Using common controls on horizontal directional drills (HDD) isn’t necessarily common practice in the industry. But there are some significant advantages to using them. Read on to learn more.
If you’ve been around HDDs in the last decade, you’ve likely read about, heard of or experienced the advantage of the HDD common controls found throughout the Vermeer drill line. It’s true that if you get behind the controls of the smallest Vermeer D8x12 utility HDD, the Vermeer D220x500 S3 maxi rig, or any drill in between, you’ll find their controls very similar to each other. This is designed to ease operator training and help HDD crews stay productive on the job no matter what Vermeer HDD they are running that day. But there are several other advantages that Vermeer HDD common controls provide, too.
To understand those advantages, you must first take a moment to understand the technology behind Vermeer HDD common controls.
CAN bus HDD common controls
The technology that makes Vermeer HDD common controls possible is the drills’ controller area network communication system, commonly called the “CAN bus” system. All the drill’s functionality is connected to the operator station’s joystick controls through a network of wires. As the operator tells the drill what to do, that information is relayed to the machine’s moving parts involved with each operation. The CAN bus system coordinates the machine functionality with minimal input from the operator.
CAN bus technology is a significant upgrade compared to early generations of HDDs that used switches to control individual machine functionality because it helps to ease drill operations and machine serviceability. It is also expandable.
Common controls operations
Have you sat behind the controls of an older drill or one manufactured by a company not fully invested in CAN bus controls? There can be a ton of switches involved with drilling operations. Each one of those switches does something different during the drilling process, and the operator needs to understand the proper sequence for smooth drilling. It’s not easy or quick to learn. And, in some manufacturer lines, you may even find that each model has a different control setup, which can complicate operations even further.
When Vermeer invested in developing CAN bus HDD common controls with its early Vermeer Series II Navigator® HDD models, the decision wasn’t just about what was best on that drill today. The decision was about what would be best for contractors’ drill fleets today and into the future.
Vermeer HDD common controls help minimize operators’ learning curve when moving to a new machine. That, in turn, can give superintendents greater flexibility with their crews.
Also, the operator can do pretty much everything without taking his or her hands off the joysticks, which maximizes operator comfort by minimizing repetitive motions.
CAN bus controls serviceability
Another significant benefit to Vermeer HDD common controls is the reduction in the amount of machine wiring. Machines that use rocker switches require multiple wires run to each rocker switch, which is then connected to the component that controls the functionality. With the large number of wires involved, it can be a challenge to troubleshoot if there is a wiring issue. Also, more wires mean larger and more wire harnesses.
Using a CAN bus system on Vermeer drills with common controls reduces the number of wires and the thickness of the wire harnesses. In fact, more recent Vermeer HDD models have 30% fewer wires than the models without a CAN bus system. Also, since the wires on a CAN bus system are used to transport information instead of just functionality, it can be more efficient to troubleshoot potential issues compared with drills using rocker switches.
Intelligent common controls
HDD common controls powered by a CAN bus system also maximize drill functionality and the incorporation of telematics. Functions like AutoSteer are efficient because of the CAN bus systems. Also, more data about the machine and its functionality can be collected for a higher level of telematics information. Tracking rod-by-rod information and diagnostic information is possible because of the common controls technology found on Vermeer HDDs.
Also, intelligent common controls aren’t just found on Vermeer drills either. Machines like the Vermeer RTX1250i2 ride-on utility tractor use the same technology to optimize the performance of attachments. The CAN bus system allows attachments to communicate with the tractor so control functionality can be adjusted for whatever attachment is connected.
Building for the future
With over a decade of experience building equipment using CAN bus systems, common controls aren’t something new for Vermeer. However, this technology is helping Vermeer continue to add new technology and functionality to its HDD product line.
If you have more questions about Vermeer HDD common controls, contact your local Vermeer dealer.
Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.
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