- Mike Rispin, VP of Strata Tunneling
- Chris Hebert, VP of Underground
- Dick McLane, Chief Chemical Engineer
- Josh Jonasen, Mechanical Engineer
In January 2022 Strata Worldwide’s VP of Tunneling, Mike Rispin hosted a webcast discussion with a team of Traylor Bros., Inc. engineers to discuss the novel Boraid® line. This discussion highlighted the 2021 partnership agreement between Strata and Traylor Bros. for the distribution of Boraid® ground conditioners, polymers, and shield sealant products to the general tunneling market.
Chris Hebert, VP of Underground at Traylor Bros, stated that the decision to sell their in-house products originally came about due to market demand. “Contractors who had seen our products in use on projects were asking how they could get them, and the answer had always been that we don’t sell them to other companies,” he said. “However, after some internal discussions, we decided to make them available to the general market. When we released them, they pretty much sold themselves. We had great success the first year without really trying, so we made the decision to partner with Strata to help us reach an even bigger market.”
Hebert says the partnership with Strata was a natural fit; both companies have a history of developing innovative products for underground industries. He says both companies see providing quality products, along with years of industry expertise, as a way of improving the industry overall and to solve problems common to the working environment.
The Traylor Bros. products were developed on tunneling projects, with engineers and chemists working on variations until they found formulas that worked in very specific conditions. Bert’s Drilling Juice was developed by foreman Bert Dore who has 40 years of experience in the field. The unique product names make them easy to remember and simple to order.
Hebert reiterated that these products were never originally designed for sale to other companies. “We just made products that worked,” he says. “These are not products developed in a laboratory; they were tested on actual projects. If something didn’t work, we kept iterating until we found a formulation that did. That’s why we’re confident that they’ll work for contractors. They’ve been tested and proved over time on projects of our own.”
For contractors to have a North American supplier takes a lot of the risk and potential delay out of ordering product from overseas. Companies don’t have to worry about product getting stuck in foreign ports, which allows contractors the ability to use Just-in-Time inventory management for their projects. Dick McLane, Chief Chemical Engineer at Traylor Bros. says the products that Traylor Bros. offers work for about 90 percent of tunneling project conditions, and having a domestic source of quality products makes a big difference for companies who are trying to manage product supply over the course of a project.
Traylor Bros.’ Mechanical Engineer, Josh Jonasen added that product supply can be a big problem. “You try to estimate and purchase enough for the whole project then have to manage storage. When you inevitably run out, you hope you’ll get lucky with finding a supplier who can provide what you need when you need it.”
- Soilax AC: a concentrate designed specifically for conditioning cohesive clays used with Earth Pressure Balance tunneling machines. Soilax AC makes the muck less sticky, which reduces the need for cleaning conveyers.
- Soilax S is designed specifically for sands and silts. Traylor Bros. has used it to drill in tar sands in California, so it’s been tested in the field under the toughest conditions.
- Soilax P is a polymer used to provide excavation stability in very sandy ground with high water content.
- Brush Butter is a driving grade tail sealant for tunnel boring machines. It is formulated to provide protection of the wire brushes and tightness of the tail seal. It’s specifically designed to seal against water, muck, and backfill grout from penetrating through the tail seal brushes of tunnel boring machines
- Bert’s Drilling Juice is a concentrate designed specifically for conditioning sands and silts where additional lubrication at the cutting face and muck stability during handling is desired. It lubricates the cutting face, reducing wear of tools, cutterhead, and screw conveyors.
Mike Rispin said that the Traylor Bros.’ product development is a great example of a virtuous cycle: experienced engineers building products that work and offering their expertise to the market to improve everyone’s productivity.
McLane adds that everyone in the tunneling industry is looking for the same thing: a way to do the work better, cheaper, faster, more efficiently, and more safely. “Our company built tools and products that worked for us, and we’re pleased that other companies see them as beneficial for them."
Watch the webcast video: