Prime Machine Case Study

Here you can find information on the Prime Machine Process, as well as get an account from the Rhino himself Troy. 

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Troy :

Okay this project we did in Salt Lake City Utah, and the name of it is Prime Machine; Was the company we did the job for. Essentially, they needed to add additional space to their fabrication plant. They fabricate custom parts for the oil and gas and mining industries, so they use really heavy equipment, and like I said, they needed to add space to their manufacturing facilities, so they were going to put an addition on the existing facility, and they needed a really high capacity foundation and footings because the weight of the machinery they needed to put in there was so heavy. 

One of the issues that they ran into was that they needed a very high capacity for tension, which is actually not the equipment weighing down on the soil, but rather, if there is a high wind or a seismic event, they worry about the building overturning or lifting up, and they couldn’t really figure out a way to achieve the capacities they needed. They had a few options they were mulling over. One would be to just create huge footings and foundations, that would be so heavy that they could hold the building down, but it would take a ton of concrete, and they didn’t really have space for it. They were just kind of using an extra piece of land that they had for storage, and they didn’t have enough room to spread the footings out wide enough to get the capacity they needed. The other option would be to use some helical piles, which we do, but the problem in this area of Salt Lake City, the soil is so bad and so deep, that we’d end up needing to go like 80 to 100 feet in the ground to get the tension capacities that they’d need. That would have been a very expensive option. 


We were actually unaware all of this was going on, and I was contacted by Prime Machine. They had been given our name through a geotechnical company here in Salt Lake named GSH, and the project manager reached out to me, and when we were able to get together, he told me kind of the problems that they were having, and the issues they needed to resolve. We started looking into the stelcor option. Stelcor is a really high capacity pile, and it’s installed similarly to a helical pier, which is by using a torque motor, like a big earth screw going into the ground. The difference between a stelcor pile and a helical one is that the stelcor has displacement ends on it where it will actually push the soil aside as it goes into the ground, creating a pretty sizable and hollow shaft for grout to go down while it enters the ground. 


Basically, the way you do this is you start screwing in the pile with a heavy excavator, and as it goes into the ground, it creates a reservoir where the grout can be pumped, and the fluting on the pile is reversed. So, if you think about a drill bit, and when you are drilling into wood or concrete, the job of that drill bit, fluting, is to pull those materials out and keep the hole free of debris while you’re drilling so that you can get in deeper, and that’s why you get a pile of sawdust or a pile of concrete dust while you’re drilling. That ridging on the bit pulls the material out. Well, a stelcor is different; the fluting is reversed, and as you put it in the ground, it is actually sucking down the grout that you put in the reservoir, pulling it down into the earth. When that grout cures, it creates a very strong cement bond with the soil, and you can achieve super high capacities without having to go so deep, so we were able to achieve the capacity they needed by going only 17 feet as opposed to 80. 


The project went really well. I think we sped things up for them, and they were able to get back on track, as they were a little bit behind, trying to resolve this. On our best day out there, we were able to get 25 of these things in the ground. You know, we did have some issues. We were working around other contractors, and the access was really tight, but we managed to get it done, and everyone was happy. We passed our pull test, to make sure we had the capacities that were needed, and it was a really good experience. I think it was a win-win for Rhino Foundation Systems and also for Prime Machine. We were able to deliver on what we promised them initially to keep their budget down. It was still an expensive project for them, but sometimes it’s about doing the impossible. I feel like we did that with Prime Machine, so it was a great foundation. Wasn’t necessarily a foundation repair project I guess in Salt Lake, but it was looking forward, and making sure that this building stands the test of time so it doesn’t need to have its foundation repaired long term.