In The Netherlands 70% of the steel sheet piles are installed with vibrators. This is because vibrators have a high production rate and therefore a low installation cost. This method only works for soft peat and clay layers and saturated sand layers which are not densely compacted. During pile installation several problems might occur. In this paper the attention is paid to avoiding jamming of the pile before it has reached its planned depth.
In most of these cases this is caused by a design error which has let to a vibrator which is too light. Over the years different design tools, such as computer models, design graphs and design equations, have been developed in order to predict the minimum required vibrator force. In this paper a new design equation is presented, which consists of three parts: the mass of the sheet pile, the friction along the shaft and the soil resistance at the tip of the pile based on the cone penetration resistance. This equation and several other design tools for sheet pile installation, have been compared with 18 field tests. It was found that the general design graphs of the Dutch Union of Foundation Contractors (NVAF), the design equation of the Dutch Civil Engineering Centre for Construction Research and Design Rules (CUR) and the German design equation of the EAU1996 gave very poor results.
The computer model Vibdrive from Holeyman (1996), the design graphs for specific locations from the NVAF and the new presented design equation from the author gave reasonable predictions. Since the computer program is, because of its complexity, not regarded as a design tool for daily design work and the local design graphs only exist for a small number of locations in The Netherlands, the new design equation is according to the field tests the best method for the calculation of the vibrator needed for sheet pile installation.
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