UCon @ ICUEE: Day 1

Vermeer, Ditch Witch, Paladin and McLaughlin--and rain
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Underground Construction editor Robert Carpenter on Vermeer's RTX 550 with TrenchSense.

Day 1 of ICUEE 2009 had some cold, wet weather and some hot new product launches. What’s new with Vermeer, Ditch Witch, McLaughlin, Paladin and more, plus photos and updates from the ground in Louisville, KY.

Vermeer was the first stop of the day for the UCon @ ICUEE blogger at large, and plenty of bright yellow new tech is on display. The big news is a new high-precision drilling system, which inventor Stuart Harrison says uses a laser guidance system to put a pipe in the ground so precisely there’s no earth disruption, no drilling fluid is necessary, and one team brought a bore 150 feet horizontally under a busy intersection into a precut hole in a manhole wall barely bigger than the pipe itself.
Stuart Harrison explains the drilling system he invented.
The system is compatible with PVC and several other kinds of pipe and boasts a hex drive that allows the operator to change the direction of the rotation midbore. The first unit sold to Avertex Utility Solutions this morning.

Next up was the TrenchSense electronic control system, which monitors engine RPM and trencher chain operation and adjusts automatically to correct for rocky ground or ease a service run in a residential neighborhood with buried hazards. The system is in production for the RTX 550 and coming soon on the RTX 750.

Vermeer is also spotlighting renewable energy options, including a cable layer attachment that will increase conductivity of lines laid through wind farms by keeping cables together, and a grouting system keyed to geothermal energy projects.

Ditch Witch was next on the agenda, just in time for the first bout of chilly rain to strike the Kentucky Fairgrounds. That ensured a good turnout in the Ditch Witch tent, where a Talon drill bit was demonstrated on a four-inch-thick block of rock.
Inside the Ditch Witch tent at ICUEE 5/10/2009
Ditch Witch has new products in mini excavators, rock drills and track trenchers coming out by January 2010. They’ve also just released the MT45 “microtrencher,” introduced last week. Ditch Witch is also twittering: check them out at http://twitter.com/ditchwitch. Follow Underground Construction on Twitter while you’re at it: http://twitter.com/UConOnline.