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Specialized Helical Pile Installation Equipment

We decided to explore a topic that doesn't get much attention yet deserves merit for its participation in the helical pile world. In this article we help our readers better understand TMP’s specialized installation equipment and explore the origins of their development.

From the start, Techno Metal Post has prided itself on having a dedicated team of mechanical engineers, who to this day, continues to oversee the company's innovations. Together, they developed a line of cutting-edge equipment, created exclusively for the installation of helical pile foundations. In total, four models were created, each designed for different project requirements. They are: R2D, ET1, EM1 & EM2.

Before we comment on their features, let’s review their humble beginnings. We interviewed Étienne St-Laurent, a mechanical engineer who is currently the company's Director of Operations and Finance, to discuss his involvement in the development of Techno Metal Post's installation equipment. He told us that the creation of the R2D dates back to 2001. Prior to this, pile installation was carried out using a hitched trailer equipped with a boom and gearbox. Limited accessibility became an issue, motivating Clément Binet, co-founder of Techno Metal Post, to collaborate with a sub-contractor and create the first R2D machine. The goal was to create a machine that could access very restricted areas and, more specifically, fit through a 32" door frame. Later, Étienne collaborated to enhance the R2D, making it faster and more efficient. His main role, however, was developing the ET1, a large-scale machine, designed to meet specific load-bearing capacity requirements of over 20 tons per pile. 

Over time in France, the R2D eventually proved to be too small for certain jobs needing a larger, more robust machine. The ET1, in contrast, was oversized and the demand for it was limited. After returning from his trip to France, Clément then designed the EM1 as an intermediate alternative tailored to suit the French market. In time, the EM1 was developed in 2010. This machine is the result of a combined effort between Étienne and Maxime Binet, a mechanical engineering technician who remains involved in research and development to this day. An optimized, version of this machine, the EM2, was launched in 2018.

We also spoke with Éric Laplante, Mechanical Production Manager, about some key points regarding the installation equipment. Here is what he had to say: 

Eric: “All mechanical and electrical components are designed and manufactured here, in Thetford Mines, Québec. Hydraulics, engine, and body are assembled here and made by us as well. The only components we source externally is the lower section, specifically the traction system.”

“How long does assembly take?”

Eric: “It takes about a month to manufacture one EM2 or R2D. Overall, we can produce up to twelve EM2s and twelve R2Ds annually depending on the demand.”

Eric added, “The hydraulic system is what screws the pile into the ground. Also, an important fact is, machines can be fitted with 2 different hydraulic motors- a faster one offering lower torque, and a slower one capable of generating higher torque. So, it really depends on the project requirements.”

He pointed to the main head piece attached to the arm and said, “See where the 2 hoses connect at the top? It's this motor that gets replaced, to get more torque and adapt to the project requirements. That's what changes. There are 4 bolts in the lower portion that can be unscrewed so that the motor can be lifted out and replaced by another. The larger part stays in place, and the installer needs to change only the upper part. This process is quick and easy and can be completed directly on site. It’s worth mentioning that only the R2D operates with gas/fuel, while the others are all diesel.”

“How does the machine move forward?”

Eric: “All machines are equipped with wireless remotes. They turn, move forward and backward through a remote-control box, that’s been designed specifically by our team. The R2D, however, also has a manual control option for forward and reverse. We can also offer a wired remote with the same functionalities.”

“Can you tell us about the bio-hydraulic oil that’s used? I thought that was very interesting.”

Eric: “Well, we use bio-hydraulic oil for hydraulic functions and mineral motor oil for diesel or gas engines. The engine drives a pump which generates the hydraulic pressure required to operate the various parts of the machine."

Now that we have a clear understanding of how the machines work, lets review the advantages they provide for both the installer and customer-

  • Compact, the smallest being able to manoeuvre through tight spaces.
  • Powerful, including the smallest machine model.
  • Can access difficult terrain without site disruption.
  • Requires no excavation or concrete.
  • An environmentally conscious and cleaner method.

Visit our “Installation Equipment” page for more details on each machine.

Call your local dealer if you have questions, they will be happy to chat with you and take the time to explain the benefits of our technology.

Click here to contact a dealer

by Nadia Tardif

Marketing Manager

March, 2024