Achieving operator safety while staying productive can prove to be a difficult challenge, but as technology paves the way, new products are leading to solutions. Dust and flying debris, nonstop loud noise, vibration, and continuous live traffic all cause safety hazards on a concrete patching job. A staple on all concrete patching projects, concrete dowel drills have evolved from their original design as slow, handheld equipment to hydraulic and pneumatic units. They are typically offered as chassis- and equipment-mounted models, designed to be much faster, more precise, and user friendly. Even with the improved design over handheld versions, safety and operator comfort is still an issue. Minnich Mfg., Mansfield, Ohio, introduced a wireless option that allows the operator to step off the drill and stand down in the grade, away from the noise and heat of the compressor and the noise and dust of the drill unit.

Its lightweight, wireless control box keeps the operator in better position to align the machine for the next hole locations while the unit is drilling. Don Weaver, vice president of Weaver-Bailey Contractors, El Paso, Ark., says, “The OSHA officials came down to a jobsite and watched the wireless unit drill. They were very impressed with the ability of the operator to move out of the dust.” Weaver-Bailey Contractors used the product on two jobs. The first, Little Rock Airport’s Runway 18 and Taxiway D, consisted of six strips 1000 feet long with 15-inch hole spacings and 12-inch-deep and 1 1/2-inch hole diameters. The second application was on the I-430 and 630 Interchange, which included a 3-mile stretch, down and back, drilling 3/4-inch holes, 15-inch deep on 30-inch centers. Weaver was impressed with the production of the wireless machine and believes it is a step forward in drilling technology.

Joey Sullivan, estimator and senior project manager for Salinas Construction, Mukilteo, Wash., feels the wireless drill is safer and much more comfortable for the drill operators, and it was an essential tool in completing three of his recent projects on time. The projects included the Taxi Lane Kilo North at the Snohomish County Airport; the Runway 16R-34L Rehabilitation at the Snohomish County Airport; and the US395–Columbia Drive to SR 240 Rebuild Interchange.

Combined, the three Salinas Construction projects consisted of 9200 drilled holes. “All three projects were on very tight schedules. The runway project had liquidated damages of $10,000/hour and we had to move fast. The drill played a big part in meeting the schedules,” says Sullivan.

Features of the wireless dowel drill unit enable the operator to simply walk with the machine as it drives and drills. In addition, the crab steering feature allows the operator to drive to the next hole location, position the drill unit, lower the bed, hit the crab steering lock, and drive down the slab as it automatically positions the wheels so the bed stays tight against the face of the slab. Another design improvement includes the use of magnetic sensors on the cylinders to tell the unit when the hole depth is achieved before it will retract or shut off the hammers.

Minnich Mfg. 800-524-1033.