When is it time for a trencher?

Trenchers have been around for decades since Vermeer customers began using them to install tile lines in farm fields in the 1950s. The purpose-driven machines can streamline a task that would take other tools more time to complete, and their applications have grown into just about every sector of industry that requires the opening of a trench in the ground, from light, loamy soil to heavy, hard rock formations.

Trenchers are far from one-size-fits-all machines. Today, Vermeer offers a full lineup of trenchers whose size and capabilities cover a broad range of applications. Despite this wide range of options, it’s critical to match the right-sized machine with the specific job at hand to maximize a trencher’s productivity on the jobsite, said Vermeer Applications Specialist Gregg Van Roekel.

The role of a trencher

It’s important to identify the role the trencher will have on the jobsite. Will it be replacing excavators that had previously done the trenching work? Find out how the trencher will fit with existing equipment and the efficiencies gained by adding it to a jobsite machinery lineup.

“Some say they understand a trencher’s application and agree it’s a more efficient way of doing the job, but it is still an investment,” Van Roekel said. “Once you explain that a trencher can complement existing machines and they can get more out of their other equipment with the addition of a trencher, it’s easier to see the value in taking it to a jobsite. We’re not here to replace a fleet of other equipment. We’re here to help make it better.”

The right size and power

Determining the right-sized trencher is a two-step process. First, what material will the machine be working in on the jobsite? Smaller, lower-horsepower machines are more effective with soil trenching, but as the relative hardness of the material increases, so do the demands on the machine. Trenching harder rock requires more weight and horsepower, and the right trencher will handle the application better.

“If you’re trenching with nice, black dirt in the Midwest, you don’t need as much power. If you’re working in south Texas where it’s solid rock, the conditions will be harder on the machine,” said Van Roekel. “You need to get the right-sized machine so they can perform in the application and optimize production.”

But, with power comes size. Higher-horsepower trenchers are larger in size, often so much the process of moving them from job to job can inhibit adding new work because of the time and cost of moving the machines. That makes it important to balance the size of the trencher’s performance with its physical size.

“Some operators want a big machine, but they want to be able to haul it around conveniently,” Van Roekel said. “You can’t really load a 260,000-pound (117,934 kg) machine at a jobsite in one truck load.”

Owning versus renting

How a trencher is owned is an important part of the equation when planning how one will be employed on a specific operator’s jobsites. If intended to be operated on a consistent basis, especially when the contractor owns and operates a larger fleet of equipment, outright ownership is more likely to fit into the company’s overall management. On the other hand, if a smaller company for which a trencher will be used more sporadically or only on select jobs, renting may be a more practical strategy, Van Roekel said.

“If it’s a large corporation that owns a trenching contractor or itself maintains more equipment, they may be more apt to buy a trencher to add to that fleet,” he said. “If it’s more of a general contractor who doesn’t have a trencher but needs one for a job, he or she will be more likely to rent from a dealer and turn it back in when the job is done.”

Looking for a trencher for your operation? Learn more about the Vermeer trencher lineup or contact your local dealer.


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