Every successful construction project starts with thorough planning and structural designs. This is especially true when a project requires pier construction for marine projects or large jobs that require deep foundations to support considerable loads. The unique elements needed to complete these projects require special considerations, and a number of factors come into play when undertaking a project of this nature.
They also require specialized drilling or pile driving equipment that is tailored to engineering specifications and will ensure structural integrity while avoiding costly breakdowns or malfunctions. Many rig operators and contractors avoid these types of projects due to the availability and cost of heavy equipment. Still, with options for renting drilling or pile driving rigs, these costs can be incorporated into the estimate while offering the optimal solution for the project.
Lateral and horizontal forces on piers require special considerations and equipment to keep the project on track from day one.
Pier Construction Applications
There are three primary ways to construct open piers or wharves. The conventional method involves installing complete systems of piles to provide a foundation for construction. Some projects require the foundations to be built upon jack-up barges, which serves as the construction platform for marine projects. The third option is to build a template offsite and then install it in-situ, though this can create logistical issues with transportation and unforeseen site conditions.
The conventional method offers the ability to drive piles of different materials depending on the site’s specific conditions. This can require specialized machinery to avoid damaging piles with too much force.
Installing piles from a floating deck can be costly and requires careful planning and logistics. Consult with a local vendor to ensure that all necessary equipment will be available and that it is rated to handle the specific requirements of the project.
Pier Construction Materials
Depending on the scope of the project and the site’s unique conditions, different types of piles can be utilized to ensure structural integrity and avoid corrosion from elements like saltwater.
For light-duty piers, timber is the most popular material and, when properly treated before installation, can offer years of support without decaying. An added benefit is the lower costs of timber piles, and the pile-driving equipment used to install them is often less cost-prohibitive.
Steel is typically used in most marine applications because it is resistant in corrosive environments if adequately treated with exposure to coal tar or a cathodic protection system.
Concrete is the best material for constructing marine piles because it is extremely durable and resistant to corrosive elements.
Composite piles utilize both steel and concrete and can support significant loads in harsh environments. These include concrete-encased H-piles and pipe piles that are filled with concrete.
There are a variety of factors to consider when designing the structural elements of a deck. The most careful consideration should be given to the distribution of concentrated loads. These can require complex designs from your engineering team that needs equipment tailored to the project. Many contractors avoid the considerable expense and oversight that comes with fleet management and choose to rent pile driving equipment.
The substructure design also requires careful planning and is a vital component of every structure’s overall integrity. Most open piers and wharves utilize pile bent framing, which is ideally suited for marine applications. A hydraulic piling rig can be mounted to deliver the most effective results that are tailored to your project’s unique demands and specific capacities.
Pier construction projects present some unique challenges, but with the right equipment and a comprehensive plan, they are similar to other jobs. Because piles are subjected to lateral loads across the length of the pile and can require numerous stress tests throughout the duration of the project. If your project calls for concrete piles, ensure that they have been pre-stressed to avoid cracking during installation or driving.
Frequent inspection of the hammer cushion should occur if you’re driving concrete piles to avoid damage to the pile or the equipment, which can result in costly downtime or repairs.
Another important consideration is deterioration which can be mitigated by utilizing more durable materials even if the initial costs are more significant. Another factor to bear in mind is variable costs for transportation, oil and lubricants for machinery, and equipment rentals.
RPI Equipment has been providing pile driving and drilling rig equipment sales and rentals for more than fifty years and believe in transparency to help our clients get the job done right the first time. We understand the unique demands of drilling and pile driving projects, and our full line of rigs and equipment is proudly made in the USA.
Our dedicated team of service technicians can help identify and troubleshoot a wide range of equipment and can travel to your job site to repair and service your equipment to help your crews stay in the field and avoid downtime.