Dart Services in Estevan, SK


Ten years ago, Dart Services Ltd. got its start installing screw piles for foundations. A year-and-a-half later, they added concrete pumping. Now they are rounding out their services by adding a new, but related service – driven piles.

The service comes with the arrival of a Junttan PMX22 piledriver this past spring. They had it on display at the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show in Weyburn. By late June, they were doing test runs, installing piles for field lighting at Estevan’s Quewezance Memorial Field, near the Souris River.

“They’re built in Finland,” said Davin Emmel, who a partner with Marty Hanson in the ownership and management of Dart Services.

The company has five pumping units. One screw pile unit is based on an excavator, another on a boom truck. The smallest uses a skid-steer loader.

The Junttan PM 16 piledriver, on the other hand, is anything but small, even though this unit is one of the smallest Junttan makes. It’s one of the larger pieces of iron you will see in a region used to big heavy equipment. It has its own trailer with a jeep and booster, adding axles and wheels to meet weight requirements on the road. In order to grow the company, the partners felt such a unit was necessary.

“We’ve seen so many of these driven jobs come across our desk ... we wanted to be able to do every type. We didn’t want to be limited,” Emmel said.

They could have gone with a smaller machine, but the choice of a larger unit means there’s little they can’t do now.

“We can probably handle everything. It depends on soil conditions,” he said.

They started tossing the idea of a piledriver around last fall, according to Hanson.

The machine is basically brand new, with just a few hours on it. It has a hydraulic hammer.

“The hammer has four feet of stroke. It can be configured in four, five or six tons. The hammer itself is 16,000 pounds,” Emmel said. “You can stroke it an inch or four feet. The operator can set it for different soil conditions.”rdquo;

The bottom of the hammer is not a flat surface. Rather, there’s a tube that captures the end of the pile, and the striking surface is within that tube. As a result, it should not mushroom the pipe.

Part of the operator’s skill is positioning the top end of the pile into that tube. “We sent our operator down (to Delaware) for a month,” Emmel said. Kelly Freiss is that operator.

An instructor came up to Estevan for several days to help get Dart Services on their feet. While putting in the piles at the football field, he warned that you have to have some resistance, or the hammer will just keep going. “You’ll never see it again,” he joked. The ground was so saturated, the steel piles were easily gliding into the ground.

From the outside, the machine might look like an simple excavator with a couple of joysticks and pedals. That’s not at all the case. There are in fact five joysticks and two pedals, with three rows with six switches each. The machine is computer controlled.

Compared to conventional, crane-based piledrivers, the hydraulic Junttan PMX22 fits on one trailer, not three, takes; 25 minutes to set up, not hours, and can operated with a crew of just two, not five or more. It is possible to do two jobs or more in a day. Since the machine clutches the pile near the ground, guiding it while the other end is capped, it is able to pound piles to within one degree of accuracy. That makes “batter piles,” piles installed at an angle, much easier to install.

Hanson said, “We can do I-beam steel, but the majority of the work will be round, either wood or steel. It gets delivered right from the mills.”

They can also work with pre-cast concrete piles, an example of which is planned for Churchbridge, Sask.

The machine is also capable of driving sheet piling.

“From driving in and undoing the chains to being ready to go to work, it’s probably 25 minutes,” Emmel said.

“We can do up to 73 feet in one piece, and can add sections.”

The unit is in commission now. “There’s always new stuff,” Hanson said of projects. “It’s hard to tell until you get your name out there.”

They had a big hotel project lined up in Regina for July. In August, the company will work on the new TS&M shop in Estevan.

“We’re willing to go anywhere, if needed. Hotels, batteries, bridges – anything that calls for a driven pile,” Emmel said.

In the meantime, Dart Services has been busy with their screw pile units. They installed a veritable forest of piles at the new PTI Lodge northeast of Estevan, with 1,513 piles, each 25 feet long, installed over the course of 10 days with one unit.

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