Audie Steel

A short history.

Audie Steel & Engineering has not stopped improving. Many times we came across obstacles that could have stopped us in our tracks. But as a wise man told me once ‘a rolling stone never gathers moss’. Out of that I learned that better things start sticking to you if you stay focused.

Our first real drilling machine for the water industry was the Audie Spider. This was something completely different. A drilling machine capable of drilling 200 meters deep that can be towed by a 4×4 Land Crusier. In the market there was a PAT rig that was selling for around 280 000 ZAR which weighed 1.6 ton. It could go down to depths of 150m – but with great skill on the driller’s part. Audie Steel and Engineering built the Audie Spider. This Spider rig was great especially if we consider that if we has used the same safety factors and specifications of the PAT 301 drill, the Audie Spider would have been able to drill to about 800 meters. However, Audie Steel & Engineering used a 1:4 safety factor on the Audie Spider where PAT used a 1:1.

But our rig costs more and was heavier than the PAT drill by nearly one ton. (Further information – the Spider has been replaced by the Audie A100-2).

Our next innovation was the Audie TT300 – a unique new tower design that promised long lasting hassle free drilling. The advantages of a hydraulically driven progressive cavity pump on board the rig was the main selling feature. The disadvantage was the double axle setup – it made the rig difficult to maneuver in small spaces.

Then we designed and manufactured the in-betweener – the Audie LC150. Lighter than the Audie TT300 at 5 Ton and the 2.4 Ton Audie Spider, the Audie LC150 came in at 3.6 ton. But we had to give up pull back power as we used a 1:2 configuration here.

The main problems with trailer rigs are as follows; they are difficult to move over sandy and clay terrain and they usually don’t carry enough drill rods, if at all. If you want to drill a big diameter borehole you need to apply a push force that is greater than the weight of the drilling rig, so they like to dance. The surprising thing is that buying a trailer mounted rig is not that much less expensive than a truck mounted setup but a truck mounted setup has a much greater productivity capacity, not to even mention the effort involved in moving the rig unit. That said, keep in mind there is a drill for every every situation and trailer rigs do have a place – though it is a less than ideal drilling solution.

Then we looked at truck mounted rigs and the Audie CT200 came into existence. Here we started experimenting with rectangle tubing and cable. It was a great success and gave us many new ideas.

After that we made a drilling tower for a solar project with auto-leveling capabilities. This rig was mounted on tracks and we needed the tower to align to less than 10 mm accuracy, and because of the huge volume of holes to be drilled, it needed to move and align quickly.

And then came the Audie SAR200 – a robust drilling rig for the African continent at a very competitive price. This rig works with chains at a 1:2 ratio. We used the trusty F6L912 air-cooled engine and a 4 stage bushing gear-pump setup for our hydraulic power pack. The aim was to build a drilling rig for the biggest part of the African continent. As the spares are available throughout Africa this turned out to be a winner. The only real problem we had with the first Audie SAR200 rigs was that they used to go through LFX slides like there is no tomorrow. Then on version two we moved the pull up chains position and that solved the problem permanently. Here we also introduced the SAI motors as a replacement for the Staffa. Though these motors were more expensive they provided a greater range of sizes and were interchangeable with the Staffa without changes to mounting plates. All the time we were improving on our manufacturing processes. We also began documenting each manufacturing process. That gave us a baseline to improve from. This is a journey not a destination.

All along the way we were looking for that wow factor – the ‘Land Cruiser’ of drilling rigs.

The Audie Speedstar – this was the first patent pending that we did. It had a nice flat tower and handled its drilling rods automatically. The drilling rods were housed in a movable cartridge on the deck and the drill tower enabled the drill head to swing in to fetch or stow drilling rods.

The whole time we improved our business processes and also our equipment. We use Solidworks as the driver of the manufacturing process.


The main difference between our current rigs and the Audie African range of rigs is in the tower. We have changed the tower to be similar to the Audie TT300 tower – now we have a 1:1 ratio and it is a dump tower as an added benefit. A dump tower means that the tower gets put down or dumped directly on the ground. It provides more stability and less of the drilling effect affects the rigs’ other components. It also makes it possible to drill at angles. We have also simplified our whole drilling range to give all our drilling rigs the same type of tower. We now have three sizes and a total of 10 differing lengths, but they all look the same which makes the manufacturing process easier to manage. In the past we had six different looking towers – each with its own set of manufacturing procedures whereas now it is down to one set with three differing material sets. As an added advantage the cost is down by 8 percent and we have passed that saving on to our customers. We partly overcame the one big problem 1:1 towers had – that is that they weigh a lot. But for now we have a drilling rig range that can cater for most of our customers with a pull-back range of 8000 Kg in the A100 group to 22000 Kg in our A300 range. As an added bonus we have developed a rod loader for the water well driller to enhance the Audie African range of products.

I am in the process of writing cash flow projections for different drilling rig setups.
24 Farm Uitloop, Percy Fyfe Road, Mokopane
Water Well Drill Rig Manufacturer


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