What’s new with directional drills?

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PR Directional Drills MainOperator-centric moves

Keeping operators happy and productive continues to be a main thrust. “This positively impacts contractor’s bottom lines,” says Joshua Beddow, marketing manager, Toro, “which in turn leads to higher productivity.” Because of this, Toro is seeing higher demand for cabs, even on smaller machines. Additional features aimed the operator include color gauges/displays with more diagnostic information and ergonomically positioned controls.

After surveying operators about what they liked and disliked, Vermeer redesigned its control station so “it grouped the controls according to the operations that were used the most,” says Jon Kuyers, global product manager, underground.

All of the machines in Vermeer’s Navigator drill lineup have common controls, which help operators become proficient faster on multiple sizes of drills. “The learning curve is drastically reduced,” Kuyers says. “For instance, the thrust and rotation levers are always consistent and the mud pump, throttle and rod loader controls are all located on the joysticks.”


“Obstacle avoidance and mud disposal continue to be opportunity areas for technology improvement to increase jobsite productivity and lower jobsite costs,” says Seth Matthesen, senior project manager, Ditch Witch.

On its new JT60 and JT60 All Terrain drills, Ditch Witch also has a standard GPS offering with one-year premium service. “Users will gain valuable awareness into operator practices, idle time and service needs,” says Steve Seabolt, Ditch Witch GPS product manager, “plus owners typically receive a significant discount off their insurance premiums.”

Barbco is using programmable controllers “that provide a flexible, expandable and cost effective total machine management system,” says Tony Barbera, co-owner of Barbco.

Meeting the demands of smaller jobsites

“Drills are being built today to accommodate a smaller jobsite footprint,” adds Barbera. “This is driving manufacturers to create maxi-size drills that use 20-foot drill stems.”