Whereas many think that digger derricks are just trucks equipped with a boom, a winch, and an auger, they can also be tracked vehicles, which outperform wheeled vehicles in rough terrain and sandy, swampy, and snowy ground conditions.
The latest advances to digger derricks include alternative power options and features designed to improve capacity, productivity, ease of use, and safety.
Handle large infrastructure
Altec recently replaced its DT80 model digger derrick with introduced a new transmission derrick model called the DT85. This model was designed to meet the needs of today’s taller and heavier infrastructure. It boasts 30,000 pounds of capacity at 10 feet and a maximum sheave height of 91.4 feet. It is available with E-Series (electric/hydraulic) or H-Series (fully hydraulic) controls and a variety of options.
Terex Utilities introduced the General 65 MAX digger derrick for transmission applications at Utility Expo 2021. The General 65 MAX is an enhancement to the legacy General 65 and boasts greater capacities through all boom angles, but especially in the work zone. The increased capacity ranges from 26 percent at high boom angles with X‐boost to 80 percent at lower boom angles specifically below zero degrees (subject to chassis and unit configuration due to stability).
“The General 65 MAX is the strongest digger derrick in the transmission market,” says Joe Caywood, Director of Marketing, Terex Utilities. “Whether the transmission crew needs low boom angles for digging holes and pulling a full auger flight of dirt or unloading pad mount transformers at high boom angles, the General 65 MAX has superior lifting capacity in all positions. At zero degrees with the boom fully extended—which is the most challenging position to work from—the General 65 Max can lift almost a ton, representing an increase of more than over 80 percent.”
Improve crew performance
Numerous new features improve ease of use and when people use equipment that is easy to use, they become more productive.
Altec updated all of its E-Series derrick models with an “Indicator Light Panel”. This panel incorporates the hot oil light, the change hydraulic oil filter light, and the new “Check System” light. The latter alerts the crew to system errors, which will help companies decrease downtime and reduce costs.
“The DT85E comes standard with a load-on-hook system which provides real-time weight readings of loads applied to the winch rope on the digital display at the riding seat,” says Michael Newman, Digger Derrick Market Manager for Altec. “This best-in-class operator aid provides a simple readout for understanding machine load.”
Altec introduced a new digger shake function. This new standard feature reduces the time and effort to clean off an auger after digging.
“We brought several auger tools to market last year,” says Caywood. “The Foundation High Production Auger is designed to improve drill footage in a variety of soil conditions, while the Extreme Duty Auger is designed for longer wear in soil that is mixed with rock and boulders. Terex remains the only manufacturer that builds both digger derricks and the tools they utilize. This gives us a benefit to closely match the tool with digging conditions to optimize performance.”
Success starts with safety
Safer work environments are more productive work environments. “Slip, trip, and fall accidents are a primary source of operator injury. Reducing unnecessary movement with point-of-use station selection while providing easy-to-use ingress and egress paths can reduce jobsite hazards,” says Newman.
The DT85 offers improved ingress and egress wherever the derrick is rotated with 360 degrees of ingress and egress to the riding seat and outrigger deploying steps at the tailshelf. The automatic deployment and retraction during outrigger setup make the step easily available for operators and improve the departure angle for travel.
Safety features like five-function hydraulic overload protection, pole guide interlocks, auger and boom stow protection, and radio remote controls also improve the operator’s safety. “And enhanced operator aids and features, such as the DT85E’s load-on-hook system, the E-Series “Check System” light, and H-Series digger shake, help enhance safety, operator awareness, and productivity at the jobsite,” says Newman.
Advancing green solutions
Diesel isn’t always the best solution. Due to environmental concerns, government regulations, or personal preference, electric options are available.
“We have been working in the green solutions space for more than a decade. Our endeavors led us to exclusively partner with South Carolina-based Viatec, an expert in plug-and-play electronic PTO systems,” says Caywood. “Terex Utilities has actively worked with Viatec since 2019, focusing on simple and reliable plug-in electric PTO solutions that help minimize engine idling, reducing carbon emissions and enabling quieter equipment operation. Earlier this year, our parent company, Terex, announced that it is the lead investor in a Series B investment in Viatec. This investment will accelerate the availability of Viatec’s solutions while positioning Terex as a strategic partner in fleet electrification.”
In 2021, Terex Utilities launched the HyPower SmartPTO by Viatec. The new SmartPTO function reduces idling, which results in fuel savings, emission reductions, less noise pollution, and lower operating costs. The system functions as an ePTO and is a largely self-contained unit that includes a DC motor, vane pump, and battery management system powered by the enclosed lithium-ion batteries. It is connected to the truck’s existing hydraulic system and can operate all boom and outrigger functions without the engine running. It can’t power the auger due to the auger’s high flow power requirements. Installation is simple and straightforward due to the modular design.
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