Piling Canada

Small and Mighty

Tricky situations can call for smaller rigs - Meet the Junttan PM16
Written by Jim Chliboyko
March 2015

Tricky situations can call for smaller rigs – Meet the Junttan PM16

It’s not necessarily the largest piece of equipment available for the job that is always the best or most appropriate. Occasionally, smaller solutions can be equally or better suited. There are factors other than size and power involved with choosing appropriate equipment, such as portability, maneuverability, ease of use and even weight allowances on roads. In the case of pile drivers, sometimes the trickier the situation the job presents, the smaller the rig may be necessary.

Many have turned to the Finnish pile driver manufacturer Junttan and their PM16 model, a 37,000-kilogram machine, to get their jobs done. (The next machine in the Junttan lineup, the PMx20, is significantly larger, listed on the Junttan website as 55,000 kilograms.)

“[The PM16] has been a really good seller for us,” said Bruce Patterson of Canadian Pile Driving Equipment. “It’s a little machine with a big heart. It’s capable of driving upwards of 16 meters of pile length. Basically, the PM16 is the smallest, lightest purpose-built piling rig that Junttan makes. It’s big in Alberta at places like oil sands sites and pipeline facilities.”

The PM16 comes with a few options, such as an optional side drill or vibrator hammer. The tracks are also expandable and there is a self-erecting leader. The rig can handle wood, concrete or different kinds of steel piles, has a recommended hammer ram weight from 3,000 to 4,000 kilograms and was designed with a low centre of gravity to ensure stability.

Patterson also mentioned that the PM16 also comes with U10 hydraulic hammer, which produces 43,000 foot-pounds of energy, and he likes the engine with which the unit is equipped.

“It’s a Cummins engine, very reliable. It’s a fuel efficient machine, as well,” he said.

Those using the unit in the field are lauding the PM16 for the speed with which they can complete jobs using the model. Stephen Pearson’s work takes him to the oil fields of Alberta, where he has brought along his company’s PM16 to work on a number of projects.

“We had to do 400 piles at a condensate facility,” said Pearson, who works for Helical Pier Systems out of their Alberta office. “We allotted two weeks for the job, but we did it in one week [with the Junttan PM16]. It’s quick and it’s versatile.”

Helical Pier Systems is the largest helical pile foundation firm in North America. In Alberta, the company works largely in oil field construction, says Pearson, on projects such as natural gas facilities. They also do power transmission work and dabble in both commercial and infrastructure projects. The settings of jobs are an important factor, because where the job is located often determines the type and size of machinery that project managers are able to turn to.


“This is a unit that is good for small- to medium-sized jobs,” said Helical Pier Systems’ Ben Kasprick on the PM16. “We’re a tech leader, which lead us to the Junttan; it’s a natural fit for us.”

The unit that Helical Pier Systems has is being used full-time, say the pair.

“One of the biggest challenges we had was when we had two jobs,” said Pearson. “We were able to do both of them in one day. And they were two different sites, 100 kilometres apart.”

He easily recalls another challenging situation where the company’s Junttan PM16 alleviated concerns.

“Another one of the jobs was a small job for Enbridge. It was tight quarters; the road wasn’t closed,” he said. “It was a live facility but the window we had to work in and the control you have with hoisting is really good. You can work close to live structures. It’s efficient and reliable, gives a better handle for controlling quality in the field.”

The PM16 isn’t necessarily the newest piece of equipment on the block. Patterson of Canadian Pile Driving Equipment says that the first one was produced and shipped to the Netherlands in 1999. But Junttan has made some changes, and the PM16 has undergone a series of constant improvements over the last 16 years. 

“This machine has evolved from being able to handle 15-metre pile length to 18-metre pile length, with very little change in machine weight,” he said. “And now with the HHK4S hydraulic impact hammer, it can deliver 43,542 foot-pounds of energy.”

The PM16 is evidently enjoying popularity in other places within Canada besides the western oil fields. Patterson says that his company has moved five PM16s into Quebec in the last two years alone.

“Anywhere that we’re getting into weight restrictions for transport, [the PM16 becomes popular],” said Patterson. “It’s a good seller throughout Canada, but especially in Quebec where they are limited to transportation weight, and can haul it in one piece. Because of the state of their infrastructure, they’re really restricted in what they can transport in a single load in Quebec.”

The PM16 is easily transportable in other ways, too. The minimum track width is just under 10 feet wide while its height, when ready for transport, is just under 12 feet. With a standard leader, the length of the rig is 63 feet, but with a hinge-equipped leader the PM16 measures 49.5 feet long.

“It has a folding lead or mast on it, so you are able to haul it without a pilot truck, and because the machine is so short, it doesn’t overhang,” said Patterson. “You can bring the PM16 into the site in one load – complete – and set it up within minutes. It is capable of doing the majority of the 20-inch or smaller diameter piles.”

For those in the marine side of the industry, the PM16 has also been known to be handy near the water for those marine jobs.

“Guys have placed them on barges,” said Patterson. “And there’s an advantage there, because of its overall [light] weight on a barge.”

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Category: Business

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