Features

 

Features

  • Into the Arctic

    Battling Arctic temperatures, 24-hour darkness and shipping delays, the Ruskin team constructed an iron ore loading dock with great precision

    By Lisa Kopochinski

    Ruskin Construction is currently completing work on an iron ore dock at Canada’s northernmost producing mine – the Mary River site on the northern end of Baffin Island – for Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation.

    This is quite a feat since this remote location is 500 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, and has an average winter temperature of -30 degrees Celsius with several months of 24-hour darkness.

  • Joining Forces for a Stronger Future

    The evolution of Northstar Sharp's Foundation Specialists

    By Deb Smith

    Two of Alberta’s most respected names in deep foundations have amalgamated to form one comprehensive solution to Western Canada’s foundation construction industry: Northstar Sharp’s Foundation Specialists.

    For more than 30 years, Sharp’s Construction Services Ltd. operated as a specialized sub-contractor out of Leduc, Alta. They provided foundation solutions across Canada specializing in large-diameter drilling and concrete piles. Meanwhile, established in 2005 in Clairmont, Alta., Northstar EnergyServices Inc. focused on driven and helical piling,

  • Leaner, Meaner, Greener

    Overcoming environmental challenges

    By Sarah B. Hood

     

    Compared to many sectors, pile driving has a relatively light impact on the environment. 

    “For most land-based piling applications, we’re installing untreated steel, concrete or timber, so the environmental challenges are limited,” said Colin Kaufmann, project manager with West Shore Constructors Ltd. of North Vancouver. “But when we’re working with treated or coated materials, or near watercourses, we have a greater potential to impact the environment. While some of our responses to these challenges are prescribed by the regulatory agencies, at other times we must provide our own solutions to those challenges.”

  • Lessons Learned

    Learning from mistakes is one thing. But mitigating mistakes by managing expectations using an ironclad contract is another thing entirely, and can be the difference between a great job and a great loss.

    By Jess Campbell

     

    We all face challenges in our businesses from time to time. Arguably, how you handle those challenges is less about what you may lose

  • Let's Talk About Safety

    When it comes to staying safe on the job site, communication is key

    By Jess Campbell

    When leaving for work each morning, we often don’t think about our safety. We tend to take for granted that we’ll have a decent day and come home to our loved ones, ready to eat and rest and do it all again tomorrow. But, of course, accidents happen. The Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), in its most recent data, reports that in 2014, there were 919 workplace deaths across the country; 232 of those happened in the construction industry. That may not seem like a significant number, but you could argue that anything above zero is significant when it comes to workplace fatalities.

    Safety is everyone’s responsibility and shouldn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the safety manager or site supervisor. Safety talks are a fantastic resource to incorporate into your organization’s safety program. Talking, however, is one thing; walking that talk is another. How do you keep your team engaged and focused during a safety talk? Who should conduct them, and how often? There are many different ways to hold effective safety talks and ensure everyone heads home safely at the end of the day.

  • Liability Clauses

     

    By Dean G. Giles,Fillmore Riley LLP

    Contracts used in the construction and engineering fields often contain so-called “exclusion of liability” or “limitation of liability” clauses that purport to reduce a party’s exposure to certain claims that may arise in connection with a project. Clauses of this sort are a means by which parties to the contract seek to minimize risk and protect themselves from what might otherwise be a ruinous damages

  • Life After Service

    Two Canadian organizations are connecting the country’s veterans with valuable career opportunities, helping to fill the skills gap in the construction industry

    By Rebecca Henderson

     

    Every year, 5,000 Canadians leave the military and transition back into civilian life. For many military personnel, it’s a transition that can feel – at times – daunting.

  • Making the Connections

    Networking groups in construction-related fields attract women to the industry

    By Barb Feldman

     

    In 2014, the non-profit Deep Foundations Institute (DFI), whose membership includes more than 4,000 excavation and deep foundation academics, contractors, engineers and suppliers from over 50 countries, established its Women in Deep Foundations Committee (WiDF). The committee’s mandate is to raise awareness of career opportunities for women in geotechnical engineering and deep foundations design and construction, increase professional development opportunities for women in the industry, and support women’s career readiness and growth through professional development programs, networking, mentoring and outreach.

  • Meet a Piling Professional

    Louis Fritz, P.Eng., Bermingham Foundation Solutions

    Describe your current job at Bermingham. 
    Louis Fritz: I’m a sales engineer – what I do is sell equipment that we engineer and manufacture. The area I cover is all of Canada, and the northeastern and northwestern U.S.

    What are your areas of responsibility? 
    LF: My role is mainly a sales function. I handle the sales and rental of all of our equipment, but I also spend a lot of my time supporting my customers with a bid scheme and a site startup. I think that puts my role on a bit of a different level than simply sales.

  • Mixing it Up

    Soil mixing is an increasingly popular option for Canadian contractors

    By Jim Timlick

     

    It was more than half a century ago that soil mixing was first introduced in Japan as a method to help stabilize soils with low-bearing capacity. However, it’s only been fairly recently that the technique has become more commonly used in the Canadian construction industry.

  • Oh, Canada!

    MilleFloreImages/Photos.comDeep foundation construction in our great nation

    By Lisa Kopochinski

    Although the piling industry in Canada is relatively young, the history of piling as a technique can actually be traced back to the fourth century B.C., when Herodotus, the Greek writer and traveler, recorded how the Paeonians lived in dwellings erected on lofty piles driven into a lake bed.

    Other references to ancient piling include lake dwellers in Switzerland, who approximately 6,000 years ago were thought to have built structures on piled foundations to elevate dwellings to protect the occupants against attack. Not to be outdone, Greek and Roman engineers used piles along the Mediterranean coast. Early records show that piles were formed by using timber branches that were trimmed down with a small diameter at the bottom. They were driven into the soil as deep as the ground would allow.

    The industry has come a long way. And while piling today is largely steel and concrete, the one thing that remains constant is that piles continue to be used as deep foundations to support many types of structures and in many types of ground conditions.

  • Opportunity in Canada

    Liebherr’s annual press tour highlighted Canada’s importance for the construction industry

    By Lindsay Risto

     

    At the end of May I received an invitation from Liebherr-International to attend their annual Information Tour for the International Construction Trade Press. Long time readers of Piling Canadamay remember Piling Canadalast attended this event in 2013 in Germany and France.

  • Photo Ready

    Construction photography is not as easy as it looks, but it’s worth the effort

    By Heather Hudson

    Sometimes, your have to see it to believe it.

    In a world where YouTube is the second most popular search engine, photos and videos are king when it comes to gathering information. Whether you're showcasing your work on your website, advertising your services or prospecting for new clients, photographs tell a compelling story in the deep foundations industry.

    Joel Price, director of business at Doublestar Drilling in Alberta, says professional photography has become an important tool for the company.

  • Prepping Heavy Equipment for Remote Jobs

    Lost time can be prevented by properly planning the project, having the recommended parts on site, and scheduling sufficient time for inspections and maintenance on the equipment

    By Lisa Kopochinski

    One needs only to watch the television show Ice Road Truckers – which features drivers who operate trucks across frozen lakes, rivers and tundra in both Alaska and Canada’s north – to get an idea of the challenges involved when transporting equipment and supplies to remote locations in extreme and often treacherous conditions. These conditions also spotlight the importance of diligent planning to help ensure that heavy equipment will perform at peak capacity once they reach these locations. Machines must not only be prepped and maintained prior to transport, but inspected and maintained regularly on site.

  • Rebuilding a B.C. Bridge

    Courtesy of Construction Drilling Inc.Construction Drilling Inc. builds the foundation for the new Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria, B.C.

    By Jim Chliboyko

    If you’ve been to Victoria, you probably know whether or not you’ve been over the Johnson Street Bridge. 

    The name itself may not stand out, and it’s not as impressive as Vancouver’s soaring Lions Gate Bridge. But the Johnson Street Bridge has its own unique charm and a rather steampunk silhouette (as well as a moderately well-used hashtag on Instagram). It is a 90-year-old, light blue, steel, road and rail and pedestrian bascule bridge that connects downtown Victoria with the area towards Victoria West (Esquimalt, View Royal, Saanich and points west). The current bridge is being replaced by a sleeker, more seismic-ready and streamlined bascule bridge, but online commenters have already taken to express how much they’ll miss the old span when it’s gone.

    After several years of talking about the replacement bridge, the project itself actually got underway in May 2013. The project’s website says the replacement is “the largest infrastructure project undertaken by the City of Victoria.”

    Elsewhere, the site states, “The new bridge will be the largest single-leaf bascule bridge in Canada – and one of the largest in the world – creating a new iconic structure and destination within Victoria’s Inner Harbour.”

    The city estimates there are 30,000 crossings on the bridge every day, with 4,000 pedestrians and 3,000 cyclists also using the span. The main reason for the replacement is to meet the needs of a growing population by improving accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists. Also factoring in? Corrosion and obsolescence. Being a West Coast city, there are also aforementioned seismic adjustments needed. The value of the project is estimated to be just under $93 million, some of which is being provided by the Building Canada Fund and some from the Gas Tax Fund, amongst other sources.

  • Sealed Deal

    WATERLIGHT, SELF-SEALING CONCRETE STRUCTURES ARE RESILIENT FOR THE LONG TERM

    By Kim Biggar

     

    Driving concrete piles in the construction of a deep foundation makes them prone to cracking, which leads to water penetration and corrosion of the reinforcing steel. This is an issue that pile driving contractors have dealt with largely by applying an oil-based coating to the concrete piles before driving. The coating is intended to serve as a barrier to water penetration.

  • Shoring Up the Superstorm Defense

    By Brian M. Fraley, Fraley AEC Solutions, LLC

    The streets on the barrier island of Mantoloking, N.J. are alive with construction activity on an unseasonably warm day in November 2014. Heavy equipment is rolling and crawling. Hammers are pounding on lumber. Hard hats and safety vests dot the landscape. Progress is underway, but it came at a price.

    The Borough of Mantoloking was among the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The powerful imagery was witnessed around the world as this post-tropical cyclone pounded the New Jersey coastline, leaving in its wake fatalities, stranded residents, mangled homes, crumbling infrastructure and felled telephone poles. The ocean met the bay in up to five breach areas, forcing first responders to navigate the town in boats.

    To protect critical infrastructure
    As the 2014 hurricane season rolled in, a crew of workers from Springfield, N.J.-based EIC Associates was working feverishly to reduce, if not completely eliminate, the possibility that future superstorms would repeat history by installing just over 3.5 miles of steel sheet pile wall along the beach for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) Bureau of Coastal Engineering. The keystone of the project was a pair of German-manufactured RTG Rammtechnik GmbH pile drivers rented from the Aldan, Pa. office of Equipment Corporation of America (ECA). The scope of this $23.5-million project – part of a much larger beachfill project by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – entails driving the sheet piles, and installing bent plate caps and geotextile anti-scour aprons. Project manager Derek Serpe and project engineer John Caya are leading the team.

  • Shoring Up the Superstorm Defense

    By Brian M. Fraley, Fraley AEC Solutions, LLC

    The streets on the barrier island of Mantoloking, N.J. are alive with construction activity on an unseasonably warm day in November 2014. Heavy equipment is rolling and crawling. Hammers are pounding on lumber. Hard hats and safety vests dot the landscape. Progress is underway, but it came at a price.

    The Borough of Mantoloking was among the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The powerful imagery was witnessed around the world as this post-tropical cyclone pounded the New Jersey coastline, leaving in its wake fatalities, stranded residents, mangled homes, crumbling infrastructure and felled telephone poles. The ocean met the bay in up to five breach areas, forcing first responders to navigate the town in boats.

    To protect critical infrastructure
    As the 2014 hurricane season rolled in, a crew of workers from Springfield, N.J.-based EIC Associates was working feverishly to reduce, if not completely eliminate, the possibility that future superstorms would repeat history by installing just over 3.5 miles of steel sheet pile wall along the beach for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) Bureau of Coastal Engineering. The keystone of the project was a pair of German-manufactured RTG Rammtechnik GmbH pile drivers rented from the Aldan, Pa. office of Equipment Corporation of America (ECA). The scope of this $23.5-million project – part of a much larger beachfill project by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – entails driving the sheet piles, and installing bent plate caps and geotextile anti-scour aprons. Project manager Derek Serpe and project engineer John Caya are leading the team.

  • Sold!

    Canadian contractors tell us what convinces them to buy

    By Lisa Kopochinski

     “There’s a sucker born every minute,” is a phrase that has been closely associated to P.T. Barnum, the American showman from the mid-19th century. And while that may hold true for numerous industries, many will argue that the construction industry isn’t one of them.

    Those in the deep foundation construction industry know a thing or two about what works – and what doesn’t. The stakes (and expenses) are simply too high to act impulsively – especially when making a purchase – particularly if it is for a large piece of equipment in a project located in a remote area.

  • Staying Safe

    Best safety practices for deep foundation construction sites

    By Sarah B. Hood

    The piling industry is much safer than it once was. Dennis Bell, HSE manager for Northstar Energy Services Inc., recalls how different things used to be, even around the turn of the millennium.

    “Now, we have designated pile driving units and hydraulic hammers,”he said. “Riggers used to climb the leads, so you had fall issues. Now, if something happens, [the clients supply a] zoom boom platform; we don’t climb leads anymore. It’s nice to see that the industry has come to a higher level of safety.”

    But even with the advances, there are still concerns.

    “The piling construction industry continues to have one of the highest WSIB premium rates in industry [twelfth highest out of 155 rate groups in Ontario],” said Paul Belair, MBA, BASc, CRSP, CHSE, the director of health, safety and environment for Keller Canada. Among the common industry hazards, he lists musculoskeletal injuries, trips and falls, contact with mobile equipment and rigs, injuries from equipment contact with live utilities services and entanglement from rotating parts.

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About Us

Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.