Installing precast concrete culverts is now quicker, safer and more efficient thanks to the new electro-hydraulic Culvert Puller from Piletec, the specialist piling division of Groundforce.
The new device, which has been two years in development, has now gone into production following highly successful trials on an industrial site in Knottingly, West Yorkshire.
Here, main contractor Caddick Construction is building a new distribution centre for fashion retailer T.K. Maxx. The project involves the construction of two pedestrian underpasses to allow staff to cross the busy service yard without coming into contact with the operational traffic on the surface.
Specialist contractor Howard Civil Engineering was subcontracted to install the walkways using precast concrete culvert sections, each weighing in at around 17 tonnes.
The normal method of installing culverts of this size is to prepare the excavation, lift the sections in one at a time with a hydraulic excavator and then assemble them with a Culvert Puller which brings the sections together accurately and in a controlled way.
Knowing that Piletec has a fleet of proven Culvert Pullers, Howard Civil Engineering made enquiries and was offered a choice of existing equipment at normal rates or – in this case – a free trial of the new prototype design.
Despite the equipment’s unproven performance, Howard Civil Engineering took up the challenge and chose the new model.
The new Culvert Puller is, like the existing model, electrically powered. However, instead of a battery pack, it uses a portable generator to avoid the need to charge batteries on site.
The machine itself is rated at 110V and has a 20 tonne pulling force. It features new G-clamp suspension units for the pulling beam and the pulling tonnage is fully adjustable, though it can be pre-set to the customer’s maximum requirement.
The beam support arrangement helps to improve safety. In the event of any malfunction, the puller shuts down and the beam remains in position, reducing the risk of injury to the operators.
Polyurethane soffit support pads protect the concrete surface from damage and the use of the beam support clamps frees-up the excavator for continuous culvert installation.
The geometry of the new design also ensures a completely horizontal pulling force, thus avoiding angular stresses and the risk of culvert breakage.
Piletec Groundforce engineers, responding to feedback from customers, have spent two years refining the design of the new Culvert Puller; no other culvert pullers on the market currently offer the same combination of features.
During Howard Civil Engineering’s two-week trial at Knottingly this summer, the new puller performed far better than even Piletec had expected. The speed and ease of installation and the fact that there is no need to constantly charge and re-charge batteries hugely improved efficiency, making the culvert installation quicker, safer and more accurate.
“We installed two walkways, one about 30m long using 15 culvert sections, the other just over 15m and using 8 sections,” explains Howard Civil Engineering project manager Tosh Shergill.
“The whole operation was so much smoother and more efficient than we had expected. We didn’t think it would be that much different from the old type of puller,” he adds. “We’ll definitely be using it again.”
Having passed the site test with flying colours, the new Culvert Puller is now going into full production and will be available from Piletec depots later this year.