Tech Notes: Hydraulic Pile Drivers Work Out of a Tight Spot, Quietly

Driving piles is typically considered one of the noisiest, most disruptive activities at a construction job site.  The increased noise and vibration levels can disrupt ongoing client activity as well as adjacent neighbors.  However, new hydraulic pile-driving equipment may change this.

In a recent project to expand the paper making capacity of a Charleston, South Carolina paper plant a new foundation was required.  This project became complicated when is was learned that the old, vibration-sensitive paper machine needed to remain in place and in operation for as long as possible before the equipment switch.  Also, the initial work had to be completed in a space with only 12 feet of headroom.

Based on these requirements the contractor decided to use steel H-Piles and contacted Ken-Jet Industries Ltd. , of Missagua, Ontario, (416) 670-2436.  Ken-Jet Industries had just started distributing the Japanese-made Still Worker hydraulic piling machine in North America.  The Still Worker uses hydraulics to drive piles with a smooth, fluid motion that minimizes noise and vibration.  The unit operates at ground level.  It grips a pile and pushes it down about 3 feet then releases.  It then slides up 3 feet and grips the pile for another push.

Originally, the contractor for the project figured on driving one and a half 40-foot piles per shift.  After practicing with the Still Worker they were able to install 3-4 piles per shift.

Different versions of the Still Worker can be used to install and extract steel H-Piles and sheet piles.  The sheet piling equipment can “self travel” across the tops of installed piles.

The noise generated by the Still Worker is 20 decibels quieter than Vibro Hammers (1/4 as loud) and 30 decibels quieter than a Pile Hammer (1/3 as loud).  Vibration levels are 30 decibels lower than a Vibro Hammer (1/3 the vibration) and 50 decibels lower than Pile Hammers (1/10 the vibration).  This process should be considered for projects in acoustically critical environments.

(c) Thorburn Associates 1993