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Geofluid 2006 took place in the northern Italian city of Piacenza in October. European Foundations takes a look at some of the stars of the show.

Fraste commercial manager Elena Fracca takes EF through the latest versions of the drilling rigs displayed on the manufacturer's stand. 'Recently Fraste has boosted its drilling machines range by developing the new MITO division of foundation rigs and the Multidrill XL Max, designed to be fitted with the original Fraste automatic drill pipes loading device, the Manipulator, ' she says.

She explains that the Multidrill series for micropiles, ground consolidation, soil investigations and small size water wells now includes four models: Multidrill PL, Multidrill ML, Multidrill XL and Multidrill XL Max.

The new Multidrill XL Max is the evolution of the Multidrill XL, of which it has same technical features - its diesel engine can achieve a maximum 1,000Kgm torque and a 5t pulling capacity. It allows the fitting of the Manipulator, which was previously seen only on larger units.

Fracca says both the Multidrill XL and the Multidrill XL Max allow drilling with direct or reverse mud circulation and switching from one system to the other, which she claims is quick and easy. Down the hole hammer drilling with a separate air compressor is also possible.

'The geothermal drilling version of the Multidrill XL with the dual rotary head got a big approval from drilling companies, most of which are involved in geothermal drilling, ' says Fracca.

Among drilling accessories, Fraste has introduced two new items. The first is the new casing pipes rotary table suitable for different diameter casings that can be attached to any drilling rig of adequate dimensions.

The second is the new drilling mud cleaning system. This is fully automatic, allowing reuse of the drilling fluid and reducing environmental impact with the digging of the 'mud pit'. For geothermal drilling it offers the possibility to use the sand obtained from the mud cleaning. The mud cleaning system can be used both with direct and reverse fluid circulation drilling.

The exhibition gave Fraste the chance to showcase its new MITO series for foundations, piling, anchoring, soil consolidations as well as mining exploration and diamond coring.

The range includes three models.

The 3.5t Mito 20 incorporates a Yanmar 3TNE88 diesel engine with a 2t pulling capacity and a rotary head maximum torque of 450Kgm.

Among the available accessories are a water/foam injection pump and down the hole hammer lubricator.

The 5.6t Mito 40 with its BF4L 2011 engine has a 4t pulling capacity and achieves a 520kgm rotary head maximum torque. It can be equipped with different pumps for injection and other accessories include a line oiler.

The third in the range is the big brother Mito 60 which has a 6.5t pulling capacity.

'We had foundations, goethermal, water wells, soil investigations, seismic and piling units that can be assembled with a wide range of components as well as a range of drilling equipment and accessories, ' says Fracca. 'We feel this fair was a creative and growth moment for us.'

Four decades and still going strong

With its roots in over four decades of drilling rigs for water wells and soil investigations, the manufacturer has now extended into foundations and geothermal power. Fraste was established in 1964.

Controls used the show to raise awareness for its Shearmatic WF 25510 automatic digital direct/ residual shear machine, which features a programmable pneumatic vertical loading system.

The company says this new model is microprocessor based and designed as a standalone machine.

It is driven by a high resolution stepper motor with epicyclical reduction gear with a reduced backlash.

It incorporates a pneumatic closed loop system for automatic application of axial pressure by a high performance pressure regulator. This eliminates the need for heavy manual loading.

This system can also be upgraded to carry out different types of automatic shear tests, as it is possible to control the different parameters measured during the test.

For example, the constant volume shear test, where the height of the specimen is maintained constant along the failure stage.

The Italian sector

Controls sales promotion manager Medeo Olivares considers Italy's domestic market. 'The Italian market for the testing and laboratory sector is generally good with increasing requests for high technology equipment, ' he says. 'However, the geotechnical test sector is not so good due to the slowing down and financial blocking of important civil projects.

'There are also some changes to current legislation as well as new additions for the test sector concerning grants for geotechnical laboratories, ' adds Olivares. 'This situation keeps the market in a stand-by position, creating uncertainty for future developments within the sector.'

IMT International export department's Barbara Dimartino says: 'The drilling field is currently booming and going through a period of growth like never before. It is important to be present in the international market with innovative, technologically advanced products that are affordable for most contractors. This has pushed IMT International to choose a new series of drilling rigs mounted on Daewootype bases and these have joined the traditional caterpillar mounted series of IMT drill rigs.' At Geofluid 2006 IMT presented its newest model, the IMT AF200.

With the exception of the different colour from the CAT bases traditionally used by IMT, the performance and quality still remain the same, says Dimartino.

Studio Prof. Marchetti took something new to Geofluid with its recently launched combined tool for geotechnical site investigation, the seismic dilatometer (SDMT).

SDMT is the combination of the standard Dilatometer (DMT) and a seismic module that measures accurately, quickly and economically the shear wave velocity Vs.

This means that during a site investigation using SDMT, it offers both normal DMT results (soil type, undrained shear strength Su, constrained modulus M etc) and Vs.

Increasingly, Vs is requested and it can be converted, by theory of elasticity, to Go, the maximum shear modulus, a basic parameter for any seismic analysis.

The simultaneous availability of the 'small strain modulus Go' and of the 'operative strain modulus M' may be helpful for identifying the G-Gamma curves.

The availability of the Kd parameter from DMT and of Vs permits two independent estimates of the liquefaction potential.

OCMA Drilltech sales manager Michele Adesso outlines what the company stands for and what it was displaying at Geofluid. 'The company was founded in 1976 to focus on producing high quality equipment to answer specific requirements in the drilling field, ' he says. 'Today it offers down the hole hammers to fit the needs of every business.'

Adesso says the company is introducing a new generation of stabilised down the hole hammers and claims advantages of superior performance in hard, medium or soft rock conditions. He also claims they guarantee perfect holes due to an integrated stabiliser with the cylinder. The stabiliser cover has 252 tungsten carbide bits to give extended service life in abrasive conditions and it is also suitable for water well drilling.

IPC took its multidirectional Drill 1200 rig to the show. The company says this machine is designed for soil consolidation, micropiling, core drilling, tie rods, water wells and jet grouting. It is equipped with the IPC brain system for measuring and recording drilling parameters.

These include drill speed, feed pressure, drilling fluid pressure (air/water/grout), torque, rotation speed, borehole depth, X-Y axis inclination and machine running parameter alerts.

A modem link allows remote visualisation of drilling parameters live as well as monitoring of coefficients, alerts (including maintenance) and files mapped in its memory.

IPC's Bernadette Hella says: 'All our drill rigs, small to large, can be equipped with this system.'

The DAT Instruments stand showcased dataloggers for drilling, jet grouting, deep mixing and CFA work. Data can be exported to Microsoft Excel and some models also allow Jet S 104 software to organise and manipulate data into charts and tables.

Tes Car export manager Antonello Verdolini offers his thoughts on where the rig manufacturing industry should be headed. He says: 'In the last few years I have noticed that the requests are for increasingly sophisticated rigs, able to work in the smallest places with the maximum possible depth.'

He explains that versatility is a key requirement. 'This includes rigs that are able to use more than one application, such as bored and CFA piling, as well as rotary and hammer.

'Surely the market will be won by those investing in new projects for rigs that allow customers to use their rigs for satisfying different enquiries without having to continuously update their equipment.

Tes Car has been planning drilling machines with these aims like rigs that are able to work in the lowest headroom position such as under a balcony, inside a garage, or under electric tension lines.

'At Geofluid I met many contractors, but also dealers, looking for special drilling equipment that complies with increasingly strict new construction laws. One of the most wanted rigs at the show was our CF2.5A, which is mounted on the new Bobcat 337.

At its maximum 5.5m height, it can drill to 15m depth at 800mm diameter. But by changing the kelly bar for a shorter one, it can reach 10m depth working at a maximum 3m height. And this rig weighs only 7.9t.

'The other central character of our show was the CF3 CFA, mounted on a Hitachi Zaxis 70, a rig of 3.200Kgm. Weighing 11t, it is able to drill up to 10m in CFA position up to a 500mm maximum diameter.'

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