Geax's impact on Toronto's shoring landscape

Increasing demand for space and higher property prices have led to many residents of buildings in Canada’s Toronto to rebuild existing properties. Italy’s Geax is the drill rig manufacturer of choice for Turnkey Site Solutions a contractor specialising in such limited access projects.

 Canadian contractor Turnkey Site Solutions has a selection of Geax rigs in its fleet

Canadian contractor Turnkey Site Solutions has a selection of Geax rigs in its fleet

Ranking annually in CNN's world's most liveable cities, people are flocking to metropolitan Toronto, Canada to enjoy its benefits. The resulting rapid growth in population and population densification has fuelled a strong real estate market in the city. In contrast to similar markets where extensive building occurs on the outskirts of the city, many residents are choosing to move to, or remain in, the vibrant city centre. Toronto's surge in rebuilding and retrofitting existing homes has created new demand for shoring design and implementation. In response, firms specialising in residential shoring have evolved to meet that demand. Shoring is quickly becoming a standard on every project in Toronto where contractors traditionally had space to slope the excavation.

For architects, engineers, home builders and construction professionals, rebuilding or retrofitting established properties in the urban core presents a unique set of technical and logistical challenges. Older, smaller homes on tight lots are often demolished before beginning the process of rebuilding on relatively small plots of land. Flanked by neighbouring structures, the sites offer minimal access corridors. In order to maximise these small plots, shoring contractors typically install soldier piles along property lines, ensuring that the integrity of neighbouring properties is not undermined during excavation.

What do you picture when you think of a job site where shoring installation is underway? Often, shoring is associated with hulking 100ft tall drill rigs, behemoths that are tricky to transport and can dominate smaller worksites. In space-limited residential markets such as Toronto, those large, traditional rigs are impractical at best. More often than not, they are impossible to use due to any number of logistical considerations. As an example, in the city's residential market many basement addition projects offer machine access that is no wider than an average car. Overhead restrictions are also often present, introducing additional complexity. How can effective shoring be achieved in such a tight space?

Enter Turnkey Site Solutions with its fleet of Geax drill rigs. Within the past seven years, Turnkey has established itself as the premier contractor for tight-access shoring projects throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Thanks to supplier Selix Equipment Inc. with its after-sales service and support, Turnkey's fleet now includes two DTC-80s and a DTC-30 drill, making Turnkey Shoring the largest owner of Geax drills in North America. In addition to the Geax machines, Turnkey also operates a Tescar CF3, and a Soilmec SR-45. With this modern, versatile fleet, Turnkey successfully executed 152 projects across Southern Ontario in 2018.

Much of this success is due to the powerful, yet compact nature of the Geax drills. Small but mighty, the Geax rigs readily handled every challenge that ground contractors and builders have thrown at them. The Geax DTC 80 rigs have successfully opened up new markets for Turnkey being small drill which performing like larger ones.

Since day one with the DTC 80s, Turnkey's experienced operators have frequently remarked on the Geax's high rotation speed, fast winch, and auto levelling - features that are often reserved for much bigger machines. This has created a demand for these machines among the operator staff at Turnkey. When asked about the Geax machines, Chris Steele, a senior operator at Turnkey, gave them rave reviews, stating: "For size, weight, and torque ratio, it is the best drill I've ever used."

The rigs, in conjunction with tooling supplied by Carandina, have made short work of all obstructions encountered, including the stiff clays and glacial till common to Toronto. The drills are also quick to mobilize. The DTC-80 along with tooling, a tie-off block, and a skid steer can be delivered to site on a single trailer and be ready to work within 15 minutes of arrival.


Turnkey Turnkey Site Solutions uses Geax DTC-80 rigs on projects where access is extremely limited

This past spring, Turnkey used a Geax DTC-80 to drill a CAN$10,000 shoring wall for an addition in mid-town Toronto and then floated the same drill down the road to drill a CAN$1 million shoring system for an apartment complex. Despite the difference in size of these jobs, the transition required no adjustment to the drill.

Turnkey president, Matthew Over, notes that the service and parts support from Geax has been first-rate, allowing for minimal downtime - a critical element for success in a competitive market. Turnkey was an early adopter of Geax in the North American market, and that early investment was a wise one.

Geax's quick air freight delivery from Italy and use of similar, compatible parts across its product range have been a huge bonus for the company as Scott Jones, Turnkey vice president, notes: "Consistency is key to growth. With the confidence behind a reliable fleet of drills, my job reviewing quotations prepared by my estimating department has become easier, allowing us to push the envelope on the scope of work we are targeting."

Geax drills regularly exceed production requirements and expectations

Though the Geax rigs are ideally suited and best-known for tight access shoring projects, Turnkey has challenged them further, successfully leveraging their power and drilling depth capabilities to progress to larger mid-size projects. On those larger-scale, wide-open sites, some might expect that the compact Geax models would struggle to perform or look out of place. In reality, Turnkey's compact Geax drills regularly exceed production requirements and expectations on those larger jobs, delivering the power and features of larger, traditional rigs while overcoming traditional limitations.

Turnkey's fleet of Geax drills, coupled with the recently acquired Soilmec SR45 drill rig, have supported Turnkey's growth such that it is able to efficiently execute a wide range of shoring projects. When faced with unusual challenges, creativity and customisation extend the range of possibilities.

In 2016, the DTC-80 showed its versatility when Turnkey completed a shoring project inside an active automotive factory in St Thomas, Ontario. Low headroom was a critical factor, as the factory's overhead crane needed to remain active throughout construction. By removing the jib during drilling operations, Turnkey further reduced the size of the already compact DTC-80, allowing the project to proceed without disrupting factory productivity.