SolidWorks customers play vital roles in the Chilean mine rescue effort

Late last night, after being underground for over 69 days, the last of the 33 men trapped in a mine in Chile made the 2,041-foot journey back to the surface. No one in recorded history has ever survived so long trapped beneath the Earth. The rescue effort mounted to save the miners was one of the most extraordinary events in recent memory, involving groups ranging from the miners’ families to NASA. It stands as an amazing feat of human faith, ingenuity, and engineering.

We learned recently that two of the companies directly involved in the rescue effort are also SolidWorks customers. Schramm, Inc. of West Chester PA is a manufacturer of drilling rigs, supplying equipment to mining, energy and geothermal businesses around the world. Schramm rigs were used both for drilling the hole that helped find the miners, and for the “Plan B” tunnel that was used to bring the miners back to safety. Schramm even sent people to the rescue site to help with the operation.

You can’t drill a hole without drill heads, and the ones used for the Plan B tunnel were supplied by Center Rock of Berlin, PA. Center Rock’s pneumatic-driven drill heads chip away at rock like a jackhammer, and the system used in the Plan B tunnel used four separate heads to help reach the miners in a little more than half of the time originally estimated. According to the Center Rock website, CEO Brandon Fisher even went to Chile to direct the drilling effort personally.

On behalf of the entire SolidWorks and Dassault Systèmes organizations, I would like to personally thank and congratulate the Schramm and Center Rock teams for their dedication to the rescue effort, as well as all of the other individuals and groups from around the world who participated. Because of their contributions, all 33 miners are back with their families, healthy and unharmed. This is something to celebrate, and testament to what can be accomplished when people work together for a common goal.

Again, congratulations. Our hats go off to you.


Jeff Ray

CEO, Dassault Systemès SolidWorks Corp.