Mud Mixing Unit Makes HDD Operators’ Work Easier

Wisconsin’s Elexco believes in investing in top-of-the-line equipment not only for optimal productivity but also for helping employee retention

Mud Mixing Unit Makes HDD Operators’ Work Easier

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Jeff Seidl firmly believes that investing in good equipment helps attract and retain employees as well as boost his bottom line through better productivity and profitability.  

As a good example, the owner of Elexco, a multi-service excavation company based near Green Bay, Wisconsin, cites the company’s M8000 truck-mounted mud-mixing system made by AT-Boretec and distributed by Prime Direct. The entire mixing system is enclosed in a heated and insulated box body and mounted on a 2021 Western Star truck chassis.

“We used to build our own cabin inside a box body,” Seidl says. “We’d install a slide-in mixing unit with gasoline engines and add shelves — make things as best as we can. But this unit is designed specifically for custom drilling applications. It’s all self-contained and very efficiently laid out. It mounts on a truck with minimal outfitting — you basically just drop it down and bolt it on. And it offers a lot of on-board storage that’s easily accessible.”

The unit costs about $380,000, including the truck. But Seidl says it’s a worthwhile investment.

“It offers us a much shorter road to getting what we need and the price isn’t that much more than if we built it ourselves,” he says. “It’s very well-engineered and well-thought-out machine.”

The unit ticks off several important boxes for Seidl, including employee safety. For example, he points to full-size steps that make it safer and more convenient for operators to get in and out of the unit and electric motors powered by a generator located outside the mixing cabin.

“We don’t have to deal with gas engines running in an enclosed area,” Seidl says. “And the way it’s designed electrically and mechanically is great. Guys can’t accidentally stick their fingers where they shouldn’t be. And they don’t have to crawl up into the truck to hook up mixing hoses. Plus we can work year-round and never deal with frozen hoses.”

The variable speed motors are “idiot-proof,” which gives crews more flexibility to make custom mixtures of drilling fluids, improving productivity.“You really can’t screw things up while mixing mud,” Seidl says.

Furthermore, there’s enough room to carry all of the various different mud mixes that employees use, which minimizes back-and-forth trips to the company’s shop. And with the tandem-mixing system, mixing the chemicals takes about 5 minutes instead of 15 or 20, he says.

The unit also features many creature comforts that help retain key talent: a full workshop, a heater, a power washer to clean tools and so forth.

“It’s like taking a workshop and an office with you on every job site,” Seidl says. “Having something that nice to work in makes employees’ lives easier. There’s such high demand for directional-drill operators that the more you can offer to retain them, the better. Guys take a lot of pride in going down the road in a unit like this, which we feel helps build commitment and loyalty to the company.”


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