Drilling software for drilling contractors: The ultimate guide
Drilling managers tell us that efficient and cost-effective operations are critical to the success of their drilling businesses.
Did you know that drilling software can play a significant role in helping you to achieve these goals?
In this guide, we will explore the types of drilling software, key features, benefits and what leading drilling contractors servicing the mining and minerals industry are doing in this space.
We will also provide tips and resources for choosing the right software for your drilling company and implementing it effectively.
After reading, you will have all the information you need to understand how drilling software can improve your operations and bottom line. You will also clearly understand the next steps for implementing drilling software in your own drilling business.
Geologists and exploration managers: read our exploration-specific guide to drilling software here.
“Drilling software” describes various software solutions that relate to all aspects of drilling, such as planning, scheduling, operations, data management, data analytics and more.
Drilling software can be used as part of a drilling contractor’s strategy to improve efficiency and reduce costs. By digitising data and making it more accessible, managers can make better-informed decisions across the drilling lifecycle.
Drilling software can be either on-premises or cloud-based. Some also offer integrations with other types of drilling software to better understand the entire end-to-end drilling process.
Let’s begin by looking at the most popular types of drilling software Australian drilling contractors are using.
Daily drilling report management software
Daily drilling report ("DDR" or "plod") management software is a two-step digital solution for capturing and managing drill plods.
It begins in the field, where drillers use a digital plod form or drill plod app to replace paper-based plods. The digital plod is then uploaded to a web portal where drilling managers can edit and share the data with their exploration clients, usually in PDFs.
DDR management software often includes basic reporting and analytics to help managers keep track of the number of plods captured, metres drilled etc.
Drilling management software
Drilling management software is a modern solution for drilling contractors to manage all aspects of their drilling workflow. Its capabilities include drilling data capture, cost summaries, performance analysis, reporting and sharing data from the field with clients.
The software helps drilling managers keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the field by centralising and standardising drilling activity data in one place.
Drilling operations software
Drilling operations software is an industry-leading digital tool for drilling contractors to manage their entire operations.
This comprehensive software package includes tools to help plan, manage, execute and report on all aspects of their drilling and operations, such as client and staff management, cost records, performance reports, invoice management, contracts, scheduling and more. It also includes a digitised process for capturing, validating and analysing drilling data to deliver insights into drilling performance.
By bringing drilling and operational data together, drilling managers can see how their rigs, crews, scheduling and other activities interact and contribute to the bottom line. From here, they can set and track goals and performance benchmarks across the entire business.
Other types of drilling software
There are also other types of drilling software, such as drilling reporting and analytics software. These are occasionally sold as standalone products but are often found in drilling operations or drilling management software.
Here is a complete list of drilling software that drilling contractors need to know about and why if you’d like to dive deeper into this topic.
The best drilling software?
The answer to this question will depend on a range of factors. Whilst we don’t know the specifics of your business, we can give some general advice and share with you what leading drilling contractors like DDH1, Seismic Drilling Australia, Topdrill and Topdrive Drilling are doing.
Why “it depends”
Every drilling business faces problems. Most will have more than one. The best type of drilling software is one that addresses as many of the issues you want to solve. Even better if it can also help you with the problems you might not be experiencing now but that will enter the picture in the future. Increased overheads are one example that might apply to your business.
Once you narrow down your problems, you can create a long list of service providers and solutions. Then, you can narrow them down by comparing the other aspects that make up the complete user experience, like the product interface and customer service.
By acknowledging the problems you’re trying to solve at the beginning, you’ll save a lot of time with a more targeted search. This means you’ll be less likely to be distracted by features that won’t bring you closer to your goals.
Read our guide to buying drilling software for free, helpful tips on choosing the right drilling software.
How Australia's leading drilling contractors choose drilling software
Consolidating multiple products
Anyone who runs a drilling business knows that there are a lot of moving parts that need to be controlled. But getting a handle on them can be complicated when the details are spread across multiple systems.
How can you be clear on how your business is performing at any given moment if all of your data is spread between paper plods, apps, spreadsheets and software licenses?
This is why Australia’s leading drilling contractors are switching to cloud-based software that centralises and standardises data across their entire business.
When the data is in the same location and format, it’s possible to slice and dice it to reveal new insights previously hidden in silos.
It’s also much faster to find the information you need when you know exactly where you need to go to find it. Plus, everyone on the team can stay on the same page because they are all consulting a single source of truth.
The traditional way of running a drilling business requires a lot of double-handling.
Drillers use paper plods to record the drilling, and then the office team transcribe it into a spreadsheet. Then, the data is copied into an invoice and sent to the client. But then the client might come back with changes, so the office has to return to the drillers.
The problem is the drilling happened weeks ago, and nobody can remember what happened that day. Maybe they’ve even headed home, and they’re not picking up the phone. Meanwhile, weeks have passed since the work was done, and you haven’t been paid.
Leading Australian drilling contractors have decided that enough is enough. They’re embracing the power of automation to handle this painful workflow for them - in a fraction of the time and cost.
Plod automation in modern drilling software saves hours of admin time each week by removing double-handling. This is because it digitises the data in the first instance with the drillers on-site, ending the repetitive copy-paste process.
Plod data is sent to the office automatically and run against the rate schedule for easy and accurate approval, reporting and client billing. Finally, the data can be sent to the client with a click of a button - or better yet, provided through their own client portal with a full breakdown of costs and performance, so there are no surprises at invoicing time.
All in all, the data travels through the complete lifecycle in just minutes. And the time savings scale with the size of your operations.
Here’s how Kalgoorlie drilling contractor, Terra Drilling, uses plod automation to save over 30 hours of admin time per week.
As business costs rise and the mining industry’s technology landscape rapidly evolves, drilling contractors need cheaper, faster-to-deploy solutions. They don’t want to be stuck with hardware and infrastructure that fall behind the times, nor want to be locked into lengthy contracts.
And so, they are switching to cloud-based software that gives them the flexibility they need to respond to today’s challenging operating environment - from anywhere in the world.
Drilling professionals spend a lot of time on the road, and a lot of ‘stuff’ needs to come along for the ride. Safety documents, pre-start forms, policy and procedure documentation and plod books are just some things that have to get from the office to the rig for every job.
But they also need to get back from the rig ASAP once the work is done so that you can get paid.
A common way this is done is to snap a photo of paper documentation and send it to the office via WhatsApp, email or DropBox. This works, but there’s still that element of double-handling where the office team then have to copy data from a pixellated image into a spreadsheet and weed out any mistakes that might have accidentally made their way into the report.
Cloud-based software offers an alternative solution where documentation can travel with you on your device. Site data can be transferred instantly to the office in a pre-set format, eradicating the double-handling element. Mistakes can also be reduced by introducing rules to the data capture process (eg drilling intervals cannot overlap, the sum of all time activities must equal 12 hours, a site supervisor must sign off on the data before the end of the shift etc).
The cloud also enables documents to be updated remotely. Crews will receive the latest information directly to their devices as required.
Read our breakdown of cloud-based software for drilling and how it compares to on-premises alternatives.
All-in-one software used by DDH1 and Topdrill
Here’s how leading drilling contractors like Topdrill and DDH1 bring these capabilities to their teams.
They’re using drilling operations software - but not just any operations software.
In fact, it’s a new category of drilling software altogether.
At CorePlan, we call it drilling intelligence software because it brings drilling and operational data together to give drilling managers previously inaccessible insights into drilling and business performance.
Drilling managers have always had questions about how to optimise their business performance. Questions like:
- Should we buy a new rig - or change how we use or allocate our existing rigs?
- How are different time activities contributing to our bottom line? How can we ensure that we’re maximising bit-on-bottom time?
- What’s driving variances in performance between our crews, and what can we do about it to provide a more consistent experience for our clients?
The difference is that today they have the tools they need to answer them quickly and accurately using evidence from their data, not gut feel.
Drilling intelligence found in drilling operations software is one of these tools.
How drilling intelligence takes drilling operations to the next level
Drilling intelligence is changing the game for drilling managers by centralising their drilling and operational data and presenting it to make insights accessible in a way that hasn’t previously been possible. This means that drilling managers can solve business problems and ask important questions about their operations. Questions they may not have even thought to ask before.
Here’s how General Manager, Paul, from Seismic Drilling used drilling intelligence to set and track rig utilisation goals for his team.
Drilling software trends
The way exploration teams operate is changing
One force driving drilling managers towards using software is the changing needs of their exploration clients.
Explorers now have to look deeper into the ground and spend more money to find the next ore body. Because the cost of exploring is going up, investors expect Exploration Managers to make data-driven decisions. To do this, they need their drilling contractors to supply the data they need when they need it - and today, that’s a digital format.
Client-focused drilling contractors are making the switch now to stay ahead of the curve and get acquainted with new technologies before their competitors do.
A changing mining landscape
Not to mention, it’s an uncertain time for the mining industry. The cost of doing business is rising, the supply chain is still recovering from COVID-19 and finding great staff can seem impossible.
Drilling contractors need to respond to macro trends by finding ways to either optimise performance or reduce costs. Ideally, both!
But to do this (the right way), you need data.
Enter the need for drilling software, particularly drilling intelligence software. By bringing data from right across your business to your fingertips, this software is helping busy drilling managers to unlock insights into business performance drivers.
Try drilling software and start growing your operations today
Ready to remove leakage, drill more metres and delight your clients?
Then you’re ready to take your operations to the next level with drilling intelligence.