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Dirty Jobs: What’s New in Digging Equipment for Utility Fleets

Whether you need to dig trenches to lay underground gas lines or drill holes in which to set transmission poles, the goal is the same: to perform the job using the least amount of time, effort and financial resources, while providing the maximum amount of safety and comfort for equipment operators.

So, what are some of the new digging tools brought to market in the past few months that can help utility companies and contractors boost productivity and enhance operator safety? Here are four new products to keep your eye on.

Terex Texoma Spiral Bullet Tooth Auger
www.terex.com/utilities

What if there was a digging attachment that could reduce your drill time in extreme ground conditions from up to eight hours with a standard auger to as few as 30 minutes? That’s the value proposition for the new Terex Texoma spiral bullet tooth auger, according to Dale Putnam, Terex Utilities product manager.

He said that the cut pattern and tooth attack angle on the Texoma auger make the bullet teeth act like “fingers” that penetrate and lift up sand, dirt, cobble, cement, fractured or hard rock, compacted soil or frozen ground, in a way that achieves faster cycle times in and out of the hole, so that crews can get more jobs done in less time.

“The auger tooling a contractor uses should be performance-matched – not only to the drill rig but also to the ground conditions the rig is operating in,” Putnam said. “Too often, contractors spend a lot of time and effort trying to push an inefficient auger tool into tough ground conditions, resulting in slow production rates and excessive wear and tear on the tool.”

The Texoma spiral bullet tooth auger is designed for most ground conditions and is adaptable to any size of digger derrick truck.

Altec DT105 Digger Derrick
www.altec.com

Introduced earlier this year, the DT105 is Altec’s largest digger derrick, with a 105-foot sheave height and 60,000 pounds maximum capacity. The DT105 is an ideal unit for transmission maintenance and construction but can also be used in a wide range of other applications.

According to Altec, the DT105 is the only digger derrick that comes standard with the Altec Load Moment Limiter Hirschmann display. This system allows the operator to set audible alarms and soft-stop kick-outs for area protection, and set pressure limits on the auger for both digging and cleaning to prevent equipment damage. Additionally, the Opti-View riding seat provides clear line of sight for operators and offers easy ingress and egress to enhance operator comfort and efficiency.

Ditch Witch RT125 Quad Utility Tractor
www.ditchwitch.com

Long hours on the job site can take a toll on equipment operators. So, the new Ditch Witch RT125 Quad utility tractor features a redesigned operator station to boost productivity and prevent fatigue for operators during those long days on the job.

Operator comfort enhancements include an ergonomic, high-back rotating seat; upgraded control console with 120-degree rotation and easy-to-read gauges; more legroom and upgraded foot-pedal design; and a tilt steering column. The machines are also equipped with a 5-inch color LCD engine display for direct insight into engine performance information and diagnostics.

Also, the tractor’s quad track system, combined with rear steering, allows for a tighter turn radius and greater maneuverability to work more efficiently on any terrain. And the quad track frames provide a low center of gravity for improved stability and production.

For projects that require extra pull, the tractor’s shift-on-the-fly ground drive system senses load condition and automatically adjusts settings for optimal performance.

CASE CX130D and CX160D Excavators
www.casece.com

CASE Construction Equipment recently introduced two new crawler excavators to its D Series lineup: the CX130D and CX160D. These new models are designed to achieve cycle times up to 5 percent faster, offer improved responsiveness and multifunctional controls, and provide up to 8 percent greater fuel efficiency, compared to previous models.

The basic operating specs include:
● CX130D: 102 horsepower; 29,131 pounds; bucket digging force: 20,233 to 21,357 foot-pounds.
● CX160D: 112 horsepower; 38,391 pounds; bucket digging force: 25,179 to 26,527 foot-pounds.

According to CASE, faster cycle times are achieved through a new electronically controlled pump, a larger control valve and multiple sensors. These features combine with the CASE Intelligent Hydraulic System and its four integrated control systems to make optimal use of the machine’s hydraulic power and momentum, resulting in added strength and fuel efficiency.

The CX130D and CX160D excavators also provide the operator with three working modes – Speed Priority, Heavy and Automatic – that help the machines conserve energy and exert only as much power as is needed to complete the job at hand.

The arm and boom of each new excavator have been built stronger for greater durability and to support the added power of the machines. The undercarriage is built with thicker steel and a new single-slope design that reduces dirt accumulation and eases cleaning. The CX130D is also available with an optional front dozer blade that provides added stability, while improving grading and backfilling capabilities.

Each machine is available with a new, optional LED working light package that provides illumination similar to sunlight – and is more than three times brighter than halogen lamps – allowing contractors to work at any time of day or night. The package includes six LED lights (two front, two rear and one on each side) and a side-view camera.

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5 Keys to Digging Safety
How should your crews operate trenching equipment with maximum safety in mind? Katie Pullen, Warren Anderson and Philippe Bisson – brand marketing managers at CASE Construction Equipment – offer these five guidelines:

1. Know the surroundings and the location of people and objects. Do a full walkaround prior to excavation.

2. Make sure that all underground utilities have been marked and identified.

3. Take advantage of mirrors and cameras on equipment to improve visibility and site awareness.

4. Be mindful of tire or track orientation and avoid rapid movements during operation.

5. Follow regulations related to trench boxes and retaining systems when digging ditches.


Sean M. Lyden

Sean M. Lyden is the editor of Utility Fleet Professional magazine.

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