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Hubbell Power Systems, Inc., releases HeliCAP® Version 3

By Deb Draper

 

For more than 30 years engineers have been using Hubbell Power Systems, Inc., HeliCAP® Helical Capacity Design Software to help design foundations, tiebacks, soil nails and heavy guyed loads using helical anchors and piles. Over those three decades, the software system has evolved into a powerful tool in the advancement of the foundation industry, with its most recent Version 3 continuing to add to the program’s design capabilities.

“Helical piles have a central shaft to which at least one helix plate is attached so we can screw the pile into the ground,” said Gary Seider, P.E., engineering manager, Hubbell Power Systems, Inc. “The software allows us to design those helical anchors and piles based on soil information – what type of helical pile, how deep it needs to be, how many helix plates are required.”

The Hubbell facility in Centralia, Mo., has been making helical anchors and piles for close to 80 years, serving a wide variety of markets including the North American construction industry, especially when it comes to foundation repairs. From houses to commercial properties, if there are foundation issues, there are usually buildings close by. As helical piles use smaller equipment and can be installed in most weather conditions, they are often the best solution for such repairs. Sometimes a foundation contractor will need to design a helical anchor or pile, and the HeliCAP® software is a fast and easy solution.

The software was first developed in Centralia by CHANCE engineers under the ownership of Emerson Electric in the mid- to late-1980s, in the form of a spreadsheet and then eventually a program written in BASIC. “We developed design calculations based on standard engineering practices, bearing capacity theory,” said Seider. “We looked at each helix as a plate bearing in the soil to solve the question: how will the soil bear that load, what is the capacity?

“Later in 1999, under the current ownership of Hubbell, Inc., we released the Windows-based HeliCAP® Version 1. In 2007, Version 2 came out with some improvements and our latest Version 3 was released in 2019, with even more features and powerful system capabilities.”

 

What’s new in HeliCAP® Version 3?

“Probably the main feature that users will notice is that this new version is cloud-based software, requiring an internet connection, user name and password to log in to an account,” said Seider. “We made the decision to go in this direction because it makes it very easy to implement changes and include new releases in the future.”

Cloud-based also means the HeliCAP® Version 3 offers much more storage for job files. Security is no longer a concern because only the individual account holder will have access – even the system administrator cannot access data files. From a collaboration standpoint, to address possible questions or to allow a colleague to look at the files, the creator can grant user permission with either read-only or edit rights. Plus, users have the ability to create up to 10 soil profiles in a single job.

Seider said, “We have added a section related to ASTM D1586 blow count efficiency. Implementing information taken from geotechnical reports using standard penetration testing, the software allows the user to input hammer efficiency. According to which hammer type is being used, HeliCAP® automatically corrects blow count into N60 values, based on 60 per cent efficiency as has been used for many years, from which soil strength correlations are based. This allows the user to be more accurate with blow cap values entered.

“We also greatly expanded the number of helical anchors and piles used in the program to complement the wide variety of families of helical piles that Hubbell offers as the manufacturer of CHANCE® brand helical anchors and foundations: square shaft, low displacement pipe shafts, large diameter pipe shafts, grouted displacement piles and our combo piles. This offers a large selection of products to use and now with the new cloud-based system, we will be able to continue to integrate new products into the software.”

“We’ve been a CHANCE® helical pile installer for a long time,” said Chris Vervaeke, P.Eng., project manager, TerraCana Foundation Solutions, Inc. “And the office has been using the HeliCAP® software for at least 10 years. I’ve used it on some of my projects to give engineers information as to why helical piles will work in that situation and it helps us get more data beyond using our hand calculations.

“Often with helical piles, the software is used for verification, plus we do a lot of testing. The HeliCAP® software also allows the user to design for grouted displacement helical piles, which not a lot of other software design partners offer. Grouted piles are used in situations with poor soils such as peats, very soft clays, where increased capacity is needed.”

In addition to keeping the program up to date on the newest CHANCE® products, Seider says that the developers are thinking about adding a predictor about pile deflection sometime in the future – an important consideration in foundation design.

 

Using the HeliCAP® Version 3 software

“We have made the software as user friendly as possible,” said Seider. “We have tutorials on our Hubbell TV link along with many HeliCAP® videos. Through CHANCE® University, we offer online sessions with design examples using actual projects/jobs sent to us. We input the data into the software and show participants on the Zoom call how to use it. We’re in the process of setting up these sessions regionally and have already offered one in Vancouver, B.C., and in the Pacific Northwest. We plan to eventually cover all of North America.”

Vervaeke says that his TerraCana office often fields calls from engineers with questions about the CHANCE® products. “We can walk them through what needs to be done for a pile, what the technology is, how to design something for what they’re doing. We frequently give them a CHANCE® technical design manual and explain to them that there are step-by-step instructions in there, a lot of good detail. Or we give them access to the HeliCAP® software to learn how to design their piles.

“Oftentimes this is in the early stages of a project, when engineers may not know how many piles they want, how big a pile, what the loads are. The software gives them the opportunity to play around with different designs, as well as verifying and understanding which helical pile to use on their project.”

Version 3 of the HeliCAP® Helical Capacity Design Software continues to provide comprehensive and accessible helical pile design information to the foundation construction industry. 

 

 

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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.