Tribe Tech to build first of its kind automated drilling rig in Northern Ireland

  • Sync NI sat down with Charlie King, Director at Tribe Tech, to discuss the company’s new automated drilling rig that is being built in Northern Ireland, which is set to revolutionise exploration drilling.

    When Charlie first moved to Australia to work in the mining industry 11 years ago he could never have imagined the scale of the project he is now managing. Charlie admits that it has been a “whirlwind, but very, very exciting.”

    The project that the Tribe Tech team are currently working on is a new first of its kind autonomous drill rig. When created, the drill will eliminate some of the risks that come with exploration drilling.

    This kind of drilling is currently very dangerous for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s all done manually, and in the extremely hot temperatures of Australian summers, heavy manual labour such as this can be extremely dangerous for workers. The drilling also requires long hours, 12 and 14 hour shifts around a lot of compressed air and huge hydraulic forces, which is also very risky.

    This is where Tribe Tech wants to change things. The company is building an automated drill in order to eliminate the dangerous conditions these workers face. The project aims to take the people off the sites and instead make a mechanical, hydraulic, electronic solution for these processes. 

    Northern Ireland has been chosen as the location to build the product for a number of reasons. Firstly, Charlie is originally from Crossgar, which he admits is one of the reasons he wanted the project to be built here. Charlie also acknowledges that it was due to “seeing the skill sets that are available here and the strong proud history of heavy manufacturing.”

    Charlie also notes that a lot of the original heavy manufacturing companies are leaving Northern Ireland, so Tribe Tech “thought it was a really good opportunity to come in and retrain some of those people with family heritage's or who have previously been employed by any of those big companies that are now dialling back or ceasing to exist in Northern Ireland.”

    Charlie says the attitude of Northern Irish people was another reason the company wanted to locate the project here. He adds that in Northern Ireland the company had “the ability to get people with a high skill set, and that had that enthusiasm to work and do a good hard day's work and be proud of it” which Charlie says “is brilliant.”

    Tribe Tech has moved their head office from Australia to Northern Ireland and are currently growing a team to work on the project. The company has a number of roles to fill and are recruiting for a number of positions ranging from executive management all the way down to apprentices. Charlie says there is a broad spectrum of roles right across the company such as welders, fabricators, heavy diesel mechanics, fitters and engineers.

    Tribe Tech are already growing their team rapidly in Northern Ireland. So far this year they have hired around 15 people and are set to hire another 10 within the next month. There are a range of roles available at the moment and will be more in the coming months.. Charlie says he would encourage those interested in joining the company to submit their CV even if they don’t see a particular role that appeals to them that is posted now, as they are “building a whole operation ground up.”

    The company is also eager to add more women to their growing team. Charlie says that no matter what their background, any women with a good work ethic that are interested in getting involved should apply. Charlie adds that the company “would love to hear from any female applicants.”

    On the current team there are mechanical engineers, right through to the production team on the shop floor, fabricating the machine, and Charlie tells us the project “is pushing all of those skill sets” and the team members are “rising to the challenge and enjoying it.” He adds that challenging the team members skill sets creates “professional development and professional excellence.”

    Charlie explains that it works both ways in the company. Tribe Tech provides a number of perks and a salary above the industry average. Charlie tells us: “we look after our people, we want excellence, but we will look after our people better than anywhere as well.”

    Charlie concludes that the project is ideal for anyone who wants to work on “doing something different while working within a young, growing and exciting company.”

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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