Pile drivers are used widely in construction and have been for many years, though no-one seems to know when they were actually invented, or who by. Inventors James Nasmyth, James Voule and Count Giovan Battista Gazzola and even Leonardo da Vinci have been credited with conceiving pile driver, though the point is still argued among those who are passionate about these powerful pieces of piling machinery. It is agreed that the modern device stems from the 19th century steam powered pile driver designed by American Otis Tuft.
For those less familiar with this equipment we will take a quick look at what pile drivers are, what they are used for, and then we can look at the best way to acquire such devices, if they are suitable for your projects.
What are Pile Drivers?
In essence, a pile driver is a piece of machinery that drives piles (poles) into the ground. The earliest pile drivers used just a guided weight that came down on a pile, driving it into the ground. There are many varieties of pile driver available, such as the following:
Types of Pile Drivers
- Diesel hammer – This variety uses a piston weight and cylinder, which drops the piston, triggers the release and combustion of diesel fuel which in turn drives the piston back up to start the process again.
- Hydraulic hammer – This machine works in a very similar way to the traditional diesel hammer but it is more environmentally friendly and less noisy, which are both attractive benefits in the modern age of construction, especially in urban areas.
- Hydraulic press in – The hydraulic press-in is a popular alternative where the vibrations caused by other kinds of pile drivers must be avoided. This device is used often to drive steel pipes in large construction projects.
- Vibratory pile driver – This device must be installed to a site by crane and it is used for driving or the extraction of materials. Vertical travel lead systems are often used in bridge construction.
- Piling rig – A piling rig is very widely used in construction and civil engineering and used for making foundations.
How to Source Pile Drivers
Of course pile drivers of all varieties can be purchased, and this makes sense if this is essential equipment for your work, and equipment that you will use regularly. A pile driver is a serious investment, but if you will use it often then it will be worth it.
Another alternative is to hire a pile driver, and again, there are various devices available for short term and longer term hire, from firms such as Piletec. Hiring this equipment could make sense if you need a pile driver just once in a while, or perhaps for a one-off project. Consider your needs and your working budget and the best option should be obvious.