What Type of Pile Driver Do I Need for My Construction Project?

One of RPI Construction Equipment’s CZM EK125HH pile driving rigs on a job site for pipe piles.

When you begin evaluating your construction project’s equipment scope and deciding on the right type of pile driver, it’s important to make sure you select a driver tailored to your specific needs.

This can range from the depth of the piles, pile type, soil conditions, and other unique job site requirements.

Pile drivers offer essential tools for many different projects, from bridge and dock construction to foundations for homes, commercial, and civic buildings.

While some smaller pile driving equipment setups can be operated by a crew of as little as two, pile driving rigs require specialized operators who are licensed to operate them to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal OSHA guidelines.

If you are unfamiliar with which pile driving rig is right for you, it’s best to contact a local dealer or technician to evaluate your projects’ needs.

Getting the right piece of equipment the first time will avoid costly and time consuming downtime.

The Location of Your Project Can Influence the Type of Pile Driver to Choose

Land and water-based projects require different pile driving equipment, and this is the first thing to consider when choosing your pile driver. This, of course, is an easily identifiable variable, so it should not present further challenges.

A consideration with a bit more nuance is whether the project is being completed in a residential, urban, or open area.

Projects in residential areas and cities often have noise ordinances that would require the use of a vibratory hammer to avoid costly fines or complaints from neighboring residences or businesses.

One of RPI Equipment’s vibratory hammers for rent, the MKT V-52 Vibratory Hammer, on a job site with Caisson Beams and Clamps.

If your project requires driving piles in solid rock or other difficult soil conditions, you will likely need to utilize a drilling rig, such as a CZM drilling rig for rent or sale.

Drilling rigs utilize specialized tools engineered specifically for these conditions. Drills can also pulverize rock with a down-the-hole hammer or cluster hammer that creates impact and rotation simultaneously.

These pieces of equipment require rather powerful air compressors and accessories like calyx baskets, additional casings, as well as oil and water injection systems.

Vibratory Hammer Use in Residential, Light Commercial or Civic Projects

Vibratory hammers have become one of the most popular types of pile driving equipment on today’s market due to their relatively compact size, ease of operation, and ability to attach to an excavator.

In many cases, they only require a two-person crew to operate them safely and efficiently.

How to Identify What Size Vibratory Hammer Will Get the Job Done:

Amplitude Formula

Generally speaking, vibratory hammers are the fastest and most efficient solution for driving support of excavation or non-load bearing piles.

That said, they do have some limitations. Often, they require the use of cranes with trained and licensed operators if the piles become too large for an excavator-mounted vibratory hammer.

One solution for this is side clamp vibratory hammers, which grip the pile perpendicularly.

When evaluating using a vibratory hammer, one crucial consideration to take into account is that they work best in low cohesion soil conditions, like sand and silt. However, they will likely not be successful in cohesive soils like clay.

Review the above formula to estimate amplitude. Eccentric moments will be found on the vibratory hammer specification sheet. Vibrating mass is the sum of the dynamic weight of the vibratory hammer, plus the weight of the pile.

Keep in mind that if amplitude is calculated at less than ¼” then a larger hammer is needed.

One of RPI Equipment’s Side Clamp Vibratory Hammers, the MKT V-5ESC Side Clamp Vibratory Hammer, on a job site that required the use of a side clamp vibratory hammer for the foundation drilling project.

When Does an Impact Hammer Make More Sense?

Impact hammers can be used in both cohesive and non-cohesive soil conditions.

While impact hammers are typically considered the most effective pile drivers, they produce a significant amount of noise and are not well suited for sensitive or restricted job sites.

They are powerful pieces of equipment that can drive load bearing piles and prove the bearing capacity using the following formula and counting the number of blows delivered.

RUF Formula

RUF = Ultimate load capacity of the pile at time of driving predicted by the driving formula (lbs), U = Rated energy output of hammer (inch lbs), S = Permanent set of pile per blow (inches), C = 0.1 for steam, air, and diesel hammers and 1.0 for drop hammers.

There are three types of impact hammers:

  • Hydraulic
  • Diesel
  • Air Pile Drivers

Hydraulic hammers can be mounted on an excavator with a mast to gain the necessary height for the pile size. Hydraulic hammers also outperform diesel hammers and operate more efficiently.

Air pile drivers are also highly efficient and provide an alternative to diesel or hydraulic hammers.

Once you’ve determined your soil conditions with a professional bore evaluation, you can begin to start choosing which pile driving rig or drilling rig will perform the best for your construction project.

Having the right equipment from day one will ensure that your project gets done right without going over budget or having costly delays due to malfunction or underperforming pile driving equipment.

Also, you can save money on equipment that is unnecessarily powerful for your project.

If you’re unsure about load-bearing requirements, it’s best to work with your engineering team to ensure that your piles will meet all safety requirements and construction codes.

Whether you’re building docks, bridges, or foundations, a trusted equipment dealer can provide you with the right type of pile driver to get the job done.

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