Completing primarily residential wells in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan, area, third-generation Kraai Well Drilling has been in business close to 60 years. Also drilling commercial greenhouse and trailer park wells and agricultural center pivot wells, the business started doing rotary drilling during 1991.
As the number of small drilling companies in their region diminished, they increasingly picked up more work — completing more than 300 wells per year for the past 25 years. After purchasing a new rig in 2002, they saw a spike in production and began calculating the downtime cost of their aging well drilling rig fleet.
“If we’re not wrenching on rigs, we’re drilling, which is more profitable,” Chad Kraai, owner, said. “It also improves driller retention as they would rather drill then wrench.”
So they began investing in more new equipment — deciding first on a new DRILLMAX® DM250. Several factors contributed to their decision to purchase from DRILLMAX®.
“DRILLMAX® has been putting rigs out there and has a proven track record with testimonials,” Kraai said. “Donnie provides an open line of communication and you can trust that if he says he’s going to do something, he follows through with it. We weren’t getting that same type of customer service from other manufacturers.”
Kraai's experiences are similar to the testimonials he encountered.
“The versatility and multitude of jobs the DM250 can do still surprises me,” Kraai said. “It can get into small spaces and tight locations.”
The DM250’s size provides the company a competitive advantage.
“Since the DM250 weighs under 22,500 lbs, we’re able to run during frost laws when larger rigs are shut down,” Kraai said. “The driver doesn’t need a CDL, which is a huge benefit in a tough market for finding workforce.”
Efficiency and ease of operation make the DM250 well drilling rig their go-to rig.
“The DM250 drills deeper wells in tight locations very efficiently. We now use the DM250 on most wells where we would have previously used a cable-tool drill, which is very inefficient,” Kraai said. “The ease of operation also makes a smooth transition for drillers.”
Trouble with an older rig and their success with the DM250 led them to purchase a DM450 well drilling rig. Being equipped with an on-board Mudslayer® 250 makes jobs easier on the drillers.
“Operators prefer to run the DM450 since they’re not shoveling out mud pans,” Kraai explained. “We use a dump trailer to haul away cuttings from under the Mudslayer®, making clean up much easier.”
The deck-mounted Mudslayer® 250 drilling mud cleaning system also increases access and efficiency.
“The Mudslayer® allows us to get a bigger rig in closer to homes since we’re not carrying or placing a mud pan. Eliminating the mud pan behind the rig allows us to put wells in a better location for the customer,” Kraai said. “By utilizing the Mudslayer® we can support the rig with a smaller water tanker with just 2,000 gallons.”
The DM450 well drilling rig also has advantages in the cold Michigan temperatures.
“The rig has an electric oil heater, which has been good in the colder climate,” Kraai said. “It heats the oil before engaging the PTO, which seems to be much easier on the rig.”
The DM450’s versatility also makes it viable on a wide range of jobs.
“We’ve drilled 5-, 6.9-, 8-, and 10-inch wells. We’ve drilled 800 gallons/minute 10-inch wells and 20 gallons/minute wells. It covers the majority of applications,” Kraai said. “We can efficiently drill shallow 100-foot wells or tackle deeper 400-foot wells just as easily.”
The addition of the two DRILLMAX® rigs has increased production.
“Since we bought the two DRILLMAX® rigs we’ve completed 521 wells, which we attribute to reduced downtime,” Kraai said.
For Kraai, the hydraulic over electronic controls on the control panel of both rigs — which equate to easier operation and maintenance — plus great service from Donnie and the service department also contribute to the overall advantages of the DRILLMAX® well drilling rig line.
“These rigs were a large investment, but we feel it was money well spent. They put our company in a position to keep a tight schedule due to no breakdowns and lead to employee retention since they prefer running the newer equipment,” Kraai said. “We believe we’re in a strong position to be successful over the next decade.”
Whether a veteran driller or just starting out, a factory visit provides valuable insight when making the investment required to purchase a new rig. Taking time to see firsthand how the rig you’re considering is engineered and manufactured and meeting the
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