It’s a difficult decision: should I repair the broken machine in my factory or replace it? It really needs to be replaced, but I can’t afford the downtime. Besides, I don’t want to mess with the entire foundation or damage any of the other machines around it. Read on to find out how micropiles are the solution!
Our goal at TEI is to utilize new technologies to create stronger, safer foundations worldwide – including our own. At our 28,000 square foot facility in beautiful Montrose, Colorado, our process is ISO 9001:2015 certified and we do everything by the book – except think. When it comes to thinking, brainstorming, coming up with innovative ideas, we throw the book away completely. Our engineers are continually finding creative and efficient new ways to solve old problems.
TEI rock drills are highly regarded and sought-after all over the world for a variety of complex and interesting projects. Brokk’s demolition robots fitted with our TE160 hydraulic drifters help to reduce operator fatigue and allow access to tightly confined spaces, for example. Our equipment has been used to install ground loops for geothermal heat pumps, and for various applications by the US Military. TEI rock drills were used in the creation of the Solana Solar Generation Plant in Arizona, the Panama Canal expansion project, and the ongoing construction of Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota. Not to mention thousands of road construction, building construction, demolition, tunneling, mining, and rock quarry projects from Canada to New Zealand since we built our first drill in 1980.
But what does a company like TEI do when we need to work on our own foundation? Who doctors the doctor? Who teaches the teacher?
A few years ago, when a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine in our factory needed to be replaced, we knew the best way to ensure a solid foundation was by using our own equipment to install micropiles. It worked so well that we’ve done it five times since, and plan on doing so again.
We rely on CNC machines, such as milling machines and lathes, to accurately and efficiently assist in creating our powerful precision drills. These machines can weigh in excess of 30,000 pounds and are in motion much of the time – motion that can potentially vibrate the machine out of place if installed incorrectly. An unsuitable foundation is guaranteed to cause leveling and alignment issues, rapidly deteriorate spindle bearings, ball screws, and other machine parts as well as overall machine life, and contribute to final product inaccuracy.
The necessity to replace our machinery comes around often, as we upgrade our equipment quite regularly. Most recently, we purchased a CMM, or Coordinate Measuring Machine, for purposes of quality control. This big, heavy machine needs to be installed according to very exact specifications in order to ensure its accuracy. Depending on who you ask, there are a few different options for doing this in a pre-existing space.
The most widely-used option would be to completely gut the floor structure and then pour a very thick (think feet – not inches) layer of concrete. This can take a few days, and in a factory setting where time is money, this is an expensive option. You also run the risk of the concrete moving or cracking; even the smallest air pocket can lead to disaster. This is often countered with the addition of a large steel plate or several smaller ones to spread the load, but steel slides on steel and will create more problems over time.
Installing micropiles in this situation will alleviate all of these issues. It’s quick and unobtrusive. Downtime is minimal. And your foundation will last for many years without breaking down.
“Cement can move, piles will stay,” says Bob Foreman, TEI’s Service Manager. “The key is to figure out exactly where the feet of the machine will sit and put piles in those strategic locations. Then you don’t end up with a great deal of stress on just a little bit of surface of the cement.”
Micropiles – sometimes referred to as minipiles, pin piles, needle piles, and root piles – are extremely durable elements used in the construction and maintenance of deep foundations for many structures, and to prevent or control ground degradation due to normal wear-and-tear as well as disturbances such as earthquakes and landslides.
Composed of high-strength, small-diameter steel casing and/or threaded bar, rebar, and grout, micropiles can range in diameter from 3-12 inches, extend to depths of 200 feet, and achieve compressive capacities of over 500 tons depending upon the size used and the soil profile.
For the majority of building and repair projects, conditions are not ideal. Often, soil is not just soil: it’s mixed with construction debris or contains many different sizes and types of rock. Dense layers can be found over thinner, weaker layers. If other structures are close by, the ground may be unstable, or access could be limited. In these and other variable conditions, micropiles are a cost-effective solution to strengthen a deteriorating foundation or lay a new one.
There are different kinds of piles suited for specific needs. Generally, an all-thread reinforcing bar is inserted into the micropile casing and then cement grout is pumped inside while drilling. This simultaneous drilling and grouting technique, called the injection bored method, is unique in that smaller equipment can be used, often at lower cost, and access to tighter working spaces is possible.
The finished micropile enhances stability by transferring the load to more competent ground, or in rocky areas, to the rock itself. It’s much quicker and quieter than other techniques, it is completely vertical and therefore less obtrusive, and it’s adaptable to many different kinds of equipment.
“Micropiles have allowed us to place and replace our machinery without constantly having to modify our building’s foundation,” shares Glenn Patterson, TEI’s Vice President and International Sales Manager. “Different load sizes are required for the various sizes of machines used in manufacturing. Exclusively using the hollow bar injection method means we are able to design each set of piles specific to each individual machine and allows us to keep our factory operational during the installation process.”
Correct installation is every bit as critical as correct selection of machines for your factory or machine shop, whether you’re building a brand-new facility or retrofitting an old one. For a machine to perform successfully, the foundation on which it rests must be precise. There can be no compromises. As you can see, installing micropiles with TEI drills is the best way to do this.