“225,000 pounds capacity on a helical pile?” Is the sort of comment we receive when we post pictures of high capacity helical pile installations. The comments aren’t from people outside of the construction world, they are comments you might get from local engineers.

It’s time to myth bust the thought that helical piles are only good for decks. Helical piles have a long history and strong engineering pedigree, however, there aren’t many engineers in Manitoba who have taken the effort to properly study the technology. Those who have made the effort however find confidence in the technology.

Some of the most well versed in helical pile design and performance in Manitoba are employed with Manitoba Hydro. Bipole III is supported on various types of piles and included in the mix are thousands of helical piles.

Albertans are well aware of helical piles and building large structures on helical piles is common place. It’s frustrating for western companies to come to Manitoba and encounter the resistance they often will when building in a province which has made very little efforts to understand helical piles vs one with high levels of confidence in helical piles. Not only are 1,000kN (225,000lbs) helical piles common to install in Alberta, helical piles in excess of 4,000kN (1M lbs) have been designed, installed and tested successfully.

Some of the largest pipeline and energy sector utility companies in our country build regularly on helical piles. Helical piles are designed and installed to support projects where the potential liability is extremely high. Massive liquid storage tanks are a popular project for helical piles – these tanks, when filled require piles that resist very high loads and that won’t shift or heave. A pile failure for this sort of project could result in spilling of liquids which may require 10’s or 100’s of millions of dollars of remediation work and result in a massive PR nightmare if any contamination occurs.

Not just any helical pile company can install high capacity helical piles. Installing helical piles is a lot like an iceberg, it seems pretty straightforward and simple from the surface, but there is a lot coming together under the surface. A team of engineers is required since geotechnical and structural considerations must be made – projects of this type should also include on-site engineer supervision to ensure full transparency. The equipment required is also significant – a helical pile in excess of 200kN (45,000lbs) should always be installed in Manitoba with a larger excavator (17 ton +) and high torque anchor drives – our area has a lot of soft till, equipment that is too small won’t have the crowd to ensure proper penetration into till and will lack the lateral resistance to combat torque pull.

Fortunately, Manitoba no longer has to call upon Alberta based piling contractors to complete professional high capacity helical pile installations. VersaPile, Inc. has completed thousands of projects throughout Manitoba, slowly working it’s way toward ultra high capacity installations. We have always been careful to never bite off more than we can chew and to bow-out if a project exceeds our ability to deliver 100%. Our guarantee is that an engineer can visit our site at anytime and they will like what they see.

If you are tired of the precast concrete nightmare of loud, slow moving and messy project sites where cranes are on-site and in your way for way too long, we’d love to have a peak at your project and help determine if helical piles might be a reasonable alternative. No pre-drilling even in frost, weld on pile caps with no need to dig and pour, instantly ready for loading, far less expensive to extend, low noise, low vibration, and approximately 30-50% of the time required to install precast concrete driven piles.

Call 204.793.0653 or email Gary Mair, Manager Customer Support and Sales at gary@versapile.com.