Contractor finds machine easy to use and able to fit into tight spaces
Since Seth Dixon founded his business, SRD Excavation/Construction, in 2013, erratic cash flow and lack of credit forced him to lease much of his equipment. As such, when he actually did buy new equipment — like the company’s 2017 Vermeer D10 x 15 horizontal directional-drilling (HDD) unit — he put a lot of thought into it to be sure it was a prudent investment.
“A lot of services we provide lean on directional drilling,” Dixon explains. “In fact, we rely on HDD so heavily that we decided to invest in a new machine. I was nervous at first. This was a big step for us, especially at a cost of about $140,000.
“But we knew demand for HDD would be even higher this year, so we decided to do it. The customer-satisfaction rate with this machine is much higher, so we use it as much as possible. It’s a giant payment for us, but in terms of return on investment, it’s working out great.”
Dixon sought power, reliability and productivity and found all three in the Vermeer D10 x 15. The unit delivers 10,000 pounds of thrust/pullback force; 1,500 foot pounds of rotational torque; and a maximum spindle speed of 180 rpm. The latter provides better mud flow in softer or reactive ground conditions.
The machine also features a top speed of 3.3 mph, quieter operation than previous models and a compact 44-inch width and 6-foot length, which makes it very maneuverable on narrow job sites. Dixon says that after a demonstration between the Vermeer and a competitor’s unit, he let employees vote on which machine to buy – and the Vermeer won, hand’s down.
“They just like the way it drills and steers, and its capabilities,” he says. “They also really like the remote control, which lets you drive the machine almost like an RC car. There’s no blind side anymore when you can get off the machine and run it.”
“We’ve gotten into some really hard rock and haven’t had any problems,” Dixon says. As an example, he cites a recent project: a fairly short, 300-foot bore under a state highway that was complicated by a 50-foot-thick section of solid rock in the middle of the bore. “The drill head was almost gone by the time we broke through, but we did it,” he says. “That was good, because there was no other option available other than directional drilling.”
Dixon also lauds the units Falcon F1 operating controls, made by Digital Control Inc. (DCI). “It works almost like a video game,” he notes. “The operator sets the locator down and the control panel shows a little box that he aims for while drilling.”