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DFI 2002Jim Frazier, Garland Likins,Frank Rausche, George Goble Page 1
Jim Frazier, Lawrence Construction, Littleton, CO USAGarland Likins, Pile Dynamics, Inc., Cleveland, OH USAFrank Rausche, GRL Engineers, Inc., Cleveland, OH USAGeorge Goble, George G. Goble Consulting Engineer LLC, Boulder, CO USA
Tradition has often dictated low design load stresses on piles. Such traditions often developedprior to modern static or dynamic pile testing methods and perhaps result from a few limitingsituations. These low stress limits were then broadly applied, even in cases where the piles couldcarry substantially higher loads. With sufficient testing to prove the design, higher design loadsmay present significant overall savings to the project owner. The cost of the testing thenbecomes an insignificant cost compared to the potentially great benefit of increased pile loadings.To confirm higher load possibilities for driven piles, the pile is tested either statically or dynamically. Further savings and increased testing efficiency result from remote dynamic piletesting. This paper presents a project where design stresses were considerably increased as aresult of additional testing and use of remote dynamic pile testing equipment.
Load Evaluation
When designing a driven pile foundation system,engineers have a wide range of choices, includingthe ultimate load per pile and pile size (type, length,and diameter). The required pile capacity dependson the applied loading from the superstructure, thetest method for verification of the pile capacity, andthe frequency of testing. The ultimate pile capacitymust exceed the applied loads by a sufficient marginor else the foundation system will fail due tounacceptable settlements. To reduce the risk andprevent foundation failures, safety factors areassigned to compensate for uncertainties. Logically,less testing performed increases the risk of a failedfoundation, while more testing reduces risk.Similarly, more accurate test methods reduce risk,while less accurate methods increase risk. The goalbeing to have an acceptably low probability of failureat an economic cost.Deep foundations require adequate qualityassurance for a successful service life. A wellplanned test program allows the design engineer toassure adequate bearing capacity while at the sametime minimizing the foundation costs, for example,through reduced factors of safety.When the ultimate failure load can be determined,loads per pile can be optimized for the same risk andfoundation costs can be reduced. For large projectsspecial test programs performed in advance of finaldesign can be quite effective. Fewer piles arerequired if higher working loads can be proven, or shorter piles can be used. For moderately sizedprojects, the first production piles are often used astest piles and some adjustment to the driving criteriaand therefore cost savings are possible. Productionpiles are usually driven to the established test pilecriteria.However, it is not practical to statically test every pilebecause it is time consuming and has high costs,particularly for higher pile loads. Therefore, statictesting is usually limited to a very small sample of piles on any site (typically one percent or less onlarge projects, or often only one pile per job). Prior to1970, often there was no static testing at all.Dynamic pile monitoring during pile installation hasbecome an important part of many projects tosupplement and in some cases replace static testing.Dynamic pile testing is specified by most major codes including AASHTO, ASCE, ASTM, IBC2000,PDCA, and USCOE. In addition to capacityassessment, it provides otherwise unavailableinformation on stresses, pile integrity and hammer performance during installation, thus checking thedrivability, especially important for piles which arehighly loaded. Dynamic load tests at the end of driving and during restrike provide the engineer thenecessary information for long term bearing capacity
DFI 2002Jim Frazier, Garland Likins,Frank Rausche, George Goble Page 2
assessment and soil strength changes as they occur with time after pile driving, usually due to soil setupbut possibly relaxation in some soils or weak rocks.Comparative tests of both static and dynamic testson the same test pile are often used to confirm thecorrelation between these two test methods. Largedatabases of correlation cases add assurance as tothe reliability of dynamic tests on smaller projectswhere static testing is not economically justifiable.
Safety Factor Selection
In the extreme case where every pile is tested with avery accurate method (e.g. static load test) with aconservative definition of failure, then the safetyfactor can be significantly reduced because theuncertainty of pile performance and therefore the riskis reduced. The Davisson offset yield line criteriarecommended by the Federal Highway Administration and Pile Driving Contractors Association is among the most conservative of failurecriteria and thus justifies use of lower safety factors.For end bearing piles, typically there is oftensignificant reserve strength above the Davisson load,so lower safety factors are appropriate. For piles insensitive clays, the failure load might be reachedsuddenly with no reserve strength so safety factorsshould be selected cautiously.The minimum safety factors recommended by thePDCA code (PDCA, 2001) depend on the number or percentage of piles tested as shown in Table 1. Inthis table, D% is the percent of piles statically testedon the job while F.S. is the global factor of safety.Piles are selected so that the site variability isadequately addressed, and adequate hammer performance is periodically verified. With theseguidelines, assurance is obtained that all staticallytested piles exceed the desired working load timesthe specified safety factor. Alternately, because theloads are then known and thus uncertainty reduced,a lower safety factor could be used withoutincreasing the risk. This approach, taken by thePDCA code, awards lower safety factors whentesting more piles. Lower safety factors might meanthe load per pile can be increased, resulting in fewer piles, or that the driving criteria can be relaxedresulting in shorter piles, either way reducing timeand costs to the contractor. The cost of the extratesting is often more than compensated by reducedfoundation costs for larger projects.Table 1: PDCA safety factors for static testing onlyTable 1: PDCA saferty factors for static testing onlyD% (% of piles tested) F.S.0.5 2.01 1.92 1.83 1.755 1.65 After establishing a correlation between dynamic andstatic tests, dynamic testing with signal matching hasbeen then used to replace additional static load testson the same site. (“Signal matching” is a processwhere the pile is modeled, a soil model assumed,and the measured velocity signal is applied as aboundary condition. The complementary force signalis computed and compared with the measured force.The soil model is iteratively adjusted until thecomputed and measured signals match.) After correlating the static and dynamic tests, the PDCAcode allows substitution of three dynamic tests for one static test in determining the quantity of testingfor static tests as shown in Table 2. Thus, with atleast one successful correlation, then the PDCAsuggested testing 5% of the piles statically can betranslated into testing 15% of the piles dynamically,and then the result is a suggested reduction in safetyfactor to 1.65. This is justified because the dynamictesting was proven accurate by the correlationprocess, and the large number of tests allow sitevariability and hammer performance consistency tobe properly assessed.Table 2: PDCA safety factors for dynamic testing(with confirming static test)D% (% of piles tested) F.S.1.5 2.03 1.96 1.89 1.7515 1.65In many cases, dynamic pile testing has completelyreplaced static testing. Because no firm correlationon the site has been established, there is slightlyhigher risk since the correlation depends upon pastexperience only of the signal matching analysiscorrelation accuracy from tests on other sites. Thisextra risk requires an increased safety factor for dynamic testing only compared with safety factorsfrom static testing or static plus correlated dynamic
DFI 2002Jim Frazier, Garland Likins,Frank Rausche, George Goble Page 3
methods. In this case, the safety factor suggestedby the PDCA code can vary from 2.1 with only 2% of the piles tested only dynamically down to 1.9 when10% of the piles are tested only dynamically asshown in Table 3.Table 3: PDCA safety factors for dynamic testingonly (no static testing)D% (% of piles tested) F.S.2 2.15 2.010 1.9
Remote Dynamic Pile Testing
In the past, dynamic pile testing required a highlyspecialized test engineer on site, and scheduling thearrival time of the engineer was often difficult. Theengineer might arrive a day early to be sure he waspresent to test the first pile. The first pile testingoften was delayed due to weather or in readying therig for pile driving. Furthermore, travel related costssuch as travel time, airline cost or car mileage andliving expenses have grown disproportionatelycompared to the cost of the testing itself. Once onsite, the engineer often spent more time waiting thanactually monitoring piles. This testing process istherefore not as efficient as it might be.Most pile driving contractors and engineeringconsultants are quite familiar with dynamic piletesting. In most traditional dynamic testing with thePDA testing engineer on site, the contractor’s fieldpersonnel usually attach sensors to the pile.Fortunately, recent developments in communicationtechnology have made remote dynamic pile testingfeasible. The remote testing equipment includes aspecial type of Pile Driving Analyzer 
(PDA) calledthe PAL-R which conditions, digitizes, saves and pre-analyzes the signals from the sensors. It hascommunication capability through cell phones. Theremote PDA with cell phone already connected isplaced in a cushioned case for protection duringshipping. Upon arrival at the site, opening the caseand attaching the cable connecting the sensors tothe pile gives fast access to the system as shown inFigure 1. After attaching the sensors to the pile, the siteoperator (usually a pile crew member or theinspector) connects the phone to the remote PDAand with two quick presses of the touchscreen thePDA automatically dials the office phone number andconnects to the office computer. A quick entry of thepile name and length completes the data input. ThePDA then acquires the data and sends the datathrough a cell phone to the test engineer’s office.The PDA test engineer in his own office evaluatesthe pile data as it is being measured. Because cellphones are so readily available, a separate voicecommunication is usually maintained between theoffice and the site to help direct the testing, acquiresite information like blow counts and penetrations,and take care of and problems that may arise.Currently the amount of data is too large to sendevery blow in real time. For restrikes, the PDAspools the data for a limited number of restrikeblows. If many blows are expected, as in a 1000blow driving sequence, then the PDA collects the firstblow and then sends it. It then collects several moreblows, which are stored for future access. When thefirst blow sending is complete, the remote PDAsends the next blow triggered (in this way typicallyevery 5
blow is sent, giving a representative sampleof the 1000 blow sequence). Following dataacquisition, the PDA engineer can remotely requestthe PDA to retrieve important data like the first tenblow or the last ten blows from the memory card andsend only this important data for immediate analysis.For long driving sequences, all data from every blowis available if needed from the memory card, andcould be later sent by email. Future improvements intelecommunications are anticipated which shouldallow faster data transmissions and hence moreblows sent in real time.This process gives the contractor complete controlover the testing schedule. With the remote PDA inhand, the contractor can request a test at any timeon any pile for any reason. Piles with unusual blowFigure 1. Remote PDA system

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