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Vermeer’s new directional drills: speed, simplicity and sound

Operators have a lot to consider when conducting HDD work to make sure that a job progresses smoothly and with little disruption. Vermeer has been listening to its users and taken these concerns into account during the design and production of its new S3 series of HDD machines.

Vermeer’s S3 Navigator® horizontal directional drilling (HDD) product line has been designed with three key criteria in mind: increased speed for efficient operations, a simple design to reduce the learning curve for new users and reduced noise for jobs in sound sensitive environments.

The development of the S3 product line, which ranges from 9,072 to 99,790 kg class rigs, came about after extensive consultation with end users who identified three key considerations for drilling on modern job sites.

“Vermeer Corporation invested a lot of time with our customers to understand the things that really matter to operators and owners,” says Vermeer National Construction Sales Manager Jeff Lawson.

“They distilled the feedback received into the three elements that define the Vermeer S3 drill range: speed, simplicity and sound.”

Speed, simplicity and sound

A number of features have been introduced in the new range to meet the criteria for the new series. The S3 drills feature increased tracking, spindle and carriage speed, meaning contractors can get to the job quicker and get more product in the ground sooner.

The dual joystick control system.

The D24x40 S3, for example, has a carriage speed of 73.1 m/min – over 20 per cent faster than other machines on the market – and features a 270 r/m rotational speed that is approximately 18 per cent faster than other drills in the same class.

A dual joystick control system, previously utilised on Vermeer’s larger Navigator Series II drills, is now common across the S3 drill range, enabling a better user experience and less time spent getting operators up to speed.

All drill functions can be performed without the operator taking their hands off the joysticks, even rod loading on models equipped with automatic rod loaders, with communication of key information simplified by common display interfaces across the range.

The entire S3 drill range features a significant decrease in sound levels; the D23x30 S3 offers a sound reduction of more than 25 per cent when compared to its predecessor, reducing the impact of drill operations in neighbourhoods and other noise sensitive job sites.

“Every 10 decibels you drop equates to the volume being halved, so we’re talking a significant reduction in noise that makes for easier job site communications and less disturbance to others,” says Mr Lawson.

Technical features

The S3 drill range marks the widespread adoption of several significant technical features that have a positive impact on operators and business owners.

The DigiTrak® Aurora™ interactive full-colour touchscreen display is a standard feature for Australian-delivered S3 drills. It delivers real-time, easy-to-view location information and digital bore plans, and can be used in conjunction with Vermeer productivity tools.

The use of a CAN-BUS electrical network simplifies wiring to reduce the drill’s vulnerability to wear and damage of the electrical system. The CAN-BUS system also requires less wiring than traditional electrical systems, with additional benefits like the easier diagnosis of faults.

The S3 machines use encoders for the accurate measurement of key data for drills that operate under harsh conditions – such as rack position and speed – in place of the proximity switches traditionally used for this function. By using these encoders, rod changing becomes a more precise and timely operation.

The S3 drills can be equipped with a radio remote control that enables tracking and setup of the drill from convenient locations. This means increased safety when loading, unloading and tracking of the drill in hazardous areas such as busy roadside verges, or slippery loading ramps.

The remote control gives the operator their choice of perspective when manoeuvring in challenging conditions for greater safety and drill setup can become a one person job, enabling more efficient use of team members.

When compared to its predecessors, the S3 range has a greater performance to machine footprint. The D10x15S3, for example, benefits from an almost 50 per cent increase in tractive-effort-to-weight ratio over its predecessor.

This enables improved tracking in tough conditions and greater manoeuvrability when fine-tuning setup and trailer positioning. Its small footprint allows the drill to easily manoeuvre within narrow jobsites and position side-by-side with a mixing system on a trailer.

Finally, positive loading on rack gears ensures optimum engagement of the rack and pinion teeth to significantly reduce gear and rack wear, reducing maintenance costs to machine owners.

This article was featured in the September edition of Trenchless Australasia. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet, or mobile device, click here.

For more information visit the Vermeer website.

If you have a project you would like featured in Trenchless Australasia contact Managing Editor Nick Lovering at

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