They have been around since 1833 but helical piles are yet to reach their full capacity as the innovative and brilliant examples of engineering that they are.
Helical piles were invented by a civil engineer from Ireland called Alexander Mitchell, who was, astoundingly, blind. He won the Telford Medal for his invention and then three years later, the first helical piles were put to use in mooring ships.
They were at first, limited to nautical use with Maplin Sands Lighthouse being the first structure to benefit from the installation of helical piles and next came Brighton Pier.
As the realisation of what helical piles were capable of, use of them grew exponentially.
Today we use them in many applications, including:
- Motorway signage
- Wind turbines
- Telegraph poles
- Climbing walls
- Prefabricated buildings
The list could go on and it’s an accepted fact that helical piers are the best possible foundation support for buildings on unstable ground or with poor drainage.
Recent experiments also indicate that helical piles are an excellent choice in earthquake prone areas.
Fast installation with little disruption and noise, no waste soil to dispose of, all add up to a convenient, cost-effective building solution that could be used in many more applications.
Helical piles are also more ecologically friendly than for example, concrete. Helical piles can be recycled and recycled metal can be used in their construction. The necessary equipment used in installing helical piles is much smaller and utilises less power than in the installation of traditional concrete foundations which has a knock-on effect on the environment.
Concrete foundations will have a place in construction for a long time to come, that’s a certainty but helical piles continue to rise in various applications and prove themselves time and again under all manner of pressure.