The Benefits of Helical Piling

December 20, 2015

Creating a strong, durable deep foundation is imperative for the success of any construction project, particularly for industrial facilities and plants. To do this it is imperative to select the correct piling for the job. However, every foundation and facility is different, and what works for one may not be ideal for another. Let’s take a look at one particular type of piling, how it works, and applications: helical piling. Helical piling has a number of advantages that makes it ideal for a number of different situations.

Deep Foundations

Basic piles and more complicated variations are typically found in deep foundations, which transfer the load of a building or other structure deep into the earth rather than allowing it to sit on the surface. Deep foundations are an excellent choice for projects which involve large loads, poor soil conditions, or site-unique constraints. Parts of a foundation might include cassions, drilled shafts, or footings; although the single most common component is the pile: a large column, rod, or pillar driven deep into the ground to help anchor the structure in place. There are many different kinds of piles including the helical pile.

About Helical Piling

One of the types of piles available from the STI Group is the helical pile, also known as a screw-pile or helical anchor. As the name suggests, this pile differs from a regular pile in that plates are welded in a helical (spiral) shape around the central shaft. The helix might run most of the length of the shaft or only involve the tip; the size, thickness, material, configuration, and other design considerations of the anchor will depend on the requirements of an individual project.

Installation of Helical Pilings

While standard piles are simply pounded into the ground using a pile driver, helical piles are rotated so that they can bore into the earth, much like a small screw bores into a piece of wood. Generally the installation of a screw pile requires earthmoving equipment that has had special rotary attachments added; anything from a front-end loader to a massive excavator can be used for this purpose. Special attachments link the anchor to the driver, ensuring that it is installed correctly. Careful attention is required so that the effectiveness and lifespan of the pile can be maximized.

The Advantages of Helical Piling

So what exactly are the benefits of a helical anchor? There are many reasons why this specialized pile can be an excellent choice for a specific project. One major advantage is that installing a helical pile is quick and relatively simple. Since a number of different types of construction equipment can be used for installation, there is no need to locate special, difficult to find equipment. This also allows for a great deal of flexibility is available for special situations, making helical piles an excellent choice for installation at sites that are in remote locations or otherwise have limited access. Even in situations that involve issues like minimal headroom or congested entrances, helical piles can usually be installed with machinery that is already available.

Helical Piling Causes Minimal Disturbance

This flexibility means that the work footprint can be reduced, which in turn means that installing helical piles also involves limited site disturbance. No soil cuttings are needed, which both keeps the site clean and reduces project costs. Helical piles also produce fewer vibrations than pile-driving does, and create less noise. This means that they are a great choice for situations where existing structures should remain undisturbed.

Helical Piling and Speed

Helical piles can be installed very quickly, with rotation rates that typically range from 6 to 10 rpm. While the exact nature of the project may cause results to vary somewhat, generally an anchor can be advanced at about two feet per minute, and a fifty-foot installation can be completed in under an hour. Another reason helical piles can help speed up the construction process is that they can carry loads immediately, since there is no need to wait for concrete to cure or grout to harden.

Helical Piling and Flexibility

Helical piling offers a significant advantage in that load capacity can be verified during installation, and simple modifications can be made in the field to increase load capacity. With a specialized torque measuring device, an installation team can determine the potential capacity immediately, and modifications such as extension sections can allow for rapid adaptation. This makes helical piling a great choice for projects that require flexibility.

Helical Piling and Varied Terrain

Helical piling can be installed in a wide variety of possible configurations and soil types. If needed they can be placed on an angle or even horizontally. They can also be placed in soils that range from stiff clay to loose sand. Finally they can even be placed in locations with high groundwater, making them a great choice for clients who are building facilities in coastal regions, which may in turn be crucial for shipping and sea access.

Helical Piling and Sustainability

Finally, helical piles are a sustainable technology that can easily be removed once they have served their purpose. This means that they are a great choice for sites where minimal environmental impact is required. They can even be reused from project to project to reduce waste.

STI Group and Helical Piling

STI Group offers a wide range of piling and deep foundation services for our industrial clients, including helical piling. Helical piling is a great way to ensure that a structure will remain solid and secure for years to come. However, it is not the only option and we will always strive to ensure that every project gets the ideal piling it needs.