Tag: All-terrain Vehicles


Going Where Wheeled Vehicles Can’t

Whether they’re used in hauling materials up steep hills, when accessing remote locations to perform inspections and construction, or for ferrying emergency crews and materials through marshes and over creeks, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) play a small yet vital role in many utility fleets.

“As [distribution systems] continue to grow, it’s more important for utilities to be able to get into areas where wheeled vehicles can no longer access,” said Scott Merrill, vice president of PowerBully (www.powerbully.com). “There is a greater need for a lot of ground pressure tracked vehicles to carry attachments into a remote place.”

In addition to PowerBully, several other ATV suppliers have recently introduced new products and product upgrades to the market. Keep reading for more details.

Hydratrek Redesigns D2488B 
Amphibious vehicles typically are used for inspections and supply service through wetlands, but they’ve also seen more recent use in flooded areas after natural disasters, according to Craig Simonton, vice president of sales and marketing with Hydratrek (https://hydratrek.com). “They’re used for moving people and material up and down right-of-ways, and utilities tell us it’s the most versatile unit they have,” he said.

Hydratrek’s D2488B amphibious vehicle has been redesigned to include a more comfortable cab with bucket seats, larger pontoons for greater stability in water operations, lower decibel levels, improvements to maintenance and serviceability, and a complete operation and maintenance manual. New options include backup cameras, power inverters, auxiliary hydraulics and battery chargers.

The 24-inch rubber track system provides much lower ground pressure (psi) compared with nontracked vehicles, and utilities can haul a crew of two to eight people, supplies and tools. In the event of new-line construction, the D2488B can be used as a service vehicle for much larger pieces of equipment that cannot be brought in and out of the job site daily. Vegetation management also can be achieved with a 200-gallon spray system for herbicide applications. Two hydraulically driven propellers provide maneuverability while flowing in water. The unit features a diesel engine, hydrostatic drive and aluminum construction.

Morooka MST4500VDL Provides Long Reach
Morooka (www.morookacarriers.com) is marketing the MST4500VDL rubber track carrier, an ATV boasting a 350-horsepower diesel engine, 36-inch-wide tracks and a 23-ton maximum load capacity, enough power and platform to support a 125-foot reach.

The carrier is powered by a Cummins C9.3 Tier 4-compliant engine and features a heated and air-conditioned ROPS-certified cabin, backup camera, video information display, remote mirror and easy-to-use joystick control.

The unit comes from the factory with a ready-to-mount one-piece frame, eliminating the need for an installer to fabricate rear or front extensions, according to the company. It carries a one-year/1,000-hour warranty.

Faster Upfits With PowerBully 15T 
The 15T track carrier from PowerBully (www.powerbully.com), a subsidiary of Kässbohrer All Terrain Vehicles Inc., features the QuikMount chassis, which was designed to enable faster upfitting of cranes, digger derricks and personnel aerial devices. The QuikMount is compatible with all major attachment suppliers.

The PowerBully 15T is powered by the Tier 4-compliant Cummins QSB6.7-liter diesel engine. With its ratings of 275 horsepower and 730 pound-feet of torque, the QSB provides the power for both the track drive and work tools.

Constructed of high-strength steel with a 35,000-pound payload, the 15T is equipped with a custom-developed, ergonomically designed cabin; ease-of-use controls; high visibility; and improved sense of space. It also has multiple track options, including steel D-dent crosslinks for use in rocky terrain, steel flat bar for use in mixed dirt and rock, or polypads for use when minimal surface disturbance is required.

Track, Box Options Added to Prinoth Panther T16 
Prinoth (www.prinoth.com) has added new track options to its popular Panther T16 track vehicle. Customers can choose between metal embedded solid rubber tracks or the traditional D-dent track system. The rubber track option allows more versatility when crossing or traveling on roads.

The T16 also is now available with a dump box. The box will handle up to 11.5 cubic yards and carry up to 33,500 pounds of bulk material payload with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating of 75,000 pounds.

The undercarriage of the T16 was redesigned for the rubber track option to provide a sturdy undercarriage composed of five large wheels with both a tandem and a tridem suspension. The undercarriage features an automatic, hydraulically controlled track tensioning system.

An elevated engine position provides an optimal fording depth of up to 1,300 millimeters, enabling operators to travel through swamps, mud and any other type of difficult terrain.

Terramac Adds Support Equipment Option 
Terramac (www.terramac.com) has expanded the capability of the new, compact RT6 track carrier. The unit can now accommodate a variety of support equipment, including digger derricks, bark blowers, cranes, vacuum excavators, generators and tanks. Standard units are available with a flat bed, dump bed or rock dump bed.

The new RT6 features a compact footprint of 16 feet 2 inches by 8 feet 2 inches. It has a 12,000-pound carrying capacity and travel speeds up to 6.5 mph.

The unit is powered by the Tier 4-compliant, 130-horsepower QSB4.5 Cummins diesel engine.

The RT6’s fully loaded ground pressure is a minimal 5.4 psi, adaptable for loose and wet ground conditions where heavy, wheeled machines are likely to get stuck, according to Terramac. The flotation from the rubber tracks of the RT6 not only allows the machine to work in adverse ground and weather conditions, but it also allows for faster climbing on mountainous and hilly terrains with reduced slippage.

About the Author: Jim Galligan has been covering the commercial truck transportation sector for more than 30 years and has extensive experience covering the utility fleet market. In addition to writing and editing for magazines, his background also includes writing for daily newspapers, trade associations and corporations.


What’s New in All-Terrain Vehicles for Utility Fleets

All-terrain utility vehicles (UVs) enable utility crews to get work done in hard-to-reach areas where four-wheel-drive pickups and other conventional vehicles cannot go. And there are a wide range of capabilities available, with some models designed to haul people and heavy equipment across rugged and hilly terrain, while others are built with amphibious capabilities to cross deep waters in flooded lowlands.

So, what’s new in the UV market to help get your crews and equipment across various terrains with maximum safety and productivity? Here are six developments to keep your eye on.

What’s New: 2018 Conquest Series models
Website: www.argoxtv.com

Argo has unveiled the company’s 2018 Conquest Series commercial models with custom improvements that help boost worker productivity, no matter the terrain, weather or fleet application.

From the hydraulic rear-power dump box of the heavy-duty Conquest 8×8 XT-X to the Lineman package of the Conquest 8×8 XT-L, the new models equip utility workers to transport transformers, pull cables or bore footings to the most remote worksites – to make their jobs easier and get them home safe. 

Production of the new models has begun, and vehicles will soon be available in dealerships across North America and around the world.

Morooka USA
What’s New: Midsize rubber track carrier model MST700VD
Website: www.morookacarriers.com

Morooka USA has introduced the MST700VD, a midsize rubber track carrier that offers a 93-horsepower Kubota V3800 Tier 4i engine and maximum payload of 9,460 pounds, while maintaining a ground pressure of only 3.6 psi when empty.

The MST700VD also includes a rotational reverse seat that enhances operator safety and visibility, along with a canopy that is both ROPS and FOPS certified. The machine comes from the factory with a dump bed and a one-year, 1,000-hour warranty.

What’s New: Expanded track and configuration options for the Panther T16
Website: www.prinoth.com

Prinoth has announced new track and configuration options for its Panther T16 model. There is now a choice between metal embedded solid rubber tracks or the traditional D-dent track system. The rubber track option offers more versatility when crossing or traveling on roads while being gentler on shop floors when upfitting or maintaining the vehicle.                                                           

The company said that the new rubber track option for the Panther T16 offers the highest payload available on rubber tracks, with 33,500 pounds of bulk load material payload and a gross vehicle weight rating of 75,000 pounds.                                                          

What’s New: Upgrades to the D2488B model
Website: https://hydratrek.com   

Hydratrek has upgraded its amphibious D2488B, the company’s most popular model for the utility industry.

Some of the changes for 2017 include larger perimeter pontoons, which provide flotation in deep water, to improve machine performance. The front cab has been redesigned to offer more space for operator comfort. Dual bucket seats are now standard, and a new center console setup allows for GPS systems, backup cameras and charging docks. The rear rollover protection structure has been modified for easier access to the cargo bed and for more comfortable passenger seating. Standard hard tops over the cab and engine provide storage space for tools and gear. And the new muffler package and engine compartment insulation have reduced the decibels by 18 percent for quieter operation.

What’s New: Enhancements to the 12RT model
Website: www.powerbully.com 

PowerBully has developed new enhancements for its latest 12RT model, a high-payload rubber-tracked dumper that offers a light footprint for use on soft terrain and greater maneuverability when operating in tight areas.

The new features on the 12RT, introduced at CONEXPO 2017 in March, include Tier 4 Final emission technology; a 180-degree swivel dump; new driver’s cab with integrated rollover protection system; and a cockpit – seat, steering console and controls – that rotates 180 degrees to the rear of the machine for greater visibility of the load.

What’s New: RT6 model
Website: www.terramac.com

Terramac has introduced its newest rubber track carrier model, the RT6, joining the company’s product lineup that includes the larger RT9 and RT14 models. The compact size of the RT6 allows it to be easily loaded onto a tag trailer and hauled by line trucks from job site to job site.

This unit features a compact footprint of 16 feet 2 inches by 8 feet 2 inches, minimizing disturbance on the soil while providing reduced slippage to climb faster on rugged or steep terrain to reach utility job sites in remote areas.

The RT6 offers a 12,000-pound carrying capacity and travel speeds up to 6.5 mph. And it accommodates a wide range of support equipment for utility applications, including lineman winches, digger derricks, vacuum excavators, boom lifts and aerial buckets for utility applications.


Spec’ing All-Terrain Utility Vehicles for Maximum Safety

All-terrain utility vehicles (UVs) are machines used by utility fleets to transport people, materials and equipment across potentially hazardous off-road environments to inspect or repair power lines or perform other tasks in remote areas. These vehicles go where four-wheel-drive pickups cannot, navigating steep slopes, trudging through heavy brush, hovering over swamplands or even floating and powering across creeks and rivers, depending on the make and model of the UV.

If the UV is not designed for the ground conditions of a particular job, you risk having crews stranded in a hard-to-reach area or, worse, injured from a rollover, debris falling onto the cab or unsecured cargo flying into the cab.

So, how should you spec your next UV to ensure the maximum safety of your crews in off-road environments? Keep these five points in mind.

1. Terrain
What type of terrains will this UV need to handle? What degree of slopes? Will it encounter marshes or swamps? What about deep water? These questions are fundamental to selecting the right machine for the job and ensuring the safety of your crews.

Take, for example, UVs that use track systems instead of wheels. The type of terrain directly impacts the track size you should select.

Craig Simonton, director of sales operations for Hydratrek Inc. (www.hydratrek.com), a manufacturer of amphibious UVs, said the standard track on the company’s smaller machines, such as the XT66 model, is 16 inches. But if the UV is expected to operate primarily in swamp and wetland conditions, he recommended that fleet managers spec the larger 20-inch track to further reduce ground pressure, so that the machine can essentially hover on top of the muddy surface and avoid getting bogged down.

When it comes to ground pressure, the principle at work is this: The wider the UV’s track, the lighter the machine’s overall footprint because its weight is spread across a larger surface area.

“Track size can be the difference of successfully getting out to the job site or not,” Simonton said. “If you don’t have a light footprint on marsh, swamps and wetlands, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get stuck. Then you have to deploy more people and equipment to try to recover the vehicle.”

Slope angles are also important to factor into your specification, including sidehill, uphill/downhill, approach and departure angles to prevent rollover risk. For example, the Prinoth Panther series tracked vehicle allows for a maximum sidehill slope of 40 percent (22 degrees) and incline/decline of 60 percent (31 degrees).

But how can you ensure that your crews operate the machine within the manufacturer’s allowable parameters? Bill York, sales manager for Prinoth LLC (www.prinoth.com), recommended adding an inclinometer to the machine’s specifications. “With the inclinometer, if the machine exceeds the maximum percent or degree of slope, then an alarm goes off and the operator can adjust course to take a safer route.”

2. Speed
This is primarily a consideration for spec’ing UVs with wheels, which are inherently faster than tracked vehicles that are designed to operate at relatively low speeds between 6 mph and 14 mph.

If you need to ensure that drivers operate the UV within a certain speed, Jim Blaze, national accounts manager for Polaris Industries (www.polaris.com), advised that fleet managers should consider a speed-limiting option that caps speed at 25 mph.

Blaze also recommended three-point safety harnesses in higher-speed UVs, instead of lap belts. “[Polaris] puts shock absorbers on safety harnesses because, in remote areas, where the ride can get real bouncy at higher speeds, the shock absorbers can help protect you from dislocating your shoulders.”

3. Visibility
“It’s important to get as close to 360-degree visibility as possible,” York said. “Sometimes that can be done by using mirrors. But often, when you have equipment [such as a digger derrick] mounted on the machine, the mirrors aren’t enough because the equipment gets in the way.”

One solution is to add cameras, York said. “I’ve seen vehicles built with as many as four cameras on them for all directions. And the cameras feed into a single screen in the cab, giving the operator maximum visibility to navigate the vehicle around hazardous conditions.”

Lighting is also an important consideration. “There are quite a few work area light and warning beacon options you should consider,” York said. “But at a minimum, you want good forward and backward lighting because if you can’t clearly see your surroundings at night, that can create a problem.”

With smaller, higher-speed wheeled UVs, Blaze suggested adding a windshield, either made out of polycarbonate – the less expensive option – or safety glass.

“If you’re going 25 mph across 30 miles of terrain, and the wind is blowing on your face the entire time, it would make sense to put a windshield up front,” he said.

When would you choose safety glass over the polycarbonate windshield?

“One example is if you’re running the machine around nuclear plants or power distribution centers for security purposes,” Blaze said. “In that application, you would want maximum visibility, especially in inclement weather. And that requires windshield wipers, which work well with the glass windshield but would scratch the polycarbonate. So, in that instance, you would choose the glass.”

4. Cab Protection
You expect crews to avoid rollover situations. But if the UV happens to tip over, is the cab strong enough to protect your people? That’s where rollover protective structure (ROPS) certification comes into play.

“Make sure the cab is ROPS certified to the highest standard in the world – ISO 3471,” York advised.

For higher-speed UV applications, Blaze recommended adding a “headache rack,” which is essentially a mesh system installed at the rear of the cab to keep cargo from sliding forward and injuring the crew.

5. Onboard Safety Equipment
These are the options you hope you don’t have to use, but they’re available just in case.

“You want to make sure that when operators go onto various terrains, that they have a way out,” York said. “If they go into a swamp, how are they going to get out? What is the backup plan if they can’t? Think this through. Do they have survival gear with them?”

Some of the gear to consider includes an onboard fire extinguisher, life vests for amphibious UVs and a recovery winch.

“Because of the nature of the vehicle, having a winch is very important,” Simonton said. “Sometimes the farther you can go, the tougher the environment gets, and you can get stuck. It’s always best to ensure your utility vehicle is equipped with a winch so you have the ability to get out of tough situations when you need it.”

The Bottom Line
When crews are sent to do a job in an all-terrain UV, they know that they’ll likely encounter hazardous conditions. So, equip them with a machine that gives them confidence and peace of mind that they can do their job with maximum safety and productivity.

Trooper PJH6094-Web

What to Consider When Selecting All-Terrain Vehicles for Utility Applications

All-terrain utility vehicles (ATVs) are built to go where four-wheel-drive pickups and other conventional vehicles cannot, whether on steep hills, through soft mud or over water, to transport workers, supplies, and tools to remote areas for servicing and repairing power lines and other equipment along the right-of-way.

But when it comes to ATVs, one size does not fit all applications. Some are designed primarily as people movers that may also carry light cargo, while others can haul more than 40,000 pounds with heavy equipment, such as aerial lifts or cranes, mounted on them. Then there are ATVs capable of negotiating the steepest of hills in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and others that offer amphibious capabilities to cross deep waters in flooded lowlands.

With a vast range of shapes, sizes and capabilities to choose from, what should utility fleet managers consider to select the right ATV for the job? Here are six questions to help guide the process.

1. What’s the ATV’s job description?
“If [the ATV’s] job is to be a survey vehicle – to carry a two-person crew to inspect, say, a five-mile stretch of power line to make sure everything is up and running properly – we’ll likely recommend [a smaller-model ATV],” said Craig Simonton, sales and marketing, Hydratrek Inc. (www.hydratrek.com). “But if you have a lot of upcoming new projects with building new power lines, requiring large crews and heavier equipment, we’ll point them toward a bigger vehicle so they can haul more material and more people in one trip.”

2. What’s the maximum number of people the vehicle will carry at one time?
The Hydratrek model D2488B, for example, can be configured to carry three to as many as nine passengers on the same size vehicle, depending on how much cargo space is required. The key is to strike the right balance between seating capacity and cargo area to achieve optimal productivity.

3. What are the payload requirements?
“Fleet managers have to take stock of everything they intend the vehicle to carry,” advised Bill York, utility vehicle sales, Prinoth LLC (www.prinoth.com). “If the machine is going to haul a digger derrick, crane or aerial unit, it makes sense to involve the heavy equipment upfitter who can help you determine precisely how much payload is required. This way, all parties [ATV manufacturer, equipment upfitter and fleet manager] can put their brains together to come up with the best fit.”

But also remember the little things that can add up. “Perhaps the fleet plans to mount a digger derrick that could fit on a 16,000-pound-capacity [ATV], but they also want to haul 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of extra gear that exceed the capabilities of the 16,000-pound carrier. In that case, you need to go one size up to a larger machine,” York said.

4. What type of terrain will the ATV be used on?
“If it’s hilly terrain, how steep of an incline can the machine safely navigate up and down? And what about sidehill capabilities – what degree or percent grade can the machine handle moving across the side of the slope? Every machine has different ratings for this,” York said.

Then there’s water. If the vehicle must operate in floodplains or other areas where water could be an issue, is it equipped to handle those types of conditions? Some ATVs can drive through a certain depth of water, almost fully submerged, so determine what that capability is for the vehicle you’re evaluating to ensure it’s sufficient for the job. There are also ATVs that offer amphibious capabilities, which can float, using a rear propeller system, to cross deep-water areas.

Additionally, keep in mind the vehicle’s ground pressure in terms of pounds per square inch (psi), especially in soft ground and environmentally sensitive areas along right-of-ways.

“This is one of the advantages of a rubber track system [versus wheels],” Simonton said. “Tracks are very important to keeping your footprint very light, which essentially helps the vehicle ‘float’ on top of mud, on top of wetlands, and keeps the vehicle from tearing up the ground in environmentally sensitive areas.”

But a light footprint doesn’t necessarily mean a light vehicle. York offers this frame of reference: “The average human male puts down 8 psi. Yet our biggest machine, fully loaded, weighing around 82,000 pounds, only puts down about 4 psi in ground pressure. So these vehicles can go places where we can’t even walk over without sinking. This is because of the vehicle’s weight distribution, based on the design of the length and width of the track.”

5. Have you accounted for safety?
“Make sure the vehicles are [rollover protection system] certified to the highest standards to protect workers,” said Jim Blaze, national accounts manager, Polaris Industries (www.polaris.com).

Blaze also advised that fleet managers consider safety harnesses. “[Polaris] puts shock absorbers on safety harnesses because, in remote areas, where the ride can get real bouncy, the shock absorbers can help protect you from dislocating your shoulders.”

Side cab protection is important as well, Blaze said. “Consider a netting system to keep arms and legs inside the vehicle. In some cases, companies might order hard caps, which are like automotive doors for extra protection.”

6. How responsive is the manufacturer’s support network?
“Is there 24/7 availability for technical support? How easy is it to get parts? How far, how fast is that company willing to send people to help you if you have a machine break down in the field?” York posed. “Especially with large utilities, if a power line or transmission line is down, the amount of money being wasted is staggering, sometimes approaching as much as $100,000 per minute. And if [the all-terrain vehicle] that’s needed to help repair the line is also broken down, that creates a huge issue. So the key is how fast can you get that vehicle up and running? How fast can the [ATV manufacturer] get a tech out there to help you? These are the things that need to be considered up front. And the bigger your area and the more diverse the terrain, the more important manufacturer support becomes.”

About the Author: Sean M. Lyden is a nationally recognized journalist and feature writer for a wide range of automotive and trucking trade publications, covering fleet management strategies, light- and medium-duty trucks, truck bodies and equipment, and green fuel technologies. He blogs at Strategy + Writing (www.seanmlyden.com).

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