September 2023 Vol. 78 No.9


Beyond drilling: Total Boring's commitment to excellence

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In 2017, brothers Dayton and Howard Betts breathed new life into Total Boring Solutions LLC. This company swiftly emerged as a dependable provider of top-tier horizontal directional drilling (HDD) services.  

The Betts brothers, who had already founded successful ventures in Betts Telecom (1996) and 5GS (1999), welcomed a new family member into their entrepreneurial fold: Tanner Betts, Howard's son. This strategic addition led to a clear division of responsibilities, with Dayton overseeing Betts Telecom, Howard managing 5GS, and Tanner taking the reins of Total Boring's operations and business development.

Over the past five years, Total Boring Solutions has not just grown significantly; it has excelled. However, Tanner Betts emphasizes that growth is not their primary goal; it's the natural outcome of consistently delivering on their promises. Total Boring's unwavering vision is to become the undisputed industry leader. 

Betts emphasizes, "Customers drive our growth. There's a strong demand for contractors who honor their commitments, and that's why we keep expanding. When a customer asks, 'Can you do this?' our answer is always yes. And we always deliver." 

Total Boring has consistently surpassed its previous productivity records each year. Remarkably, the pandemic's challenges didn't hinder infrastructure construction as much as other sectors, allowing Total Boring to continue its growth trajectory. Despite fluctuating market prices, the company remains resilient, thanks to their focus on maximizing efficiency and productivity. In 2022, they are on track for their most successful year yet. 

Choosing the right drilling equipment, tooling, and "mud engineering" plays a pivotal role in their optimization strategy. While Total Boring boasts a diverse fleet of drilling machines and tooling from reputable manufacturers, they rely on a single vendor for their drilling fluid needs: Wyo-Ben. 

Mastering mud engineering 

Tanner Betts is always willing to share his industry insights, and he underscores the value of their partnership with Wyo-Ben. A key strength lies in Wyo-Ben's expertise in "mud" engineering, which involves tailoring drilling fluid properties to specific drilling conditions through additives. 

Wyo-Ben has been a global leader in bentonite clay production since its establishment in 1951. Today, the company operates three processing facilities in the Big Horn Basin region of Wyoming and Montana. It's particularly renowned for its drilling fluid products and its commitment to drilling fluid education and training. 

Bentonite clay possesses remarkable properties, enhancing water's ability to efficiently remove debris from drilling holes, lubricate tooling, and maintain bore wall integrity in loose soils. Wyo-Ben even offers a comprehensive "mud school" curriculum covering clay chemistry, fluid dynamics, and polymer usage. 

Betts, who has a background as a machine operator, acknowledges his competence as a mud engineer. However, drillers are known for their focus on production. Having immediate access to Wyo-Ben's mud experts provides him with additional resources to optimize drilling operations, especially for larger and more complex projects. 

Wyo-Ben's sales and training specialists, Steve McGrew and Patrick McKelvey, have been invaluable to Betts. McGrew recently conducted a Wyo-Ben mud school at Total Boring's conference room for Betts' drillers. 

Wyo-Ben also offers real-time, in-field support. Betts cites examples where McGrew's interventions resulted in a remarkable 15% boost in productivity, emphasizing that even a 5% gain holds significant value in large-scale boring operations. 

Betts appreciates that McGrew's input streamlines decision-making, allowing him to reach his most productive setup faster. "Drilling is a checklist," Betts explains. "You go through a list of items to overcome a problem or ensure you're performing at your best. When McGrew verifies my mix, I don't waste another minute tinkering with it. I can check it off my list and move on." 

Betts emphasizes the importance of questioning assumptions. In one challenging Montana job, after making several adjustments to his mix, he consulted McKelvey, who confirmed his mix was optimal. This confidence enabled Betts to focus on other aspects of the job and ultimately find the right tooling solution. 

Current project and future endeavors 

On this particular day, Total Boring was engaged in a project at an Upstate New York wind farm. Their task involved drilling 120 bores for electrical conduit ranging from 6 to 30 inches, all part of a high-voltage electricity collection system. The ground conditions were unforgiving, with hard limestone and even tougher pink granite, boasting a compressive fracture strength of around 20,000 psi or more. 

Total Boring equipped themselves with PDC bits and Tungsten Carbide Insert (TCI) hole openers. The conduit materials varied, with most being poly pipe, except for the 30-inch steel conduit that required 42-inch bores. 

Bore lengths ranged from 150 feet, with some extending even further to 1500 feet. While most bores followed a straight path, some required gentle curves. 

To tackle this job, Total Boring deployed a dual-rod Vermeer D4055DR machine, known for its reliability in rocky terrain. Subsequently, two Universal 120150 machines were brought in. Betts praised their power-to-size ratio as cost-effective, emphasizing their durability, ease of maintenance, and suitability for remote locations. 

Earlier that day, Betts had contacted McGrew to order additional truckloads of Wyo-Ben High Yield bentonite. This product was a staple for most of Total Boring's projects. Betts attested to the remarkable punctuality of Wyo-Ben's services, appreciating their efficiency. 

For this job, Total Boring utilized a "seven-bag to 1000 gal. mix," achieving impressive production rates of about 150 feet a day in limestone and 75 feet a day in the demanding pink granite. 

As Total Boring embarks on an upcoming wind farm project, they are once again tapping into Wyo-Ben's mud engineering expertise. With 100 holes to drill, including a challenging 2000-foot-long, 10-inch bore through a mountain, Total Boring remains committed to doing their absolute best. 

In Tanner Betts' words, Total Boring's primary objective is clear: "We don't just 'do' the job; we strive to do it to the absolute best of our ability." In partnership with Wyo-Ben and their unwavering dedication to excellence, Total Boring Solutions continues to set new standards in the industry, proving that they are indeed "So much more than mud." 

About Wyo-Ben 

Wyo-Ben, Inc., a privately held family-owned business, has been providing high quality drilling fluid products since 1951. Wyo-Ben’s knowledgeable customer service, sales and research people bring industry leading products and support to the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) marketplace. The innovative products are the result of field-driven solutions and dedication to the customer’s goals. For more information visit; (406) 652-6351 .

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