As we thoroughly explained in our Ultimate Guide To Sheet Piling, using sheet piles is one of the best ways for retaining walls, building foundations for underground structures, protect riverbanks, and so on. In this article, we are going to talk about some of the sheet piling aspects and secrets that are less talked about. Keep along with us!
So let’s take a look at sheet piling wonders is actually the main reason and the ability to make a wall and drives the wall into the ground with integrity.
The interlocked sheet piles are solid materials most commonly made of steel that form a wall for permanent or temporary lateral earth support with reduced groundwater inflow. It can also be formed of timber or reinforced concrete.
In another word, it is an integral wall, which is held together with steel interlocks. Steel sheet piles can serve a purpose as permanent and temporary. Therefore, they are usually used for retaining walls, land reclamation, underground structures, riverbank protection, seawalls, etc.
A lot of people drive along and wonder how someone put that pier in the middle of that river. Well, the contractors built a steel box with steel sheet piles. They pump the water out; they went in there drove the piling and built that concrete structure to hold the bridge.
So, as you can see steel sheet pile plays an important part both in temporary situations for construction and in permanent positions.
Years ago, there were just three or four types of sheet piles and only three or four manufacturers. Now, every manufacturer could have 20 or even 30 different types and there are a lot of varieties in shape, section, strength, and interlock. It is a very diversified type of steel in this day and age.
Some of the most common types of sheet piles are as follows:
Choosing the right sheet pile for your projects depend on many factors such as:
Well, you have to use new permanent sheet piles if the owner wants them. So, the engineers and the owners determine what they want to buy.
If it is a private project and it is not a government one, many owners can see that used sheet piles can be just as functional. Therefore, they would buy a used one. In other words, used sheet piles are more useful on private projects.
Yes, there are some companies, which just rent sheet piles out. If you own a sheet pile and you are a contractor and you have got a whole amazing 300 tons of 30 feet long pile, what is going to inevitably happen is the next time you have a job you are going to need a 40-foot pile.
In some ways, it does not even make sense to own a pile and it makes more sense to rent what you need and then send it back.
It is a very common sense approach to steel sheet piles, and the buyer needs to know how old it is. It only knows one thing, what condition is it in. It can be a year old and all torn up; it can be 20 years old and in really perfect condition. The common sense part of it is you look at it and if it is straight and if its interlocks are clean, it probably is good.
You can get a little bit more technical and you could cut a piece of a pile off another pile, you could run it through the interlocks to check if they are adequate for the pile to thread together.
Basically, it is a visual thing. Most piles have to be trimmed and reconditioned and cleaned; and if it is done correctly, any common sense person could look at it and say, yeah that is straight, clean, trimmed and I think the is drivable.
You may ask if is there something that you have to do in storage to help maintain the sheet piles. What about its life as if it is going to be laying around or how does that work?
The answer is, steel sheet piles whether it is a yard being stored or it is on the job, most of the expenses are about their handling.
You just cannot find gorillas big enough to pick up a sheet of sheet pile and put it somewhere. It means that you need special equipment and also you need an operator working with them.
If you have an operator, you need the space to put it. If you put it into your yard and forget about it, and come back two years later, you cannot find it. Because the weeds have grown up all around it.
Then you should store it in such a way that, it is loadable. So, the forklift can come in, pick it up and put it on the truck. There are a lot of small, little, and again common ways, which help you to be aware of to handle sheet valves correctly.
The cold-formed came out in the early 80s and there were a lot of people who thought that could not work as its interlock was different. However, basically, that difference is there, and it really is only there to make integrity in the sheets to make an integral wall.
Cold-formed is just as good or even better than hot-rolled. The only difference is the interlock. The interlock on cold-formed piling appears different when you see it in different pictures. It looks like a little Mickey Mouse! However, in reality, it fits together and will not come apart.
It does the job that it is supposed to do and that is to provide an integral wall by joining two pieces together. So, you have got water that cannot come in, soil that cannot come in and the big difference is interlock.
Very rarely do people say that the hot-rolled has a tighter interlock. Okay, that is true! If you need more tightness, in this day, you can buy a solvent or a sealer and you can run that through the interlock with a little electric caulking gun; and the cost is very low.
So, there is no excuse to say hot-rolled is tighter and I have got to have a hot-rolled sheet pile. That is stupid! Buy a sealer! It is still probably cheaper.
Now a day, there are many more sections in industry. The hot-rolled manufacturers do not have a monopoly on the market anymore. Therefore, to be competitive, they make deeper and wider sections.
They have had a lot of competition from the cold-formed to the fact that cold-formed was able to design a greater variety of sections. So, competition always spawns growth within the industry.
So now, all manufacturers have a variety and instead of selling you the one-time products, they got a whole basket that they can sell you and find one that is better for your application based on the strength you need, the width you need, the driving time and all the other factors. Because there is a variety of sheets.
Some years ago, every manufacturer had maybe six different types of sheets. Now, one manufacturer can have 20 different types of sheets.
Sheet piling installation equipment has changed considerably through the last decades. Some are better and some are worse!
In the old days, when they drove pile they normally drove it with an impact hammer and if you did not drive it properly, you had to extract it with a reverse impact hammer that was pounding up to get it back out.
So, you really were going to be very careful and you did all kinds of things to make sure you installed it right. You might stick the whole wall for a hundred feet. You would not drive it down all at one time and you could drive it down the stages.
You had keyed sections that were a little bit deeper than the other sections. Because you could not really adjust for errors! You had to be right! In fact, that was good construction practice.
Today, contractors have become a little sloppy because now the tool you use to install sheet piles is called a vibratory and it does not impact the sheets. It vibrates them in the ground and at the same time, you can put the line pull on the crane and vibrate them out of the ground.
So, where someone would be really careful 40 years ago, now they take the first one and they drive it straight and they start driving and maybe they get off a little bit. Well. They will just drive them back again and reset it and do a few things.
Modern practices have actually interfered with the precision, accuracy, the plumpness, and quality of driving sheet piles. This is as good today as it was 40 years ago only because the tools are so much easier to use and allow you a few mistakes and you can correct them.
The answer is there is none! Actually, price is the only factor as generally imported sheets are cheaper. There are millions of dollars in core projects every year.
So, the hot-rolled manufacturers of steel sheet piles in the country have the advantage and the luxury of they have no competition outside of themselves.
Years ago, a freighter would leave its location let’s say in England and it did not have a schedule. The shipment might go to Brazil and then it would go to Miami and then go somewhere else.
Nowadays, everything is on schedule. The ship leaves Luxembourg; it would be in New York four and a half days later and it is in Miami six days later.
So, everything is on schedule and you have container shipments now where if the material is less than 50 or 40 feet, you can put it in the container. They have streamlined the ability to logistically move stuff from one place to another.
So, you can really count on shipments in advance anymore because everything is so accurate as far as timing. And there is no such thing as putting on a freighter and not knowing where that freighter is going to go.
Therefore, there is no such an advantage as shorter lead time or delivery time for local or domestic sheets as the importation process is also fast, accurate, and scheduled.
Here, we shared tips and secrets, which help you to buy the right kind of sheet pile in an adequate time and do your foundation job as perfectly as possible. In case, you have any comments or questions do not hesitate to ask us. Good luck!