Compact Equipment

SEP 2018

Compact Equipment is a magazine dedicated to equipment owners and operators of small, nimble, tool-carrying construction, landscape and ag equipment — such as skid steers, mini excavators, compact tractors, generators compressors and beyond.

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Page 38 of 55

tion. "When you're trenching," notes Toro's Borenstein, "you are going forward but using an attachment behind you. An operator can swivel a little to see what he has done and swivel back to see where he's going." During the last decade when multi-tiered emissions regulations were mandated, computer controls became pervasive on diesel engines. Their proliferation ushered in other technical changes. "When you put in those en- gines with computer-controlled emissions," Borenstein says, "it opened up possibilities for controlling things differently." Things like a cruise control system on the Ditch Witch RT125 Quad that lets the trencher automatically slow or quicken its forward movement according to the resis- tance of the material it's slicing through. Or Vermeer's Auto Plunge system that regulates downward pressure on a chain bar when it's being introduced to the ground, extending the life of the digging teeth, and its Trench Sense system that automatically reverses movement and its digging chain when the in-the-ground implement encounters a rock or root. "It takes the human interface and errors out of it," is how Vermeer's Savage describes automation. Toro attacks unseen underground obstacles by combin- ing old and new technology in a unique trenching drive system it calls HD PowerTrench. The system utilizes a fly- wheel that mechanically gives a chain more momentum, a torsion bar that absorbs the shock of striking unseen hazards and a set of planetary gears that adds torque to the hydrostatic drive. "It's a little more expensive, so oth- er manufacturers don't use it," Borenstein says. "And it separates us from the others. Once customers operate it, they really appreciate that power." Driverless operation has not arrived in trenchers, but remote-controlled units are becoming more common. Vermeer offers remote controls across the range of its machines. "We are getting more and more requests for remote control," says Savage. "You can load or unload from a trailer without riding on the trencher, so safety is a factor. The other thing is, people like to see the entire trenching operation. With remote control, an operator can stand where he has room to see. Those two things make remote control very popular." So what's coming next for ride-on trenchers? Mum's the word from the product managers, though Thomp- son says he "won't be surprised if there is something on the horizon that will take over the RT125." Till then, he believes the "real differentiator among the compet- ing models is dealer support. You can have the best product in the world, but if you don't have the support to back it up…" Giles Lambertson is a freelance writer for Compact Equipment . Ditch Witch has seven walk-behind units (the C12X pictured), one stand-on unit, six seated-operator rubber-tired units, three seated quad-track models and a couple of micro machines. MARKET STRATEGIES How many models of trencher/plows does a manu- facturer really need to cover the market? After looking at three competing lineups, the answer is not obvious. Ditch Witch, which invented the industry, offers mod- els ranging in engine size from 12 to 121 hp. It has seven walk-behind units, one stand-on unit, six seat- ed-operator rubber-tired units, three seated quad-track models and a couple of micro machines. Vermeer's lineup is slightly smaller. The manufacturer has just 11 models including "pedestrian" (walk-behind) and walk-beside units, rubber-tire and rubber-track models, a steel-track-only unit and a remote-controlled vibra- tory plow. Toro's showroom is less crowded, comparatively speaking. It offers three walk-behind trenchers, a rub- ber-tired riding trencher, a quad-track trencher and an articulated rubber-tired model dedicated to vibratory plowing — six in all. Chris Thompson, Ditch Witch compact equipment product manager, was asked if 19 models of trencher-plows verged on too many. "We try hard to cover the whole market, and that's why we have the range," he says. "The newest, the RT125, came from listening to the market and seeing what needs to be out there. Will we need a bigger one than the 125? We're watching the market." 39

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