Building on experience
Anna Hayes speaks to Daniel Ibbotson of Halco Rock Tools about its recent acquisition by Caterpillar and plans for development
Q What effect has the acquisition
by Caterpillar had on Halco
The Halco brand is synonymous with
DTH drilling equipment around the world,
and its product portfolio and customer
on: drill and blast in mining and quarries,
exploration, oil and gas, waterwell and
geothermal and finally civil engineering
base stretch much further than the and construction.
Halco has recent experience of changes mining sector, which is Caterpillar Global The model designations for certain
in ownership and these events are often Mining’s focus. Halco hammers have been changed
challenging for our employees, customers to reflect the segment they are used in.
and suppliers. Each new parent organisation
inevitably brings its own processes,
procedures and different ways of working.
Q Are there any potential conflicts
between Caterpillar dealers
and Halco’s traditional dealer/
For example, in drill and blast, the
hammers will be designated ‘Super
Dominator’. In waterwell and geothermal,
“Halco Rock With so many brands and product lines distribution network? they will be ‘GW’. Exploration hammers
transitioning from Bucyrus to Caterpillar, are ‘RC’ (reverse circulation), while civil
Tools will there were some concerns that Halco The Caterpillar dealer network provides engineering and construction hammers
maintain its may suffer during the integration, but Halco with unrivalled access to the are known as ‘Mach’. Oil and gas hammers
the Caterpillar integration team have world’s premier mining operations and are called ‘Dominator’.
brand identity managed the process excellently. organisations. Its on-site (mine-side)
Caterpillar clearly recognised the
importance of quickly building the
personal relationships between the two
presence provides Halco with the largest
team of mining experts to ensure the
best selection of drilling tools, matched
Q What is Halco’s vision for the
organisations and the ‘One team, to the geological mine site conditions, Halco is conscious of its increased
wherever there is mining’ campaign has resulting in the lowest drilling costs for visibility in the mining industry since
been very successful in achieving this. the customer. becoming part of the Caterpillar family.
That said, Halco’s products will continue Since the acquisition, Halco’s strategic
Q Will Halco lose its brand name
and identity under Caterpillar?
to be accessible to all customers in all
To facilitate this, one tool we are using
business plans have therefore been
aligned with Caterpillar Global Mining
objectives for long-term, sustainable
No, Caterpillar recognises the strength is product segmentation. In order to align business growth.
of the Halco brand, so will continue to specific products to the sectors where Those strategic plans are now
trade as Halco Rock Tools, and maintain they are used, Halco is in the process of becoming a reality and Halco is rapidly
its brand identity and trade names. segmenting its product catalogue to focus expanding its sales, technical and
GeoDrilling International April 2012 • www.geodrillinginternational.com
foundations for long-term growth in the
emerging mining, infrastructure and
As pioneers of DTH drilling systems,
Halco has unparalleled experience in
assisting customers with their drilling
applications. Providing our customers
with the best quality product and the best
support in the industry, our dedicated
team of experts work with pride and
passion in everything they do.
We are building on our reputation for
technical support and training, rapidly
The new US facility operational capacity to meet forecasted expanding our global field-based sales We are committed to helping our
global demand. support and technical/application customers realise their full potential.
There are three main threads to the engineers to enhance our technical and Halco’s policy is one of working together
plan: growing our geographical sales service offering. We are also providing with our customers to provide innovative
and technical presence; expanding our drilling workshops/training sessions, technology to leading optimum drilling
manufacturing footprint; and investment which can help reduce drilling costs to the solutions.
in product development. lowest cost per ft/m.
Q Are there any specific sales
initiatives you can share with us?
We are also providing support through
our technical literature. Our widely
recognised ‘A-Z of Drilling’ is being updated
Q How will Halco’s manufacturing
operations respond to the
expected increase in demand for
and will be made available in electronic hammers and drill bits?
Halco has traditionally been strong in the formats on our website. A downloadable
developed DTH markets of Europe, North PDF version and a new mobile phone app A key element of our strategic plan is not
America and Australia. Our short-term is being developed. All Halco publications only to increase our production capacity,
plans include significant expansion into are designed to support and develop the but also to expand our manufacturing
the high-growth markets of South America, knowledge of DTH drilling or product footprint. We aim to ‘manufacture in the
Africa and Asia, and we’ve started to lay the maintenance to improve efficiency. continent of sale’. This philosophy will
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bring greater product availability, choice
to our customers and result in reduced
Q Are you confident that you’ll be
able to maintain your reputation
for high quality and safety
The first component of this plan is standards during these projects?
under way in the US. We are relocating
our manufacturing facility in Denison, Yes, the validation process for the
Texas, to a customised 40,000ft2 (3,716m2) improvement projects is designed
facility a few miles away in Sherman. to ensure enhanced quality. Halco’s
This will quadruple our current floor dedication to quality begins with
space, allowing Halco to significantly listening to our customers and
increase drill-bit production capacity understanding their specific
and, for the first time, start to manufacture requirements. Our aim is to exceed our
its range of DTH hammers and spares customers’ expectations in the areas
outside of the UK. This new facility will that add value to their business.
become the focal point for all our Halco as a leader in the design,
customers throughout North and South manufacture, servicing and repair of Halco’s stated intention is to continuously Significant investment
America. DTH percussive rock drilling products. develop its industry expertise by way in new product
In Australia, the Halco sales and It maintains its standards through a of market-leading integration with its development and
distribution facility in Perth, Western comprehensive and bespoke quality customers, delivering world-class product validation
Australia, will shortly be moving to new management system that meets performance, with the lowest cost of programmes is
premises in Landsdale, WA. This dedicated ISO 9001:2008 requirements. ownership for our customers, whilst planned
Halco facility will offer greater accessibility Halco’s standard of safety in everything developing marketplace leading
to both new and existing customers it does has been enhanced by the product safety.
throughout Australia and the wider Asia Caterpillar Zero Harm campaign ‘Safely We will support our customers
Pacific region, improving levels of Home, Everyone, Everyday’. throughout the new product introduction
customer service. process, delivering against our commitments.
In the UK, Halco has identified the
need for a new world-class premises
within the present locality. This bespoke
Q What are Halco Rock Tools
initiatives and how are you
Significant investment in new product
development and product validation
programmes is planned, which will take
60,000ft2 (5,574m2) facility would provide looking at reducing its direction by listening to, working
Halco with an excellent foundation to manufacturing waste? closely with and delivering against our
expand its business throughout Europe, customers’ product requirements.
Africa and Russia, whilst delivering Halco continues to implement the latest Additionally, there will be an “Halco is
improved customer service to achieve world-class, lean manufacturing increased focus on engaging investing in
greater business effectiveness, improved methodologies across all of its facilities, with academic and industrial
production efficiencies and notable with the ultimate target to be best in class institutions’ leading material the latest proven
improvements in safety. within three to five years. science research, product and world-class
Since 2010, the organisation structure process engineering design
Q Will Halco also be investing in its
within the Halco’s operations team has
been geared towards adopting the latest
lean manufacturing methodologies and
capabilities to support our drive
to lead the market in new product
development, validation and
In 2011, Halco began a substantial philosophies. introduction.
investment programme in its manufacturing Continuous improvement projects Through a renewed focus on IP and
technology, with the aim of fully such as 5s, Kaizen events, Kanban systems differentiators, we will strengthen our
equipping these new production facilities and Value Stream Mapping have all global presence and our industries’
with state-of-the-art machine tools. commenced. confidence, continually developing our
This staged investment plan aims to The takeover by Caterpillar has given greatest assets – our staff.
replace the current single operation, Halco access to knowledge and resources Halco is also planning to launch an
conventional CNC equipment with which are second to none in the industry. engineering graduate, ‘grow your own’ Halco is investing in
multi-axis, multi-tasking machine The Caterpillar Production System development programme in support of manufacturing
tools whilst adopting the valuable combined with top management a renewed pipeline of research and technology
principles of the Caterpillar production commitment will help us realise development investment.
systems. our goals.
Halco is investing in the latest proven
world-class machine-tool technology.
We’re working with the world’s leading
providers of machine tools to ensure we
Q What are Halco’s primary product
development objectives for
have the most competitive processes
available in today’s market. In terms of innovation, it’s fair to say
These latest technology machines will that Halco has suffered from a lack of
substantially enhance Halco’s component investment and focus in recent years. Our
safety, delivery, quality and performance primary business objective is to reinstate
throughput times, which, in turn, will Halco’s reputation for products, service
improve product availability and choice to and business support as a world leader in
its customers on reduced lead times. the DTH marketplace.
GeoDrilling International April 2012 • www.geodrillinginternational.com