Aptella and Vermeer Australia join forces to create semi-autonomous pile driving solution for Australian solar farms


A combination of Carlson machine guidance, the Vermeer PD10 pile driver machine and technical support.

A combination of Carlson machine guidance, the Vermeer PD10 pile driver machine and technical support promises increased productivity for the Australian solar industry.  

Intelligent positioning solutions provider Aptella has teamed up with heavy machinery manufacturer Vermeer Australia, to streamline pile driving applications in the solar industry.

The amount of posts required for a solar farm varies greatly, from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand. Traditional methods are labour intensive with potential for human error, as they involve a surveyor manually staking out each pile location, along with continuous stringline installation to guide the machine operator. If any pile is a little off its desired location, the racking system that is used to house the solar panels may not fit.

By eliminating the need for manual stakeout and stringlines, the new semi-autonomous solution not only speeds up the process, it also guarantees greater accuracy and improved safety, by removing the need for people to work close to the pile driving machine.

“Depending on the project, we estimate that contractors save between eight to ten dollars for every pile they drive,” said Andrew Granger, Aptella Business Manager for Mining, Solar and Landfill. “On a small solar farm where every dollar counts that’s a good saving, and on a large-scale farm the savings are significant,” he added.

Carlson machine guidance includes a variety of sensors fitted to the machine, along with a precision GPS unit and a control box that gives the operator real-time information about location, depth and angle of each pile. With all the information required on screen, the solution eliminates the need to manually stake out the piles altogether.

When combined with Vermeer’s PD10 piling system, the benefits of Carlson’s machine guidance are further increased. Vermeer opened up the machine’s CANBUS system to allow for greater communication between the machine and the guidance technology, creating a semi-autonomous solution that reduces the risk of human error even more.

“We’ve been working with Carlson’s Australian distributor, Aptella, for some months on this solution, with great success,” said Jeff Lawson, National Construction Sales Manager at Vermeer Australia. “Vermeer’s most advanced pile driving machine, combined with Carlson’s machine guidance and our combined technical support capabilities enables us to offer a winning combination for Australian contractors.”

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