What to consider before buying a new drill

June 17, 2021 -  By

When it comes to purchasing and using drills, there are several items landscape professionals should consider.

Several drills on the market only require one operator, helping save on man-hours. (Photo: Little Beaver)

Several drills on the market only require one operator, helping save on man-hours. (Photo: Little Beaver)

“Landscapers should keep in mind that a drill is an investment in their business, not just an expense,” says Mike Hale, sales manager at Little Beaver. “Some drills may have appealing price tags, but repairs, breakdowns, injuries and increased labor needs can lead to costs much greater than that spent on a quality drill.”

Hale and Cory Maker, H80 product manager at Ditch Witch, dig into what landscape professionals should consider when using and purchasing drills.

Save on labor

Because finding and keeping good labor is an ongoing theme in the green industry, it’s important to find a drill offering that can help cut down on man-hours.

Maker notes that directional drilling can help landscape companies become more efficient. Directional drilling is a minimal impact trenchless method of installing underground items such as utilities and irrigation along a prescribed path using a surface-launched drilling rig. Therefore, Maker says, directional drilling can be a less invasive method to reach and adjust underground components.

“You’re not having to open cut holes in someone’s yard or place of business. It works well in roads and sidewalks because they’re not having to tear any of that up,” Maker says. “For time and money savings, you’re also not having to go back and fix anything that you’ve damaged. You essentially just have an entry pit and an exit pit.”

He notes that the directional drilling options Ditch Witch offers for landscape professionals include the JT-5 and JT-10 directional drills.

“For design/build professionals, it’s specialized for our market,” Maker says. “A lot of the technology helps with the overall accuracy versus having a laid-out plan of where the other underground utilities are and having to work around those.”

Other offerings to help with efficiency, Hale says, include earth drills built to be controlled by one person. The drills can help landscape pros with multiple digging and drilling applications, including fencing and sign installation, landscaping and soil sampling.

“The earth drills optimize speed and torque for maximum productivity in a safe, one-person earth drill, offering landscapers enhanced versatility and the ability to take on more jobs with less labor,” Hale says. “These drills cut out the need for two-man drilling. This allows crews to take on more jobs and/or complete jobs faster because their labor goes further without a decrease in performance.”

Hale notes that Little Beaver’s hydraulic earth drills, mechanical drills and towable and untowable drills all help to optimize the labor that a company does have.

The hydraulic and mechanical drills feature a torque tube design, eliminating kickback by transferring the torque back to the engine carrier. The mechanical drills operate at 360 rpm for high-speed auger rotations and are ideal for projects requiring several narrow holes, such as installing fences and planting decorative shrubs, according to Hale.

The towable and untowable designs employ a counterbalance design and larger tires to allow for better ergonomics and easy maneuvering in tasks like planting trees or accessing tight spaces. Additionally, the towable machine can be pulled by a vehicle by installing the tow bar and attaching the unit to any 2-inch ball, while the untowable version can be connected to the receiver hitch of a truck or SUV, saving valuable bed space.

Wheels added to a drill make it more maneuverable with better access in tight spaces. (Photo: Little Beaver)

Wheels added to a drill make it more maneuverable with better access in tight spaces. (Photo: Little Beaver)

What to keep in mind

Hale suggests contractors research the drill options before making any purchasing decisions.

“Landscapers should consider the opportunity to take on unique jobs or challenging locations and the versatility options of their drill,” Hale says.

Hale notes that when considering high torque and drilling speeds, purchasing original manufacturer parts can help ensure an ideal fit and wear life.

Maker adds that landscape pros should be aware of the overall spec profile of what they’re working with, including the length, the size of drill shots, the overall distance they’ll be drilling and the footprint of the machine as a whole.

He adds that landscape companies should be prepared to train their employees on how to use the drills, as they’re typically more complicated than the average piece of landscaping equipment.

“The biggest thing is the overall learning process and training that goes along with it,” Maker says. “It’s unlike a piece of rental equipment you would get from a rental yard. This is more specialized and requires background information on what you’re doing, including locating and tracking all the way down to the drilling functions.”

This article is tagged with , and posted in Design/Build+Installation, From the Magazine, June 2021
Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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