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AllSteel Coatings, Ltd., has what it takes to make it happen

By Deb Draper

 

AllSteel Coatings, Ltd., is a family-owned business that has been operating out of Port Hastings, N.S., since 1983. Beginning with industrial coatings, over the years the company has expanded to include everything from civil and structural fabrication and erection to mechanical installation to civil infrastructure and bridge work. Using innovative equipment developed by Berminghammer Foundation Equipment, AllSteel has further grown its professional capabilities.

“Right now we’re working on a bridge replacement in Brookfield, Nova Scotia, on secondary Highway 289,” said Dan Cooper, project manager, AllSteel Coatings, Ltd. “We mostly do small highway construction work, involving refurbishing older bridges with sandblasting and painting, but a lot of these bridges need so much paint, often it’s decided to replace them rather than refurbish.

“The current Brookfield job had to be done in really tight quarters with nearby powerlines and essentially was in people’s yards at times. Normally, piling is something that we would contract out, but it was becoming difficult to quote on tenders in a competitive way, and for this project, conventional piling equipment really wasn’t an option. So we looked around to see what we could get that would work better,” said Cooper.

What they found was Berminghammer’s innovative Excavator Mounted Lead (EML) Series of pile driving equipment.

“Traditionally, piling rigs are put onto cranes or dedicated rigs, but for general contractors or anyone with a job for a limited number of piles and difficult access, a crane can be very expensive,” said David Zanchetta, P.Eng., sales and field services representative for Berminghammer. “Often the contractor will have an excavator on site, and so in 2018 we released our latest innovation in pile-driving equipment, the Excavator Mounted Lead Series.”

The EML Series features a lead and hydraulically actuated drop hammer that can be attached to an excavator boom. Inside the excavator cab, the operator controls the device through an electronic line. As contractors often have an excavator on site, it’s a simple procedure to detach and attach the EML and be ready to drive piles.

Designed and manufactured in Hamilton, Ont., the EML 30 for 30-ton excavators came out first, the larger EML 45 for 45-ton excavators next and finally the EML 60 completed the lineup. The length of the piles that can be driven increases with the size of the excavator, while the hammer is large enough to prove 2,000 kilonewtons Ultimate Limit State capacity piles for bridges.

“AllSteel already had a couple of 45-ton excavators that don’t get a lot of work out here, so it was a natural conclusion when we found the EML 45 that it would be an appropriate footprint to get onto the site, minimizing disturbances to surrounding residents,” said Cooper. “There’s a sewer line, fiber optics; driving a full-size pile would require conventional piling equipment, set up with a crane and that just wasn’t an option for this job.”

The Berminghammer EML 45 can drive H-piles up to 50-feet-long, which works well for shoring applications driving both H-piles and sheet piles.

“The bridge is unique in its replacement method. We basically cut the bridge in half down the yellow line and are building the new half beside the older open bridge. Eventually we will tie them together. It’s not a large production job in terms of piling, and so with the EML 45, we can do a few piles at a time as we progress,” said Cooper.

“The beauty of having one of these hammers mounted to an excavator is that the excavator has low ground pressure. With the wide track your pound per square foot is pretty reasonable, whereas if you had a crawler crane, you would need crane pads, decompression testing, etc. Using the EML 45 makes everything much more stable.

“The EML is currently added to a Komatsu PC450LC excavator, and the only thing we had to buy extra was an anvil that allows it to adapt to sheet piles. The machine comes with an anvil for H-piles and for pipe piles, but with the added anvil, we can now pretty well drive whatever comes at us – at a certain size.”

Aside from its smaller footprint, the EML Series offers significantly decreased mobilization costs, requiring only one truckload and mounting it onto an excavator already on the site.

“This was the first EML used for a job in Nova Scotia,” said Zanchetta. “Because of Covid we had to do a completely virtual rig-out, but AllSteel was great to work with. Their excavator never came to Hamilton; instead we sent the equipment out to them and then went on Microsoft Teams to explain how to mount it. They would hold cameras, connecting virtually when we needed to see something and got it done no problem.”

“The Berminghammer team was great,” said Cooper. “They put a lot of time into making sure it was done right. We were also happy that they’re a Canadian manufacturer, so that it’s easy to get local support and service. That’s really important these days when it’s almost impossible to ship anything in.

“We had ordered extra material for the project, so once Berminghammer helped us set up the EML 45, we started smashing piles in our yard, learning how to use it, what to do and not to do, just getting used to the equipment. The learning curve is surprisingly shallow, it’s quite easy. Our excavator operator had it figured out in a day.

“Luckily this job is a design-build, so Harbourside Engineering Consultants did the design and worked with us from the beginning. They were great with the phasing and sequencing of the work, helping to guide us and work the EML 45 into the plan.”

Nucor Skyline is supplying the Z piles for the sheet pile retaining wall – an eight-metre wall put into place while the AllSteel crew digs down beside the tracker – and the HP 310 x 100 piles used in the abutment itself.

The gravity hammer/drop hammer that the EML 45 uses is substantially quieter than a diesel-driven hammer. In terms of minimizing impact to the residents, Cooper saw that it was absolutely the right option. “There is a diesel hammer offered for the EML 45, but that would be where you’re concerned about production numbers. Because of the situation, of how we have to work around so many obstacles, there are weeks between driving piles, so production numbers don’t factor into this job.”

Cooper says that the job is as close to a house as anyone would ever want to be when driving piles. There is a middle school and a high school just up the road and three houses in extremely close proximity. “We talked to the residents, took pictures of their basements, any visible areas that would show signs of distress with ground disturbance and asked them to keep an eye on things. And of course, there is fencing around everything. As well, we put in a temporary pedestrian bridge because the footpath on the existing bridge was no longer suitable for pedestrian use.”

Work on the project began in May, reaching the halfway mark in July. “We can’t drive the remaining piles until we get traffic on the part we’re working on now,” said Cooper. “We’re doing the first couple of layers of coating in the shop setting, then once it’s all assembled, we can do the final coat in the field. Right now it’s looking like we’ll be completely finished in October.”

Since beginning the current job in Brookfield, AllSteel’s EML 45 has landed the company a similar job using pipe piles. By the time that project finishes, the crew will have experience in using three different types of piles, ready to take on new opportunities as they arise. 

 

 

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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.