Piling specialist benefits from the speed and power of the Liebherr LRB 125

ASAP Installations LLC, based in Lutz in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, was established in 2006 as a specialist steel sheet piling subcontractor by company president Simon den Tuinder. Despite the market downturn, it has built up a fleet of four piling rigs with four crews by persuading general contractors of the benefits of outsourcing piling to a specialist.

“As a specialist, we can do sheet piling installation more quickly and more economically than anyone else,” Simon den Tuinder says.

This capability has been significantly enhanced with the purchase in December 2009 of a Liebherr LRB 125 piling rig, which has subsequently proven its value on numerous assignments.

More force equals more productivity

“We needed a high production machine because we had a contract installing nine miles of sheet piles at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach for the US Army Corps of Engineers,” he explains. While a conventional crane-based piling rig with a free-hanging hammer can look to install maybe 20 pairs of sheets a day, at Eglin ASAP’s LRB 125 rig – fitted with a Liebherr 2323 VML high frequency vibratory hammer with variable moment – achieved a maximum production rate of 75 pairs of sheets a day, equivalent to 300 ft. ASAP initially took the machine on a lease deal last summer from Liebherr Nenzing Crane Company. After a successful trial period, ASAP went ahead and purchased the machine.

Conventional vibratory hammers drop only with the force of gravity and are pulled back up with a cable. On Liebherr’s LRB series piling rigs, the hammer slides from top to bottom on a fixed leader that pulls the hammer down at the same time as vibrating. The LRB 125, the smallest model in the series, gives a downforce equivalent to 33,700 lbs – at least triple the downforce offered by conventional free-hanging hammers.

“We like this machine because not only does it offer high production, but also the additional downforce means we can penetrate harder ground,” Simon den Tuinder says.

In addition, the rigid mast system means a lot less deflection than conventional telescopic leader piling rigs, which ensures straighter piles and minimal readjustment required during the driving operation.

After completing at Eglin, ASAP’s new rig again proved its merits in the Everglades in January, installing steel sheet piles for a South Florida Water Management District stormwater control project. The power of the LRB 125 was able to penetrate a layer of hard rock.

“Typically, conventional sheet piling equipment could not have penetrated that rock. With the LRB 125, we were able to chip away and toe the pile into the rock, rather than just sit on top of it. Making the foundations more solid like this increases the strength of the structure,” says Simon den Tuinder.

Mobility enhances use

It is not just the speed and strength of the machine that makes it so useful to ASAP, however. It is also highly mobile and, pound for pound, significantly more compact than an equivalent lattice boom crane.

As a specialist, ASAP takes on jobs all over the state of Florida, sometimes quite small and lasting just a few weeks. “For transport, we just take off the vibratory hammer and fold back the
leader. There is no dismantling the boom, like on a crane. It is much easier and quicker to move between jobs.”

On site, too, the LRB 125 has proved itself a nimble mover. In February ASAP put it to work on a Florida Department of Transportation project on I-75/I-275 in Tampa, where new exit ramps are being built to State Road 56. ASAP installed a series of six coffer cells, each 30ft square.

Sheet piles provided a structure that could be excavated to enable the installation of utilities by micro-tunneling from within the pit. The rig was compact enough to set up inside each cell, install three sides and then walk back to complete the last side from the outside. “We do not need a lot of space to set up,” he says.

“Moving between cells was easy too. Where there was an overpass to go under, it was simple to fold back the leader to reduce the machine’s height”, he says. “Although when navigating slopes the hammer would also be removed to ensure maximum stability”.

Stability of the Liebherr LRB series is also improved by having a lower center of gravity than comparable machines. This achieved by having the hydraulic hoses move up and down with the
hammer without routing them over the top of the leader.

ASAP’s machine is now returning to the Everglades for further work with South Florida Water Management District.

Adding versatility

The flexibility of the Liebherr LRB 125 also opens new possibilities for ASAP as it’s a combination piling and drilling rig, delivering from 33,200 ft-lb to 88,500 ft-lb of torque. This depends on rotary – a performance unrivaled by any other machine in its class. The LRB can also run a hydraulic impact hammer.

Says Simon den Tuinder: “We can put an auger or a press-in system on this machine too. So if the ground is too hard to install the sheets we can pre-drill, or if the client does not allow vibrating then we can use the press-in system. This means we can offer an even more complete package to general contractors – vibrate, pre-drill or press in.”

As well as the standard Liebherr LRB 125, with an effective leader length of 51 ft, Liebherr also offers an LRB 125 XL with a 64 ft leader.

Excerpt taken from For Construction Experts.