compressor with a pressure vessel on the vehicle and some even have a small crane. These items fall into the category of Classified Plant and must be inspected to meet the Mines Safety and Inspection Act (MSIA) and Regulations (MSIR).

So it makes good sense to get your whole machine inspected while you carry out the statutory inspections on the air receivers and lifting devices.

This leads into Programmed Maintenance, fixing things before they fail unexpectedly and cause massive downtime. Reactive maintenance is a thing of the past. While accidents will always happen, planning for the things we can, significantly reduces your Drill Rig’s downtime.

Drill Rig Maintenance

One of the most costly and regrettably unavoidable NPT’s is maintenance. Today’s Drill Rigs are large, complex machines, sometimes requiring several different specialists to service different components. While new PLC controlled systems make the operator’s life easier, maintaining these systems can require some specific technical experience. This is especially so if the Drill Rig uses a proprietary PLC system.

The most frustrating downtime is one caused by you. With the complicated repairs these days, missing something as simple as an o-ring can have you back repairing the Drill Rig in no time. It’s for this reason that Maintenance procedures are made available. If you repair the Drill Rig the same way every time then these small errors can be avoided in the future.

Drill Rig Training

Drill Rig Simulator

Blast Hole Drill Rig Simulator in use [Originally published on]

Training is another unavoidable necessity. The efficiency of your drill rig relies heavily on the operator’s experience in both general drilling knowledge and on that particular Drill Rig. Everybody has different experience. But when it comes to maintaining or operating a complicated piece of equipment efficiently, standard procedures are key. If everybody operates and maintains the Drill Rig the same way every time there should be far less mistakes and hence, less downtime.

An inexperienced or new operator has to deal with several crucial parameters to keep the drilling operation safe. Errors made in changing rods, a badly positioned mast or rig and drilling at the correct angle and pressure can all lead to accidents and downtime. Having the inexperienced operator buddied up with a more experienced one is good for training but reduces the amount of time the experienced operator has to concentrate on his job, thereby reducing efficiency.

To overcome this, in many cases, a Drill Rig simulator is used. A simulator ensures that an inexperienced operator is trained to a competent level without risking safety, the equipment and lost time.


This may seem like a simple one but having the correct operator and maintenance manual on hand when required saves hours and sometimes days. Depending on who supplied the Drill Rig and how diligent they were with supplying all the correct documentation you could be up for some serious hunting and digging around for documents.

Designers are obligated to provide information about plant so that the manufacturer can pass this information onto the importer, supplier and the finally the end user.

This information includes:Operators Manual

  • The purpose for which plant was designed (the intended use)
  • The results of calculations, analysis, testing or examination necessary to use, inspect, commission and maintain plant safely
  • Details about plant design registration, if applicable, and
  • Any conditions necessary for the plant to be used safely.

Information should be easily understood by the person receiving it, i.e. written in plain English. This information may be in written form or presented visually in drawings, signs, symbols, diagrams or videos. Where the information is provided visually it should meet the relevant standard, i.e. drawing standards.

For example, if plant is required to be located a specific distance from other plant written instructions must be provided for the manufacturer, supplier, installer, owner and end user.

So next time you look at the downtime of your drill rig and supporting vehicle fleet, think of the time you could have saved with some timely, regular inspection regimes.

Rapallo has a dedicated cloud based inspection program tailored to keeping inspection, maintenance and other equipment documentation in the same place whilst conforming to all legislative requirements. Click here for more information.

If you haven’t had your Plant and Machinery Inspected in a while or need some advice, call Rapallo’s Stephen Niederberger in our Perth office on (08) 6279 0900 or Haitao Han in our Kalgoorlie office (08) 9021 8399 for a chat.

We use our Inspection program to effectively track the Inspection and maintenance of our client’s plant and machinery. Our clients are using this program to provide critical information to insurance companies, WorkCover, WorkSafe and the Department of Mines and Petroleum. If queried by the DMP or WorkSafe or to provide information for risk assessment our program provides this information much easier than a spreadsheet or SAP.

Companies that benefit from regular inspection include:

  • Exploration and Drilling Companies
  • Plant and Machinery Hire Companies
  • Mining Contractors
  • Compressor Hire Companies
  • Mining Companies
  • Port Authorities
  • Hospitals
  • Haulage and Trucking Companies
  • Construction Companies
  • Shires and Councils
  • Crane Hire
  • EWP Hire
  • Service stations
  • Breweries
  • Power Stations
  • Steam Engines
  • LNG Plant
  • Oil and Gas platforms
  • Fuel Storage and Distribution

Rapallo inspects:

  • Drill Rigs
  • Pressure Vessels
  • Tanks
  • Boilers
  • Cranes
  • Lifting Equipment
  • Elevated Work Platforms
  • Cranes
  • Trailer Drawbars
  • Compressors
  • Fuel Farms
  • Classified Plant
  • Plant and Machinery
  • Trucks
  • Rail Wagons
  • Ball Studs

Rapallo perform:

Click here for more information on Rapallo’s Inspection capabilities or call Rapallo’s Stephen Niederberger in our Perth office on (08) 6279 0900 or Thomas Mvula in our Kalgoorlie office (08) 9021 8399 for a chat.

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