Another year has flown by here at the Utility Contractor headquarters, and it was another busy one for our crew. Between covering tradeshows (like the behemoth that is bauma) and understanding exactly who was doing what to reach Tier 4 Final deadlines, we’re ready for a little R&R over holiday break. But as exhausting as it can all be, we thoroughly enjoyed watching new equipment announcements pop up in our inboxes and machines roll off production lines at product launches. There were plenty of innovative products launched in the past year, but unfortunately, we just don’t have the room to cover them all.
Over the next six pages, check out eight products that stood out from the pack and helped utility construction and excavation professionals check off their to-do lists. And even though another year is in the books, there’s no time to rest. We’ll be on the lookout in 2014 as CONEXPO-CON/AGG (March 4-8) brings the industry together for a jam-packed week of new products, solutions and machinery. There’s no doubt our hands will be full with plenty of press releases, so rest assure, we’ll be here to share.
Pam Kleineke is Associate Editor of Utility Contractor.
Komatsu Engineers Its D61i-23 with Fully Automatic Blade Control
There’s a first for everything, and Komatsu America Corp.’s D61EXi/PXi-23 dozer proves just that. The D61EXi/PXi-23 seamlessly transitions from rough dozing to finish grading, thanks to its first fully automatic blade control — allowing both experienced and inexperienced operators to benefit. Longer track-on ground standard (EX) and low ground pressure (PX) models are available to offer customers flotation and weight distribution options that best match their applications. Inside the cab, customer selectable dozing modes allow system response to be tailored to the current machine operation. Similarly, blade load settings are adjustable between pre-sets to match actual material conditions. Pass to pass, the intelligent Machine Control system can be left with the automatic blade control engaged because of its ability to precisely automate the lowering of the blade at the start of a pass and raise it at the end of a pass. When the D61i-23 travels around the jobsite, the cab top GNSS antenna collects accurate surface data by measuring actual elevations. The stroke sensing angle cylinder measures the actual angle of the blade for high precision grading accuracy on cross-slope, blade angled or not. When rough dozing, the automatic blade control monitors blade load and adjusts blade elevation to minimize track slip and perform high-efficiency dozing. As work progresses closer to the target finish grade, the automatic blade control adjusts accordingly to provide finish grade performance with high-level precision. For more information, visit www.komatsuamerica.com.
The Power of Two
John Deere’s 644K Hybrid Wheel Loader Harnesses Both Diesel and Electric Energy
Thanks to its ability to utilize two sources of energy (diesel and electric), the 644K Hybrid Wheel Loader from John Deere offers the best of both worlds for value-driven customers looking to lower owning and operating costs. The hybrid loader captures regenerated energy as it’s being created and uses it to power the machine. It is the first construction class hybrid wheel loader on the market. The 644K Hybrid is equipped with a John Deere PowerTech 6.8-L Tier 4 Interim engine that runs at an operator-selected constant speed from 900 to 1,800 rpm. The hybrid boasts a net 229 hp and is equipped with all the key features of the conventional John Deere K-Series wheel loader line. The machine’s hybrid technology delivers performance that is equal to or better than the conventional 644K, depending on the application. The engine’s constant operating speed maintains continuous hydraulic flow at all times, which delivers crisp hydraulic responsiveness and reduces cycle times. The electric motor smoothly delivers torque resulting in fluid operation and a smoother ride. As a result, the 644K Hybrid delivers optimal performance for novice and experienced operators alike. Another benefit of the hybrid design is noise reduction on the jobsite. Since the engine runs at a constant speed instead of increasing and decreasing speed as the machine is worked, the engine noise is continuous and therefore less noticeable to both the operator inside the cab and bystanders outside. For more information, visit www.deere.com.
The Ditch Witch RT120 Quad and RT120 Ride-On Tractors Increase Productivity for Utility Installations
Hitting deadlines is key to a profitable job, so efficiency from both your equipment and crew are important in reaching those goals. Now, utility and excavation contractors can get more done in less time with the Ditch Witch RT-series. The series includes the 2013-released RT120 Quad tractor and highly versatile RT120 tractor — both built with a heavy-duty undercarriage. Featuring a best-in-class ground clearance of 15.5 in. and a 1,500-lb track frame engineered to tilt, the RT120 Quad and RT120 tractors help operators more accurately trench vertically on uneven terrain and more productively around bar ditches and creek beds. Powered by a 120-hp, Tier 4 Deutz engine, the RT120 Quad and RT120 tractors’ three-speed, shift-on-the-fly transmission allows operators to quickly adjust to changing ground conditions. For jobsite versatility, both tractors can handle several attachments for a range of underground construction tasks, including a combination trencher/plow attachment, an individual plow, a backhoe, a reel carrier and two types of saw and trencher attachments. For more information, visit www.ditchwitch.com.
Small, but Mighty
Wacker Neuson’s 803 Mini Excavator Shows Good Things Come in Small Packages
Wacker Neuson’s 803 mini excavator may be the smallest in the company’s growing line of compact equipment, but it can certainly hold its own. The 0.8-ton mini excavator is designed for digging and demolition applications in tight spaces. At just 27.5 in. wide, this compact machine fits through standard doorways, making it ideal for interior applications. The 803 comes standard with rubber tracks suitable for driving on interior floors and the foldable ROPS reduces the machine height for even more accessibility. The unique ROPS design takes user comfort to the next level by adding an optional debris guard between the work-group and operator station, making demolition applications an easier task. This robust mini excavator is powered by a three-cylinder, 13-hp diesel engine and includes an advanced hydraulic system. Wacker Neuson’s 803 mini excavator also features a telescopic undercarriage that can extend from 27.5 in. to 34 in. for greater stability and lifting power. Professional contractors and rental customers alike will appreciate the simple design of the control panel and its overall ease of operation. The 803 is equipped with a pattern control selector for added flexibility. Service and maintenance are also easy by simply opening the large engine cover where all technical components are accessible. For more information, visit www.wackerneuson.com.
Comfort and Power Reign Supreme with Case’s SR210 Skid Steer
There are a lot of impressive features on the new SR210 from Case, from its Tier 4 Final solution to its hydraulic flow options. But it was the machine’s controls that caught our eye. The SR210 offers a new EZ EH (electro-hydraulic) setup menu that features nine preset speed and control settings that can be adjusted on the fly. This allows the operator to match controls to their preference for comfort and greater productivity. A single rocker switch allows operators to switch between the Case “H” operating pattern and ISO pattern controls. New handles with additional “feel points” improve controllability and feathering as well. The new machine increases its rated operating capacity to 2,100 lbs when compared to its predecessor, the SR200. The cooled exhaust gas recirculation (CEGR) engine design with particulate matter catalyst helps reduce maintenance and increases engine power by 10 percent. The SR210 also features one of the largest cabs and lowest entry thresholds in the industry, improving operator comfort. Weighing in at 6,970 lbs, the SR210 is an excellent all-purpose skid steer that offers standard (24.2 gpm) and high-flow auxiliary (33.2 gpm) hydraulics for excellent power and attachment versatility. Rated at 74 gross hp, the new machine boasts class-leading bucket breakout force (7,270 lbs) and torque (232 ft-lbs). For more information, visit www.casece.com.
Vermeer’s D9x13 S3 Navigator HDD Conquers Emissions Standards, Improves Efficiency
Built to tackle Tier 4 Final regulations, Vermeer has introduced the D9x13 S3 Navigator HDD — the first of the S3 generation of drills — which features improved hydraulic efficiency and enhanced speed for greater drilling performance. The D9x13 S3 is designed for the installation of utilities such as communication, power, gas and water, as well as some limited sewer applications. With the smallest footprint in its class, this machine is ideal for installation projects in congested urban areas. The D9x13 S3 has a 44-hp Kubota Tier 4 Final engine, delivering 9,000 lbs of thrust/pullback and 1,300 ft-lbs of rotational torque. A new hydrostatic hydraulic system for the thrust and rotation circuits increases the system efficiency, allowing better use of engine horsepower and increasing the D9x13 S3’s productivity. This new hydraulic system also improves the ground drive speed by 60 percent over its predecessor, allowing the drill to move to various jobsites more efficiently. Drilling speed has been improved with a 30 percent faster carriage speed than its predecessor, operating up to 188 ft per minute. Rotational speed is also increased to 190 rpm. An onboard pump delivers drilling fluid at 15 gpm at 750 psi. The D9x13 S3 is ergonomically designed for maximum operator comfort. Electronic joysticks ease operator fatigue and help improve efficiency. All S3 Navigator drills will have the new common control platform. This allows drill operators the ability to operate a variety of drills, and limits the time needed for training. For more information, visit www.vermeer.com.
Raising the Bar
Vacall Extends Its AllExcavate Line’s Value with a High-Dump Option
Innovation is reaching new heights — literally. Vacall’s innovative high-dump option has been introduced for its AllExcavate hydro excavation models. The option allows the operator to use a wireless remote control to raise the debris tank as much as 76 in. above ground level, and then shift the tank horizontally 21 in. beyond the rear bumper — a capability that’s unique in the industry. The option enables AllExcavate models to dump debris into roll-off containers, typically with an edge that’s 60 in. above ground level. The use of roll-off containers avoids the need to transport debris off-site. An optional splash shield that slants also helps avoid spills. The AllExcavate uses just one engine for mobility and to generate water flow at 10 to 25 gpm and pressures up to 3,000 psi. Used in combination with strong vacuum forces, the AllExcavate can loosen and then remove dirt, rocks and other material from around utility lines and foundations. In the oil and gas industry, AllExcavate models can perform efficient frac tank cleanout. Standard and optional debris bodies and water tanks are available with lifetime warranties, expanding the machine’s working life. The AllSmartFlow CAN bus intelligent control system is standard, monitoring water usage and minimizing downtime for water tank refills. For more information, visit www.vacallindustries.com.
Foundation Software Makes Timecard Management Easier with a New App Enhancement
In 2013, Foundation Software introduced an enhancement to FOUNDATION mobile, its mobile app that works with the company’s accounting software, FOUNDATION. This latest feature — Timecard Approval — is a part of FOUNDATION mobile’s Timecard Entry module, and helps to simplify the timecard approval process. This module helps contractors to streamline and simplify the way they enter time and job data from the field. With fast and convenient dropdown menus and default settings, contractors can stop worrying about tracking timecards manually and instead, focus on the job at hand. Entry is customizable, offering both single and group timecard options; plus, edits can be made directly in the app by employee, job or group. Proofing reports allow contractors a final checkpoint to ensure that all timecards are entered correctly before they send them. With the addition of the Timecard Approval feature, contractors using FOUNDATION mobile’s Timecard Entry module now have even greater opportunities to increase efficiency, improve accuracy and gain better control over their data. Once time is entered, project managers can instantly review and approve project labor hours entered from the field before submitting them back to the office. This saves the office staff time and allows contractors to gain instant access to real-time job cost data and reports, helping them to make better decisions while the job is running. For more information, visit www.foundationsoft.com.