A helical pile is a slim deep-foundation underpinning that consists of a steel shaft surrounded by screw-like helical plates or flights. The pile is twisted into the ground and combines the load-bearing capabilities of skin friction on the shaft and end-bearing on the helix plates.
How Helical Piles Save Money
The cost-saving benefits of helical piles are evident as early as the bidding process. For instance, with satisfactory soils information, contractors can offer precise lump-sum bids, regardless of the helical foundations’ length.
Those proposals are often as competitive as they are accurate, thanks to simpler and safer installation methods. For instance, utilizing helical piles allows contractors to:
1. Lower mobilization costs.
While more conventional piles require special installation equipment, helical piles can be rapidly installed using smaller equipment, such as track excavators and mini-excavators. Contractors can respond quickly and move about the site more efficiently, as well as save on the costs of installation equipment.
2. Increase productivity
On average, a single operator and single laborer can install as many as 30 to 40 helical piles a day, depending on the project. That means at an installation rate of 6-10 rpm, a pile needs just 30 seconds to travel 1 foot into the ground and five minutes to go 10 feet. Lower direct labor costs mean significantly increased productivity and a more cost-effective installation process overall.
3. Work through adverse weather
Helical piles require smaller installation crews and more maneuverable equipment than other foundations; therefore, the installation process is more tolerant to weather conditions and poor/swampy ground. Contractors can even install helical piles in subzero temperatures without significant loss to productivity. The lighter-weight machines reduce environmental impact and save costs on cleanup.
Due to the higher material costs, helical piles may not seem like the best option for those on a tight budget. However, the cost-saving benefits they provide down the road often make them the most cost-effective solution, especially for projects on less-than-perfect ground or in volatile weather areas.