What is foundation drilling?
Foundation drilling is, in essence, using big machines to put big holes in the ground.
Most residential homes have a reinforced, concrete slab foundation poured on top of the ground. Though some settling and shifting will occur, it is not enough to send the walls tumbling down. However, huge structures like bridges and office buildings, need foundations that can handle some movement and are strong enough to carry the weight of the building itself and what’s on or inside of it. To do this, large construction projects use foundation drilling rigs to create drilled shafts. Also known as drilled piers, caissons or bored piles, drilled shafts are constructed by pouring concrete into a drilled hole. The load is supported mainly through skin friction where the subsurface soil surrounding the shaft holds it in place. End-bearing shafts carry the weight load on the base of the shaft. This type of drilled shaft is used less often.
The type of rig used depends on several factors. How deep and what the diameter of the holes will be, obviously. But, the type of soil, where the project is located (in a city or out in the boonies), and how much room there is to maneuver are just some of the considerations. The project requirements will also dictate which foundation drilling method is used.
These are the most common drilling methods:
Kelly drilling is a dry rotary drilling method. It is used to make bored piles with a large diameter, typically over 500mm. It’s is popular because it works for most types of rock and soil. A key part of this method is the telescopic drill rod – also known as the Kelly bar.
Continuous Flight Auger Drilling
Continuous flight auger drilling is another dry rotary method. It uses rotation of a continuous flight auger to displace soil. The auger needs to be the same length as the hole that will be drilled. This makes it a good solution for predrilling.
Double Rotary Drilling
Double rotary drilling combines continuous flight auger drilling with a continuous casing. This method is used for challenging soil conditions or sensitive environments. Drill cuttings are ejected from an opening in the top of the auger.
Full Displacement Drilling
Full displacement drilling is used for cast-in-place piles. The surrounding soil is only displaced and virtually no drill cuttings are brought to the surface. A smooth casing is used and fitted with a displacement body at the lower end.
Grab drilling is the oldest of the dry drilling methods. Soil is loosened by cutting or impact driving. This method is typically used for well drilling or cast-in-place piles.
Reverse Circulation Drilling
Reverse circulation drilling can produce boreholes of about 3.2m diameter. The method is useful in challenging soil conditions such as karst. This method uses the mammoth pump principle. The flushing drill fluid rises inside the drill rod and brings the drill cuttings to the surface. This technique can be used for soil or rock drilling.
For very hard rock or to break up boulders, the down-the-hole drilling method is used. A hammer is mounted on the drill bit at the end of the drill rod. Compressed air is used to pneumatically break and remove the rock or boulders. The bit breaks up the rock by rotating and impacting at the same time. The compressed air moves the loosened drill cuttings to the surface.
No matter the method, there is a foundation drilling rig available to put those big holes in the ground, in the right place, at the right depth.
Double Rotary Drilling
Full Displacement Drilling
How to Select Foundation Drilling Rig
Selecting the right foundation drilling rig can be daunting. They’re expensive – so you want to get it right the first time. You want to drill down (pardon the pun) to what your requirements truly are. Once you understand your “must-have” (hard) requirements, you can find the foundation drilling rig to meet them. There is no one-size-fits-all drill that works for all types of drilling and all site conditions.
You want to determine the specifics of the job you need to get done. The diameter and depths of the holes, the type of soil, and the features of the site must be known.
Are you working on rough terrain? Is the job in the heart of a city where noise reduction is critical? Is it a small lot or other tight space that will require smaller, more nimble equipment? The rig you choose must be able to work within the limitations of the job site.
An autonomous crawler drilling rig does not need additional equipment or a separate power source to move around the job site. Truck-mounted and trailer-mounted foundation drilling rigs need to be powered by a generator or by the truck that’s moving them about.
An important part of any foundation drilling rig is the stability of the platform. The amount of ground pressure the rig exerts matters. It impacts how large the platform must be. So, the size of the construction site can limit the weight of the rig you can buy. The manufacturer will tell you how much pressure their rig exerts. Lighter weight models, such as Commachio’s MC 3, can provide plenty of power and still squeeze through areas as narrow as 9mm.
The rig should be placed on level and firm ground. The area must graded to support the rig per the manufacturer’s specifications. Crane mats can be used to support the platform. They are typically made from 12″ thick timbers and are available in lengths from 8- to 40-feet. Widths of 4, 5, or 6 feet are available. The Crane Mat Company also offers custom mats and used mats that have been returned through their buyback program. You can also rent crane mats. Bridgewell makes all-steel Mammoth Mats for multi-million pound rigs.
On Special Occasions
Some jobs require custom features that you won’t be able to use for other projects. If possible, select a standard foundation drilling rig and add attachments that will meet the requirements of a particular job. You want the rig you select to have the broadest use possible.
Cutting Technology or Old School?
Fancy color screens, automatic placement, and torque technology are terrific. But you may not need them to complete a project. The training required to use the features of high-tech equipment also adds to the project timeline and budget. Sometimes a foundation drilling rig that is less high-tech with a longer track record is a lower-risk – and lower cost – solution.
It is natural to think of price first. But, resist the urge. Figure out what your requirements are for the job. You should have two lists – hard requirements and “soft” requirements. (Soft requirements are nice-to-have features that are not necessary to get the work done.) Present this information to at least three vendors and let them advise which foundation drilling rigs are best based on these requirements. Considerations can also be made for ongoing maintenance costs, reliability as well as flexibility.
The most important aspect of selecting a foundation drilling rig is understanding what you really need to get the job done. Take the time to meet with a sales engineer and other experts to clearly define the project requirements. Find a few models that will meet your needs then shop around.
Woltman 160 DR
Liebherr LB 28-320
Tips for Inspecting a Foundation Drilling Rig
Inspecting your foundation drilling rig is critical for job safety. In addition to keeping workers and the public safe, you want to protect your investment. The rig should be inspected prior to using it – every time. You will be checking parts of the rig big and small. This includes braking systems, Kelly bars, hydraulic systems, wire ropes, safety features, and anything else recommended in the manufacturer’s documentation.
This may seem obvious, but you really need someone experienced in inspecting drilling rigs to do the inspection. A checklist is helpful. Some jobs require documentation to be filed as proof that the inspection was completed. In any case, an inspection logbook should be kept inside the rig.
Check for wear and tear to the brakes. Ensure brake fluid levels are adequate. Wheel-mounted rigs have three braking systems: Service, secondary, and parking. The parking braking system should be able to keep the rig stationary on the steepest slope it is built to operate on.
Kelly bars should be inspected outside of their housing. Adapters, flanges, stops, torque lugs or rails should not be worn out or damaged. Check the torque of the Kelly retainer clamp bolts. Also inspect them for wear and tear.
Wear gloves and use a piece of cardboard or wood to check for leaks in the hydraulic system. Check the hydraulic level indicators.
Grease is the lifeblood of the foundation drilling rig. Before greasing lubrication points, first clean out the dirt and old grease.
Make sure the warning signal (audible and or visual) automatically functions when the rig is in reverse. Any warning signs should be clearly visible. Warning devices are not always a replacement of a spotter when moving the rigs.
Wire ropes should be reeved properly on the sheave and in good condition. Inspect for kinking or unstranding, corrosion, heat damage, etc.
Detailed manuals from the manufacturer should be stored in the rig so they are readily available when needed. Complete the specific inspections recommended by the manufacturer.
Inspections are more often successful when regular maintenance is done on your foundation drilling rig. The most important maintenance involves keeping the parts of the rig clean. Keep your inspection records up-to-date and ensure any needed repairs are completed before the rig is used on the job.
Bay Shore TR40
What Should a Foundation Drilling Rig Cost?
All that power doesn’t come cheap. But the right foundation drilling rig gets the job done faster and more accurately – saving money and headaches down the road. Part of the cost is the amount of automation offered. For example, the Liebherr LRB-355 has a crane control system with a color display. Its hydraulic BAT rotary drive provides automatic torque adjustment. This piling and drilling rig generally runs around [PRICE].
Soilmec’s innovative SR-125 in the Kelly configuration costs about $2,200,000, depending on the type of Kelly bar you choose.
Other cost factors include how quickly the rig can be assembled and how nimble it is. Noise reduction features can up the price.
CZM’s EK200LS Cased CFA may fit the bill. These state-of-the-art rigs are estimated at $1,750,000. CFA is also used for residential projects, such as building a home on the California coastline.
Foundation Drilling Rigs for Tight Spaces
There are several scenarios where your equipment just won’t have a lot of swinging room. Bay Shore System’s LAD Series may be the right solution. Their small foundation drilling rigs have attachment heights down to 6 feet 6 inches. Yet, they can drill down to 70 feet. They also have a wide torque range to handle tough soil. A LAD series foundation drilling rig will cost about [PRICE.]
Used Foundation Drilling Rigs
Another option is to buy a used foundation drilling rig. Of course, there’s risk involved, but the savings are huge. For example, a 2007 AD 150 Crawler Drill is currently listed with an asking price of $200K. Of course, finding attachments and spare parts is always a challenge with an older rig. Just like used cars, however, you can buy higher quality used foundation drilling rigs from reputable dealers. You should also consider whether a company provides service in your local area. This could make it easier to find parts.
There are some interesting and innovative foundation drilling rig designs. Watson’s 4300 has a top-applied Kelly crowd system that eliminates the need for a rotary / bar locking system. Their claim is that wear and tear on the rotary from crowd forces is eliminated and that the rig drills straighter holes. All at a cost of about $1,200,000.
Research First, Price Later
Don’t select your foundation drilling rig on price alone. In fact, don’t consider price at all when you start your research. Gather your hard requirements and optional requirements and let vendors tell you what rigs will meet them. Then put it out for bid. Ask if there is a “certified used” option available. You may do better buying a stripped-down model and purchasing the attachments you need for the job. Spend the time to educate yourself on the right drilling method for the job. Then identify any restraints, such as noise level and height restrictions, before you start shopping for foundation drilling rigs. Knowledge is power and savings.
Bauer BG 15 H
Foundation Drilling Rig Tooling & Attachments
There are many different types of foundation drilling rig attachments to meet any job. Here are some popular attachments from top vendors.
Champion Equipment fabricates various styles of drilling buckets, one being the pitched bottom bucket. The bucket bottom is heat pressed into its unique shape which allows for larger openings and smoother material flow into the bucket. These buckets are sold in diameters from 1 foot to in excess of 16 foot and can be equipped with both manual and automatic dumping systems.
Jeffrey Machine specializes in augers they call laminates. Their augers are available in diameters from 6-inches to over 12-feet. Jeffrey Machine has a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Alabama. They claim a huge inventory of off-the-shelf products. But, they can custom build drilling tools using customer or JMI prints. They may even be able to get your specs over the phone.
Bay Shore Systems’ LoDril® drilling attachment has 360 degrees of operating area. It can reach up to 15 feet beyond the tracks or above casing. Perfect for foundation drilling in challenging environments like tight areas or sloping terrain. There are six sizes available, starting at just seven feet high.
Numa designs and manufactures rock drilling hammers and bits for vertical and horizontal applications. Their U.S. made Down-the-Hole and HDD hammers and bits can drill holes from 3.5 inches to 50.5 inches (89mm-1283mm). Built specifically for longevity and penetration rate, Numa’s rock drilling equipment drills at high frequency and require less air. Even against high heads of water.
TEI manufactures a lightweight drill attachment for 5- to 8-ton mini excavators that’s a good solution for limited access areas. The standard version has one 360-degree positioner and a single hydraulic clamp on the drill feed. It includes radio remote controls with a manual override. You can add a second 360-degree positioner for unlimited positioning capabilities.
Armador offers many foundation drilling rig attachments. Their core barrels are made of special steel alloys. They claim that their welding techniques increase the life cycle of the product. They have off-the-shelf standard core barrels, but offer customized versions including kelly boxes in any size or shape to conform to your drilling rig. Armador’s standard core barrel models are KOS Series (round shank picks) and the KOB Series (weld-on bars core barrel with trap).
Most of these vendors can manufacture custom or semi-custom foundation drilling rig attachments. Some offer used inventory. The array of choices can be dizzying. Work with the vendors to understand what attachments are really needed for your foundation drilling rig.
Champion Equipment Attachment
Jeffrey Machine Attachment
PILE BUCK’S TOP RECOMMENDED FOUNDATION DRILLING RIGS
The EK160 is engineered in response to customer demands for a machine with the power of a larger model and the ease of greater mobility- it can be transported in one load. It is available in standard and short masts and has transport weights of 100,000lbs/91,000lbs with the Kelly bar. Built on a CAT 330F base with an installed 242 horsepower, the EK160 delivers an impressive maximum effective torque force of 151,100lbs. It has all set up functions inside the cabin and it can be drilling minutes after unloading from the truck. It also has automatic operator assistance features, like mast auto level, return to center, high spin off, auto gear shifting for rotary and main winch, drill lock and telematics. This machine has excellent stability due to hydraulic extendable crawlers, additional counterweight and a mast manufactured in “Weldox” steel (light weight – high yield strength) and has a max drilling diameter of 11ft.
Standard chassis: CAT330 Next Gen
Application: Kelly Bar
Installed power: 275 hp
Maximum nominal torque: 134,300 lbf.ft
Main winch nominal pull line: 41,000 lbf
Crowd force: 44,200 lbf
Maximum depth: 120 ft
Maximum diameter: 10 ft
Minimum transport weight (w/ Kelly 4/120 ft): 105,000 lb
The SR-125 is one of the newest rigs in the large diameter piling category. Part of the High Technology Line, whose main driver is the multifunctionality, SR-125 has been designed for bored piles with kelly bar and CFA, but can be easily converted to perform the majority of piling and soil consolidation techniques, to improve productivity and operating flexibility to higher degrees.
The SR-125 is fitted with the latest masts and rotaries from Soilmec, reducing overall weight, while adding increased strength, torque, and pull-up capacity. SR-125 is a major upgrade compared to previous generations. The H-cab has been designed to offer the operator maximum comfort and the complete control and monitoring over the rig and technological parameters with the DMS 12” touchscreen. Like all Soilmec rigs, the SR-125 is self-assembling, versatile, and easily transportable.
Weight: 281,310 lb
Power: 630 hp
Torque: 303,133 lb-ft
Extraction: 121,395 lbf
Max diam.: 138 in (or 157 with special kit)
Max depth: 395 ft
DMS: 12” standard (DMS PC and Manager 4.0 available)
The LB 44-510 drilling rig is the most powerful representative of the well-known LB series from Liebherr. Besides the common Kelly drilling other methods like continuous flight auger drilling, drilling with full displacement tools or double rotary drilling can be applied. The heavy-duty machine with an enormous torque of 510 kNm is very compact in design which guarantees a cost effective transportation and fast mobilization on site. The rig is equipped with a powerful diesel engine which convinces through low consumption and reduced emissions. In combination with the board hydraulics and the operator-friendly rotary drive the LB 44-510 is designed for continuous operation and very fast drilling cycles.
Operating weight: 155.0 t
Max. torque: 510 kNm
Max. winch line pull: 500 kN
Max. crowd force: 560 kN
Engine power: 505 kW
Kelly drilling, max. drilling depth: 94.2 m
Kelly drilling, max. drilling diameter: 3,000 mm
Continuous flight auger drilling, max. drilling depth: 30.0 m
Continuous flight auger drilling, max. drilling diameter: 1,400 mm
Full displacement drilling, max. drilling depth: 30.0 m
Full displacement drilling, max. drilling diameter: 600 mm
Double rotary drilling, max. drilling depth: 23.0 m
Double rotary drilling, max. drilling diameter: 900 mm
Min. transport width: 3,480 mm
Min. transport height: 3,390 mm
The BAUER BG 28 H has traditionally been one of the best sellers in the BG lineup. Like all PremiumLine rigs, it is capable of a wide range of applications including Kelly drilling, CFA, FDP, Front of Wall (FoW), CCFA, Single Column Mixing (SCM), Vibro Displacement (VD), Low Headroom, and jet grouting with its ability to accommodate various tools and attachments. The BG 28 H features BAUER’s award-winning B-Tronic System – a one-of-a-kind feature that allows the operator to view parameters including torque, pump pressure, and drilling depths in even the most challenging operating conditions. It also includes several driller assistance systems like Kelly Visualization, which displays the locking recesses resulting in increased drilling performance and significantly reduced wear on the Kelly bar and drive keys. The environmentally friendly Energy Efficient Power (EEP) system reduces fuel consumption by up to 30 percent while noticeably reducing drilling noise levels. The remote control of the BG 28 H enables fast unloading and rigging; and like all BAUER H-Model rigs, the kinematics enable the quick change of working positions to accommodate tramming under low clearance areas.
Drilling Diameter: 2,500 mm
Drilling Depth: 65.7 m
Torque: 277 kNm
Engine Power: 354 kW
Height: 24.9 m
Junttan MPx90, the largest member of the Junttan product family, is a multipurpose drilling rig for heavy-duty working. This versatile deep foundation machine can be equipped with displacement, CFA or driven pile methods. The MPx90 is optimal with Junttan JD45 rotary head, delivering a max torque of 450 kNm. With optional Junttan equipment, optimized working set-up of the rig can be easily achieved. Along with the other excellent features, the MPx90 is able to provide easy transportation, exceptional stability, operational safety, environmental focus, and above all, high productivity.
Average working weight (Displacement): 286,601 lb (130 000 kg)
Average working weight (CFA): 286,601 lb (130 000 kg)
JD45 rotary head: max torque 331,900 ft-lb (450 kNm)
Extraction force: 269,771 lb (1,200 kN)
Max crowd force: 134,800 lb (600 kN)
Engine power: 675 hp (503 kW)
Max drilling depth (Displacement): 131 ft (40 m)
Max drilling diameter (Displacement): 24 in (610 mm)
Max drilling depth (CFA): 125 ft (38 m)
Max drilling diameter (CFA): 47 in (1,200 mm)
Undercarriage: Length 249 in (6,325 mm)
Undercarriage: Width 137-197 in (3,470-5,010 mm)
Woltman drilling rigs are designed and manufactured for the performance of a large range of drilled piles, with high torque leaders. In addition, Woltman drilling rigs are multipurpose and can be equipped in almost any configuration when it comes to pile driving, drilling, or ground improvement. The Woltman drilling rigs are equipped with a powerful engine combined with a spacially designed hydraulic system to power the rotary head directly saving the need for a separate power pack. Woltman drilling rigs have a very high mobility and can be mobilized and erected in a very short time increasing cost effectiveness. The rigs are excellent for use in urban areas and job sites with difficult access.
Standard leader length: 98.4 ft
Max. leader length: 128 ft
Max. weight for rotary + auger: 66,139 lbs
Max. torque: 361,554 ft-lbs
Max. drill depth: 108.27 ft
Max. pull up: 220,460 lbs
Max. pull down: 33,069 lbs
Capacity of aux. winch: 13,228 lbs
Diesel engine: CAT C18 Tier 4F
Engine output: 755 hp
Operational width: 15.7 ft
Transport width: 11.5 ft
Operational weight incl. rotary: 216,051 lbs
Recommended rotary head: PVE RH-45
The LōDril is a versatile, powerful excavator-mounted foundation drill for traditional and extreme jobs. Its telescoping kelly bars allow you to drill to depths of 90 feet (27 meters) under severe overhead restrictions with a very low profile attachment—even in the most unfriendly conditions.
We’ll build your LōDril to the specific requirements of your job—but it’ll take you far beyond that. 99 percent of LōDrils are still in use today, including the first one we rolled out in 1991! Whether you purchase a new excavator or mount it on an existing one in your fleet, your LōDril will be engineered for the base machine that makes the most sense for you.
Rotary torque (max): 15,000 ft-lbs
Kelly winch line pull (first layer, max): 8,000 lbs
Hole diameter: 36 in
Drill speed range (LHS): 30/60/100 rpm
Hole depth (max: 80 ft
Attachment height: 9-21 ft
Excavator weight class x 1000: 16-35 lbs
TEI Rock Drills is an industry leader in the manufacture of rock drill excavator attachments, limited access drill rigs, safety equipment, and associated components. All TEI products are created by in-house engineers, uniquely patented, and manufactured in our ISO Certified facility. TEI equipment is proudly made in the US with American made parts to ensure quality, efficiency, and up-to-the-minute innovation.
State-of-the-art German engineering since 1790 combined with energy-efficient power (EEP): meet the BAUER BG 23. Designed to meet your specific needs for multiple applications – from Kelly drilling to SCM – this versatile rig is part of the field-tested BAUER BG-GB line, which is delivering quality and performance on the most challenging jobsites all around the world. If you are looking for the highest safety standards, environmentally-conscious efficiency, and lasting reliability, the BG 23 is the solution that you can count on.
The drilling rig KR 807-7G represents the consequent further development in the KR 807 model series that conforms to the exhaust emission standards EEC 4 / EPA TIER 4f. With a rated power output of 245 kW, the KR 807-7GP is the most powerful offering available from the KLEMM Bohrtechnik GmbH portfolio.
Service weight: 26,5 t
KR 807-7G 180 kW***
KR 807-7GP 245 kW***
Main hydraulic circuits:
2 x 270 l/min (load-sensing)
1 x 30 l/min (constant)
1 x 20 l/min (constant)
1 x 30 l/min (constant) – option
2 x 270 l/min (load-sensing)
1 x 60 l/min (constant)
1 x 20 l/min (constant)
1 x 30 l/min (constant)
1 x 120 l/min (load-sensing)
The Comacchio CH 450 is designed to cover a wide range of applications including cased or uncased bored piles, continuous flight auger (CFA), micropiles, displacement piles an soil mixing. The machine is completely self-erecting, and can be transported in one load with the Kelly bar mounted. Once in place, the machine is easily offloaded from the truck, and set up for operation does not require a crane. The CH 450 can be supplied in CPD (cylinder pulldown) WPD (winch pulldown) and LHR (low head room) versions. This rig is the winning solution for job sites that require quick operation and minimal transportation costs.
Mast height (LHR): 30’
mast height (WPD): 65’ 3”
Stroke (WPD): 47’ 6”
Operating weight (WPD): 98,800 lbs
Max pile depth (WPD): 165’
Max torque: 121,700 ft. lbs.