Piling Canada

FDS Foundation Drilling Services Inc.

Having all the necessary drilling tools and casings on hand can be a problem for foundation drilling companies when starting new projects. This Toronto company’s rental service can ensure the equipment is there when needed
Written by Mark Halsall
November 2020

Photo: FDS Foundation Drilling Services Inc.

For those in the deep foundation drilling business, sourcing the right size and quantity of tools for each project can be a dilemma because each project can be different and equipment availability can be limited.

FDS Foundation Drilling Services Inc. (FDS) says it has a solution: why not rent, rather than buy the equipment?

“That way, you can get the right sizes and quantity for each project without having to invest lots of capital for each project. In addition, you don’t have to wait for several weeks or sometimes months for your equipment,” said Paul Sandberg, vice president of FDS.

Based in Toronto, FDS is a speciality rental house for drilling tools and casings for the deep foundation construction industry. It was founded in July 2019 to service foundation drilling firms in Canada and the U.S., and although it’s only been around a year and a half, the business is continuously growing with plans to open a new location on the West Coast in the very near future.

“We’re expanding very rapidly,” said Sandberg. “We’re really focused on growing throughout North America, so the West Coast will only be the next step with more branches in the U.S.A. and Canada to follow very soon after that.”

The ownership of FDS is shared by Sandberg, Lars Richter, who is the company’s president, and Torsten Hoffman, who owns FDS sister company, BWH, which rents out foundation drilling equipment in Europe. Sandberg says between the two businesses they have a very large inventory of drilling tools and several kilometres of segmental casings.

FDS was born out of conversations between Richter and Hoffman. The two men had many business dealings in the past and one of the things that would come up was the troublesome issue for contractors to have the right size and quantity of equipment available on short notice to start projects on time.

“With big projects, you can end up with something like eight drilling machines and 450 metres of casing after that job. This requires a significant amount of capital investment and availability from good manufacturers is often limited,” said Richter. “That’s when we said, ‘Okay, it would be interesting to set up a rental business where companies can rent casings for a certain period of time, and where a wide variety of tools and sizes are readily available in large quantities at locations close by.’”

It proved to be a popular idea and today FDS services foundation drilling projects from Vancouver to Florida, and from California to Newfoundland.

Wide range of equipment

The company’s rental stock covers a wide range of equipment including casings for drilling with diameters from 620 mm to 2.5 metres, buckets, augers, core barrels and casing oscillators. All of FDS’s casings and tools are procured from renowned manufacturers such as Leffer and Bauer.

“In addition to rental of drilling tools and casings, FDS also offers sale options for the customers who want to invest in high quality tools and casings,” said Sandberg. “With our large inventory, customers don’t have to worry about long lead times and can gear up quickly for new projects.”

To support the maintenance of rented or sold drilling tools and casings, FDS also sells high quality wear parts and spare parts from stock.

FDS’s inventory is warehoused at their large work yard located in Innisfil, Ont., about a half-hour drive north of Toronto. Rentals are sent out on standard delivery trucks and Sandberg says the company does whatever it can to ensure the process is simple and easy for clients.

“Typically, we organize everything for our customers,” he said. “We’ll organize the transport and if it’s going across the border to the U.S., we organize all the customs paperwork and everything. We have customs brokers on both sides of the border so we can deliver anywhere in North America on short notice, without any problems.

“There are a number of companies, basically distributors for equipment, who will occasionally also rent some equipment, but our focus is really on this niche market and providing our customers with professional service.”

Getting equipment in their customers’ hands quickly is one measure of that commitment to service.

“If you order a casing, it can take up to 12 weeks from the order to the delivery in Canada. So that’s a three-month process if things are good. We shorten the wait period because we have all the tools and casings available to our fingertips in our yards,” said Richter.

Sandberg says FDS also offers cross-rentals, which enables companies to increase revenue on their own inventory of tools and casings. They can rent this equipment out to FDS when it’s not being used and FDS will rent it out to other foundation drilling companies.

Equipment rental isn’t the only thing FDS does. The company also services and repairs casings and drilling tools as well as Kelly bars. Richter says FDS offers a unique service that benefits customers through an asset management system, which traces the service and repair history of each tool and casing that leaves the company’s work yard.

“We do everything on a very professional level,” said Sandberg. “When a casing or a tool goes out, there’s a very detailed inspection report on the condition of the casing or the tool. When it comes back in, there is another detailed inspection report, so we know exactly the condition of a tool or casing, and we know exactly what has to be done on it.”

Expert advice

Richter has extensive experience in the deep foundation business. It includes setting up subsidiaries for Bauer Construction in the Netherlands and Canada, and leading the foundation division of the British construction firm Laing O’Rourke. He also founded Aecon Foundations, a division of the prominent Canadian construction company Aecon.

Sandberg’s expertise is on the equipment side of the construction industry. His work in the crane rental business took him all around the world and prior to FDS he ran the deep foundation division for the Liebherr Group, a major supplier of crawler cranes and other construction equipment.

Due to the extensive experience of its management team, FDS is able to provide expert advice to customers looking for assistance with their deep foundation construction projects.

“We can help customers find the right equipment for their jobs,” Sandberg said. “We had a customer in Quebec, for instance, who came to us and said, ‘We’ve got this project and we need to drill a certain diameter of casings.’ We helped them to determine which machines to use, what tooling to use, what kind of casings to use and then helped them determine a [drilling] method to use.

“We went to the market and found a machine for them, in addition to the tools and casings, then basically put everything together for them.”

There are lots of other examples of FDS providing this kind of service, Richter said, “We like to see ourselves as a one-stop shop.”  Piling Canada

Category: Profile

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.

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