A variety of factors can influence which equipment capacity is properly-suited to your pile driving project (such as soil conditions, pile materials, and engineering specifications) so that you are provided with structural integrity and proper load-bearing. Depending on the scope of your project, you may be able to utilize a highly efficient vibratory hammer which can be operated by a crew as small as two and mounted to an excavator. Larger projects will require all-in-one rigs to deliver optimal pile driving power.
Depending on the pile material, you will need to evaluate the pile cushions to avoid damaging the piles or equipment, which can result in costly downtime, expensive repairs and negative impact to your bottom line.
Many rig operators choose to rent pile driving equipment instead of maintaining a full fleet of machinery. This offers access to a complete line of capacities that can be tailored to specific needs and site conditions. Identifying the proper equipment before your break ground will ensure a project’s success. Working with a trusted service vendor to establish and implement inspections can help maintain all equipment and identify potential malfunctions or breakdowns before they cause significant issues.
How Soil Conditions Effect Equipment Capacity
A professional soil boring and analysis should always be conducted to help identify the right machine for the specific conditions and depths specified by the engineering team. Harder and more dense soil conditions will require different rigs than soft, sandy, or loosely aggregated soils that may need reinforcement through a process referred to as compaction.
Crews should monitor each strike and ensure that the proper strength blow is maintained throughout the installation of piles, no matter the soil conditions. Unless an operator has a highly specialized niche, they often drive piles in a wide variety of conditions and need access to a full fleet of pile driving equipment.
The soil analysis is one of the most important considerations when developing a scope for a pile driving project and identifying the right equipment. If piles are driven deeper than estimated, it is likely caused by soil conditions that are offering less resistance than anticipated. If you’re experiencing lower blow-counts, there may be subsurface pile damage. This can also indicate the presence of tensile stress along the pile and compressive stress at the toe of the pile.
Pile foundations are typically constructed from concrete, steel, timber, or plastic and are designed to transfer the structural loads to soils at considerable depths underneath the structure. Different pile materials have advantages and disadvantages and will be determined by engineering specifications tailored to a project’s specific structural demands and the soil conditions.
Concrete piles are divided into two distinct categories; precast and cast-in-place. Precast concrete piles offer many advantages, including low manufacturing costs, longer driven lengths, and increasing the density of granular foundation stratum. Though they can be damaged more easily than other materials, soil may be displaced, heaved, or otherwise disturbed during driving.
Cast-in-place concrete piles offer greater versatility and a dynamic solution that can be tailored to project’s with challenging engineering requirements or site conditions. For cast-in-place piles, rig operators often opt for foundation drill rig rental to gain access to foundation drilling equipment that may be too costly to include in their fleet.
Steel piles feature a relatively small cross-section area compared to their height and are ideal for driving in firm soils. One downside of steel piles is that they can be corroded when exposed to certain environmental elements, including saltwater or soils with a low pH value. In some cases, steel piles may also be prohibitively expensive.
Traditional piles were constructed from timber and have become less common as access to other materials has become more readily available. They are also limited in the lengths that they can be produced in. One of the primary benefits of timber piles is that they are easier to handle and transport than concrete or steel piles and are also relatively inexpensive in areas where lumber is found in good supply. Timber piles can be easily damaged during driving and can rot when exposed to water. Also, hammers with higher capacities can damage timber piles if a proper cushion or cap is not installed.
Composite piles are commonly driven in marine settings where corrosive elements can damage steel piles or cause timber piles to rot. They offer a versatile solution for environments that are subject to extreme seasonal changes.
Making the Best Equipment Capacity Decisions
With over fifty years of experience selling and renting pile driving equipment, our dedicated team of salespeople and service technicians can help operators identify the proper machinery and troubleshoot or repair equipment in the field helping to reduce costly downtime.
RPI Equipment has a full range of drilling and pile driving equipment, and we believe in transparent communication from day one. We offer competitive pricing, and our success depends on your success.