Prior to 1992 the primary need for backyard machines was to change out of pad mount transformers from residential properties. Theirman was the only company manufacturing these units. The machine used counterweights to maintain its stability. Counterweights were also used on the pole to keep it stable while it was raised vertically. This was a difficult task due to limited access in residential areas where most transformers and poles were in fenced back yard areas. In 1991 an Indiana Michigan Power (IMP) employee crossed paths with a sewer jet machine that was designed and used to rod and view sewer lines. The employee made a suggestion to add a “boom” to the self-propelled sewer jet machine, making it ideal for backyard easement work. SDP Manufacturing engineered a boom and the very first full-fledged backyard machine. The machine was capable of setting pole and transformers in a backyard easement without the use of counterweights. A small-wheeled machine was manufactured with a small crane mounted to it named an EZ Hauler. The very first machine was sold to Southern Indiana Gas & Electric, now known as “Vectren”. As the EZ Haulers evolved, so did the need for auguring holes and setting utility poles for utility crews. The electrical utility industry required a machine that had the ability to move and change out pad mount transformers and place utility poles. The work required a machine that also was agile enough to fit through a standard 36” backyard gate and minimize damage to residential yards. The task was accomplished with using removable wheels to make the unit narrow enough to fit through the 36” gate opening. Stability to lift a utility pole was accomplished with fold out arms and screw type jacks. The Mini Digger Derrick increased utility crew’s efficiency greatly by reducing the amount of time needed on the job causing less damage while performing the job and performing the task much safer.
The Mini Digger Derrick evolved with the utility industry. Limited access areas were no longer seen as a challenge as the potential of these small machines became realized. The overall size of these machines increased as larger and taller utility poles were being used in limited access areas. Removable wheels evolved into hydraulically retracted tracks and manual outriggers evolved into hydraulically operated units. The Mini Digger Derrick has acquired nearly all the features and functions of a full-size truck mounted digger derrick, while being able to accomplish the original goal of fitting through a limited opening and limiting property damage. Need drives innovation and the Mini Digger Derrick has fulfilled a need and revolutionized utility industry practices.