A story of innovation – Fencequip Post Drivers

The business of fencing is well and truly in the blood of Troy Knudsen, owner and creator of Fencequip Post Drivers. Based in Helensville, north-west of Auckland, the business is 100% Kiwi-owned and operated and is constantly innovating for improved fencing efficiencies.

Having been around farming and fencing for most of his life, Troy grew up around the family business of post driver manufacturing before heading off to work for a fencing contractor for several years after the family business sold.

 Troy showing James and Ed the movement of their new HD Post Driver

During his many hours of fencing, Troy often pondered ways of making the post drivers he used even better – ‘more angle, more user friendly, and how they could be built to last longer’.

During downtime due to back surgery, he decided to pursue his passion and set about designing the Fencequip HD post driver. Having spent several years in the field (literally), Troy amassed plenty of first-hand experience within the fencing industry, and this experience helped him see things from the customers’ perspective, providing plenty of drive to continuously innovate his products.

Troy Knudsen with the Contractor HD post driver

Of key importance to the Fencequip brand is the fact that Troy’s auger design uses Hardox steel, which he reckons results in a wear-life increase of 800% in comparison to mild steel, when working in hard ground.

Designing and building better augers

Custom augers available in right- and left-hand pitch

Having been designing, building, and selling his own brand of post drivers under the Fencequip banner for the past three-and-a-half years, Troy says that in the end, it came down to necessity to also start building his own augers. “We heard customer frustrations around augers not lasting as long as they’d like, so I set about designing and building a better solution,” says Troy.

Standard augers in the market are generally manufactured in bulk overseas and made from mild steel. “Some of our customers were only getting one week’s work out of them before they had to be welded up.

I came up with an idea to make them double-sided to get twice the life span but realised that even this only doubled its lifespan, meaning those augers made of mild steel still only lasted two weeks when working in rocky ground,” he says.

After researching whether the augers could be made from a different material, Troy discovered Hardox wear plate as a solution. “When you’re drilling in rock, the augers taper really badly. It has taken some time to design and get into the market, but the results have been incredible.

Hamish Taylor’s fence line in Central Otago

We use Swedish Hardox steel for the flighting, as it is made for extreme abrasion resistance,” says Troy. In June 2018, the prototype was sent south to Alexandra where it was tested by Hamish Taylor at Central South Island Contracting. Hamish was also heavily involved in the design and testing stages.

“Having Hamish test the augers in the field has been a huge asset in the design and build stages,” says Troy. A Hardox auger was also sent down to the team at Samuel Fencing, who do a lot of drilling in solid rock.

Drilling in flint, Southern England 

Mike Samuel, from Samuel Fencing, says, “It drills a lot faster than previous augers I’ve had, which saves us a lot of time and it shows a lot less wear.” Having been tested in all kinds of environments, including drilling in schist rock and solid quartz, both of which are very abrasive, Troy is confident in the finished product.

“The lifespan of the augers has dramatically increased, especially when constantly working in rocky ground. Instead of an auger lasting a week, some people have had up to one year’s usage now,” says Troy.

As well as the change of material, he also implemented his idea of having two sides to the augers to save on space and the end-user money. The resulting double-sided auger is reversible, with 125mm flighting at one end for posts and 175mm at the other end for strainers, allowing the user to only carry one auger which can do the job of two.

Rock Monster series

Drilling in chalk, Southern England 

Troy is continuously looking for ways to innovate and improve his product. Last October, he launched the ‘Rock Monster Series’, where he and Hamish developed and improved the Hardox augers even further.

Troy worked out that he could achieve a 130% longer lifespan in comparison to his first Hardox augers by using a slightly different grade and size of Hardox wear plate for the flighting. The shafts are made from solid Hardox 400 bar so they can be used under both post drivers and heavy excavators.

Once again, the first Rock Monster Auger was sent down to Hamish for testing.
“Fencing in Central Otago, we deal with a lot of quartz seams and plenty of surface rock,” says Hamish. “The new Rock Monster auger has proven itself very quickly. Working with Troy for the last 18 months to create an auger that’s efficient and also lasts has been a great success.

“Some ideas worked and others didn’t, but it was never a problem for Troy. Between us, we brainstormed another plan going forward and came up with a double flight start system. This has been the biggest breakthrough for me personally, as it removes the material faster, causing less wear on the heads.”

The price of Troy’s Rock Monster augers are the same price as three mild steel augers, but he says they last at least eight times longer while drilling at twice the speed.
“When looking at price per hole, it works out to be cost-effective in comparison to everything else.

The Rock Monster augers drill far better than the mild steel augers and hugely cut down on maintenance time for our customers. These days, people are happier to pay for quality and longevity. “In the current market, no augers come anywhere near our Rock Monster series.

The wear-life is an estimated 800% more in comparison to mild steel augers when drilling in hard ground,” says Troy. “Throughout New Zealand, there are a lot of different types of materials that the Rock Monster will have no trouble drilling through. “Pipe clay is through a fair chunk of New Zealand, and our Rock Monsters will eat pipe clay alive.

The central North Island has a lot of papa, which has quite a lot of sand in it. While it’s not hard, it’s abrasive. Our Rock Monsters last an impressively long time in that kind of ground.”

In October 2019, Troy’s Rock Monsters were recognised as a first-class product, becoming a certified member of Hardox In My Body from SSAB (Swedish Steel). The Hardox In My Body certification ensures end users they are purchasing a superior steel product manufactured by a qualified programme member. 

Civil contractors catching on

The Rock Monster augers can also handle going under excavators of up to 16 tonnes to drill small holes of 100mm. “A mild steel auger couldn’t handle this weight,” says Troy.
“While our customers have traditionally been fencing contractors, who drill holes all day into abrasive materials, we’ve recently seen a shift as civil contractors catching onto using Hardox.

“We’re starting to see a trend of more and more civil and roading contractors purchasing our Hardox augers. They don’t drive through that many holes, but they’re hitting hard bitumen at the sides of roads,” says Troy.

“In the past, civil contractors have mainly been driven by price. They’ve started to catch on that if they pay a little bit more up front it becomes cheaper in the long run. Our civil customers are very happy with the performance and wear life of our Hardox augers,” says Troy.

“Fencing is what really puts augers to the test, as they’re drilling hole after hole. We can guarantee if our fencing contractors are happy with our Hardox augers, our civil customers will be too,” he says.

Designing and building post drivers

 Cold day in Southern England

A completely Kiwi-owned and operated business, run by Troy and his partner Leanne, the Fencequip name is rapidly spreading and attracting a loyal following. “We do the whole lot: we design, build, market, and sell direct. We deal directly with our customers to get a better understanding of what the customer needs.

This means we can also be competitive on price while also using the highest quality parts we can source,” says Troy. Troy’s hard work and Kiwi ingenuity is clearly paying off, with the first two Fencequip post drivers sold to the international market at the end of last year.

“Word of mouth spread over to the UK and people heard that our products are the way to go. We sold a post driver which will drill through flint and chalk in England,” says Troy.
“This is an exciting time for our company. We custom build to suit our customers’ requirements and really believe in keeping our customers happy. We design and build our products to last.”

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