The variety of drill rigs used in construction and pile driving applications has dramatically increased since the first steam driven pile driver in the 1800s. The first major task in most any construction project is the establishment of a sound and secure foundation on which the project will rest, be it a bridge a building or a pipeline. Various soil types of clay, sand, and silt, as well as a litany of rock types and, in Alaska, ice result in the need for powerful machinery to drill into, or vibrate VSM (vertical support members) or pile into the ground.
Drill rigs, such as the ABI Mobil Ram rigs utilized by North Star Equipment Services, differ from pile drivers by the nature that they penetrate the earth. Drill rigs are often utilized in circumstances where the utilization of traditional pile driving equipment poses a threat or an inconvenience to the surroundings environment, where larger machinery is impractical, or where the removal of soil may not be desired, or where wet holes may be a factor; among other reasons.
The advent of the vibratory pile driver was a revolutionary step forward in the development of foundation construction and VSM installations on the North Slope. When the machine is in action the vibration extends through the pile and into the earth. The action of the intense vibrations creates friction which results in the earth becoming almost “liquefied”, creating a natural slurry and eventually causing ad freeze. This allows the pile to be inserted into the ground with the aid of gravity and downward pressure. Since the machine has 100% control of the pile tight survey tolerances are achievable.
Many construction projects in Alaska, such as those that include renovation to an existing building or behind well-houses on drill sites on the North Slope, sometimes present access challenges where larger drill rigs or equipment are not able to access. Compact drill, Pile Driving rigs such as the ABI can navigate through narrow passageways and maneuver nimbly throughout the job site to achieve the desired goals.