Cut Pile With One Man And One Machine
The pile driving industry can claim a new machine that performs two, historically dangerous and expensive tasks in one operation and with one operator. The logging industry has long used a single machine, called a feller buncher, to cut down the tree and bunch trees together for skidding in one operation and with one operator. Now, cutting piles can be done by a single machine.
The new machine cuts the pile and sets the excess cut pile aside. One operator runs the equipment. Depending on the pile type and size, one operator on one machine can cut anywhere from more than 400 wood piles or 200 14-inch concrete pile in an average 10-hour shift.
Traditionally, a crew of 15 to 20 people representing several different trades and multiple pieces of equipment would be needed on site to cut piles and maintain the project on schedule. It would take one person in the muddy environment at the base of the pile with a hand-held saw blade spinning at up to 5,000 revolutions per minutes and an excavator or crane with an operator to hold the excess cut piece overhead.
The cutting of pile presented numerous safety hazards, too. The person on the ground was at the most risk because of the unsure footing, hand-held saw and overhead equipment which held the excess piece during the cutting and then swing it away to set it aside.These hazards are eliminated with the new Pile Cutting Machine (PCM) from Aggregate Technologies, Houston, TX.
The patented PCM is a Gradall trackmounted excavator modified to cut piles. The machine grabs the pile with a grapple, then the operator engages the saw, after the pile is cut the operator swings the boom of the machine to set aside the excess cut pile.
This PCM technology has a telescopic boom with an articulating head where the saw and grapple are mounted. The equipment operator is a minimum of 12 feet from the pile while the piles are being cut.
The machines are fully selfcontained and do not need the assistance of an excavator or crane. Each can carry up to 300 gallons of water which is usually sufficient for about 10 hours of cutting.
The PCM works in most conditions.
The cabs are climate controlled, thus, reducing the occurrence of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Plus, the PCM machines are on tracks, making work in muddy conditions a non-issue.
The PCM needs eight to 10 inches of clearance from grade to the cut line; thus, eliminating the labor to dig out an extra two to three feet to be able to access the area with a handsaw.
PCM technology is ONE MAN, ONE MACHINE. The production is unmatched. Currently ATI is working on a project where in an average 10 hour day, 150 to 200, 14-inch concrete piles and 80 to 100, 18-inch concrete piles will be cut. It takes just a few minutes to cut most concrete piles.These machines are capable of cutting in excess of 400 wood piles per day.Production does vary due to the size and strength of the pile, but, hands down, this is the safest method of cutting piles that exists today. steel piles, like the others, vary in size and thickness. However, the same production rate as concrete piles can be realized.
Another attribute of PCM technology is the speed and accuracy with which the piles are cut. PCM can cut through a 16-inch, heavy-wall pipe in less than five minutes!
The byproduct of these machines is production and cost savings. The selling point is SAFETY. Every person on every jobsite is an opportunity for an accident; it’s a numbers thing.
Rather than 20 people working during the pile cutting phase, only one is needed to accomplish the same amount of work with PCM. Normally, if an accident did happen while cutting piles, it happened next to the pile during the operation of the handsaw. The handsaws bind up and kick back causing serious injury. With a PCM machine, no one is near the pile and the machine operator is away from danger.
Cutting pile with PCM works like this:
. Contractor marks the cut line on each pile.
. Operator moves the PCM into place, grabs the pile with the self-adjusting grapple and engages the saw blade.
. Accuracy is within 3/8 of an inch …. Sometimes there will be multiple cuts on one pile due to the weight of the pile. For instance, …. Depending on the size and distance from the pile, it may need to be cut twice.
. This is to prevent overloading of the machine and reduce tipping. The ranges vary due to how far the boom is extended.
. Different size piles are not an issue. Change to a bigger or smaller blade.
. Grapple is self-adjusting. The operator moves the controllers to reach out and grab the pile.
. Process is pretty simple: …. Hold the pile firmly.
. Cut it.
. Set the cut piece aside to be recycled (on site in most cases).
More and more engineers are designing concrete piles to be made with tubes inside for uplift bars to be installed when driven to grade, or, after being cut. When a pile hits refusal, the excess must be cut.
There are many ways to cut pile.Hand sawing is unsafe and costly.Crushing is costly and lessens the integrity of the pile. Chipping is dangerous but sometimes necessary if the rebar needs to be exposed for tie-ins.
All of the traditional ways take several people to complete the process.
It should be an easy decision to choose PCM technology:
. Accuracy and speed of cutting the pile.
. Mitigating risk factors and improved safety.
. Reduced liability for better control of project timeline.
Every job is different and requires some testing to find the right blade for the particular pile whether it be concrete, wood, or steel. It is a science to find the right formula for each pilecutting project.
ATI works closely with top metallurgists, engineers and blade manufacturers to find the correct attribute for each project. Diamond technology is common on most ATI pile cutting projects.
Ronnie Wills, president of ATI, recalls the first project he did with the pile machine back in 2008. “There were at least 20 people cutting piles using handsaws and wall saws on this particular project. They were working for two or three different companies, behind schedule and not keeping up with the production of the pile driving company.
“I got a call to bring the new machine out to the jobsite. Our machine started cutting 14-inch concrete piles with just an operator and a machine.By the third or fourth day, the other companies were sent home.
“We finished that job and ended up cutting over 10,000 piles with just one guy and one machine. We currently, and have been for the last 14 months, keeping up with five pile driving rigs, driving 30 pile each per day. We have cut tens of thousands of piles and never had an accident.”
Just recently, a project manager for one of the oldest pile driving contractors said, “I don’t know why you would cut piles any other way!”
“Everyone who sees this machine knows that this is the future of pile cutting,” said Tex Leggio, business development for ATI. “We can do a job safer, save our clients money and get at least five times the production than the old methods. ATI has made these jobs safer, more cost effective and at the same time faster than ever before. Cutting piles by hand is just too dangerous, so we changed that!”
Aggregate Technologies is a concrete saw cutting and demo company that provides a number of services such as, slab sawing, wall sawing, core drilling, selective demotion, GPR scanning, wire sawing and pile cutting.
ATI is available to work worldwide. Ronnie Wills, president of ATI, filed for his PCM patent in late 2007 and received the patent in October, 2012.
For more information regarding any ATI service and to see videos of the pile cutting machines in action, please visit their website,www.aggregateTechnologies.com.
Look for ATI at the PDCA 18th Annual International Conference and Expo 2014 in Saint Louis. ATI will be sending updates to Pile Buck so read our blog to stay up to date with this new technology and other news worthy stories.
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