Vermeer's new PD10R drill, introduced at The Utility Expo and directed at solar installation contractors, now can be outfitted with point-to-point automated machine positioning technology.
"We've always had GPS integration," says Bo Howell, product specialist with Vermeer. "Point-to-point takes that GPS technology to another level, navigating the pile driver while tracking the machine." The point-to-point system repositions the machine automatically using the onboard GPS.
After driving a pile, the operator uses a remote control console to press a button and the PD10R travels and aligns itself to drive the next pile. "We've basically boiled it down to one manual step: physically loading the post into the guides," Howell says. "Everything else is done with a single button motion, stepping the machine through the sequence."
While labor constraints have been a pain point across the entire construction industry, Bode says the solar industry has been especially receptive to adopting equipment technology to combat labor shortages. "We're trying to take some of the human error out of the equation," Howell says. Solar contractors typically use a fleet of drills to install a solar field, especially on large installations that cover several hundred acres.
Vermeer says the system reduces the number of operational steps involved in moving the machines around solar farm construction projects, which can involve drilling hundreds of piles before installing racking and solar panels. The point-to-point system moves the drill's mast orientation using the PD10R's auto-plumb function. Operator input is reduced by eight steps.
The system works by syncing GPS coordinates with a digital project map of identified pile sites. After a pile is installed, the system recognizes the next waypoint (or pile location) on the map, and then positions itself into alignment. The unit also has red bump bars on each side that disengage the machine if it encounters an obstacle.
"The whole idea is to get as many posts into the ground as possible and as safely as possible," Howell says.