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PSEUDO STATIC PILE LOAD TESTER PSEUDO STATIC PILE LOAD TESTER PSEUDO STATIC PILE LOAD TESTER PSEUDO STATIC PILE LOAD TESTER

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A.J.G. Schellingerhout

1

and E. Revoort

2

.

Abstract

For fast and economic testing of piles Fundex Piling and IFCO have jointly

developed a new testing equipment: the Pseudo Static Pile Load Tester which is

mounted on tracks and is able to execute full scale load tests under compression.

Following paper describes the theoretical backgrounds and some test cases of this

ready to use method.

General

An important question to be asked for any pile is, what is its real bearing

capacity? Although static load testing is reliable, the major disadvantages are the high

costs involved and the long time required. These reasons do not allow an often and

regular use. Due to the commonly accepted Dutch cone penetration test in The

Netherlands most engineers determine the pile bearing capacity by the method of

Koppejan and others (also known as the 4D-8D method). This method has proven itself

over the past decennia, however, recent disagreements were noted [1].

Many West European countries have standard rules for determining the actual

bearing capacity and the quality control which requires a certain number or percentage

of static load tests at major projects. A relatively cheap alternative for the static load

test is the dynamic load test, testing the pile only for a few milliseconds. The major

objection of this method is the fact that the measured bearing capacity is a combination

of both a static and a dynamic component. By means of pile modelling, only specialist

engineers are able to derive the static component from the analyses.

During the past few years new developments have improved dynamic load

testing. It was expected that extending the loading time to a multiple period of

milliseconds would substantially reduce the dynamic component of the measured

bearing capacity. Such developments would simplify the interpretation significantly.

These new quasi or "pseudo" static loading techniques emphasize the static element.

Examples are Statnamic and the here described Pseudo Static Pile Load Tester

(PSPLT).

Theoretical background

1

IFCO BV Limaweg 17 2743 CB Waddinxveen The Netherlands

2

Funderingstechnieken Verstraeten BV (Fundex) Brugsevaart 6 4501 NE Oostburg The Netherlands

The most important advantage of the dynamic load test versus a static test is that

devices for reaction forces are not required, such as reaction piles or heavy kentledge.

During dynamic load tests the force F is the result of a change of momentum. Its relation

is presented by

r

r

p Fdt mv mv

pre post

= =

(1)

in which

m = the mass used for the test and v

pre

and v

post

are the velocities of the mass, before

and after the interaction with the pile

In the equation the principle of action = negative reaction can be recognised.

The action force is exercised on the pile and the reaction force on the dropmass.

Equation (1) is simplified by neglecting gravity, since this is very small related to the

executed force during the load. Should gravity accelerate or decelerate the dropmass,

equation (1) can be recalculated to a height with

v gh = 2 (2)

in which

g = acceleration of gravity

h = height of the mass before or after the test

Figure 1. The load settlement

curve calculated for a dynamic, a

pseudo static, and a static load

test. The parameters are: soil

stiffness = 0.28 GN/m, soil

impedance (= damping)= 1.3

MNs/m, wave velocity = 4180

m/s, pile length = 16.4 m, pile

area = 0.4x0.4 m

2

and the

Youngs modulus= 42 GN/m

2

.The

force as a function of time is (1-

cos(t)). The t

50%

is 4 ms for the

dynamic test and 40 ms for the

pseudo static test.

0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4

-30

-25

-20

-15

-10

-5

0

force [MN]

d

i

s

p

l

a

c

e

m

e

n

t

[

m

m

]

Simulation

dynamic load test t

50%

= 4 ms

quasi static l oad test t

50%

= 40 ms

static load test k =0.17 GN/m

During a dynamic load test the magnitude of the exerted force is comparable to

the ultimate pile bearing capacity. Equation (1) shows the relation of duration of the

load on the pile with the change of momentum. Extending the load time requires

increasing mass or velocity. The duration indicates how "static" the load test is. A

definition of this time is the duration of which the load is above a certain percentage of

the maximum load. The percentage is usually 50 %, (so called t

50 %

). When different

systems are to be compared identical definitions for this time scale must be used.

The duration t

50%

of a loadtest performed with Statnamic can be calculated

using formulas (1) and (2). For the mass it is advised to take 5-10 % of the pile's

ultimate bearing capacity [9], velocity v

pre

= 0 m/s, assuming that the mass reaches a

height of 1.5 m, and that the force as function of time has a triangular shape, then the

duration of the load is:

t

m gh

F

F

g

gh

F

h

g

ms

ultimate

ultimate

ultimate

50%

2

01

2

01

2

50 = = =

.

. (3)

in which

t

50 %

= is the duration where the force exceeds 50 % of the maximum force

F

ultimate

= the ultimate pile bearing capacity

The forcepuls deployed to the pilehead generates a shock wave into the pile.

The travelling time of the wave from the pilehead to the piletoe and vice versa causes a

delay in the response to the reaction forces of the subsoil. This is why for loads of

relatively short duration only the velocity of the pile head is used for the analysis

instead of displacement. The duration of the load should be compared with the wave

travelling time. A load becomes quasi-static when:

t

l

c

50%

2

>> (4)

in which

l = the pile length

c = wave velocity in the pile (approx. 4000 m/s for concrete, and 5100 m/s for steel)

Figure 1 shows calculations of load-settlement curves for three loading

techniques on a simplified pile-soil model. The pile has a length of 16.4 m, a cross-

sectional area of 0.4 x 0.4 m, and a wave velocity of 4180 m/s. The piletoe reaction

force is generated by a pure elastic spring, and the pile has no side friction. From fig. 1

can be read that the quasi-static testmethod very well approaches the elastic load-

settlement curve. The shape of the looped curve is caused by the time delay between

load and settlement and does not relate to the shaft friction, since that is lacking in this

simple model.

Pseudo Static Pile Load

Tester

The PSPLT is

especially designed to

execute quasi-static

load tests (fig. 2). The

load test is carried out

by means of dropping a

heavy mass with a

coiled spring assembly

from a predetermined

height onto a single pile.

After the hit the mass

bounces and is caught in

its highest position. The

principle of the PSPLT

was previously

described in [3].

According to equation

(1), this loading method

gives almost a double

momentum change using the mass efficiently. Efficiency is further increased by catching

the bouncing mass, which makes larger dropheights possible. This also avoids further

hindrance to the test and the measurements. The instrumentation for the test consists of a

load cell and an optical displacement measuring device. The load cell which is placed

on top of the pile is almost identical to the one used during static load tests. Pilehead

displacement is recorded with the optical device mounted on a tripod at a distance of

approx. 10 m from the pile. It is furthermore equipped with a geophone to monitor

vibrations of the tripod during the test. All measured signals are immediately processed

by a computer and presented in relevant graphs.

The execution of a test is as follows: the PSPLT is brought to the test site by a

low-loader. It moves on its tracks to the testpile, whose pile head has previously been

prepared. When the rig is positioned and the measuring devices are attached the test

can start. First a static load test is carried out with the weight of the dropmass. Then

subsequently a number of loads are deployed to the pile by dropping the mass from

increasing heights onto the pile. With the output of results a quasi-static load-settlement

curve is produced. Then the next pile can be tested. It is possible to load-test a

significant number of piles per single working day. With proper preparations on the test

site and the pileheads more than 10 piles daily have been tested.

The load of the PSPLT can be described by a simple model: a mass m, with a

spring k, is dropped from a height h onto a rigid base. The values of m and k are

Figure 2. Drawing of the PSPLT.

respectively 25.000 kg and 8 MN/m, height h is equal to zero when the spring touches

the base. The maximum force is then represented as:

F mg

kh

mg

mgkh

max

= +

2

1 1 2 (5)

The duration of the load is between

175

2

3

117

50%

ms

m

k

t

m

k

ms > >

(6)

Figure 3 shows

equation (5) in a graph with

the parameters of the PSPLT.

Figure 4 shows the force as

function of time. The duration

of the load t

50 %

has a small

dependence of the dropheight.

The above described model is

a good approximation of the

force exerted by the PSPLT as

a function of time. However,

an error is caused by the

simplification of the coil

springs being massless. The

assumption of a rigid base is

justified, because the

displacement of the pile

during loading is far less than

the compression of the coiled

springs. A complete model was

also made, including the spring

mass [4]. The mass effects of

the coiled springs in the PSPLT

are minimized by using

additional rubber springs and

by creating a time delay

between subsequent coils

hitting the base plate.

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.8 3

0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

3000

3500

4000

maximumforce as a function of dropheight

dropheight [m]

m

a

x

i

m

u

m

f

o

r

c

e

[

k

N

]

m=25000 kg k= 8 MN/ m

Figure 3. Maximum force as a function of dropheight.

0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350

0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

3000

3500

4000

force of the PSPLT as a function of time

time [ms]

f

o

r

c

e

[

k

N

]

h =3.00 mF

max

= 3685 kN t

50%

=122 ms

h =1.50 mF

max

= 2684 kN t

50%

=124 ms

h =0.50 mF

max

= 1667 kN t

50%

=128 ms

h =0.00 mF

max

= 490 kN t

50%

=176 ms

Static F

max

= 245 kN

Figure 4. The force as a function of time for different dropheights. The insert

shows the different values for t

50%

..

Results and interpretation

At various sites in The

Netherlands, Belgium and

Germany the PSPLT has been

used successfully. Some results

of these tests are presented in

figures 5, 6 and 7. When these

test results were matched with

available static load tests, it

was observed that the PSPLT

results were some-what

optimistic for the ultimate pile

bearing capacity. However, the

tests gave a very good

indication with respect to

individual differences. In other

words: better performance

measured by the PSPLT gave

equally better results in the

static load test. Especially in

the elastic behaviour of the pile

the load-settlement curve is

identical to the load-settlement

curve of the static load test.

This phenomenon made it

useful to find "heaved" piles

[5]. The differences in stiffness

between piles can easily be detected.

A difference between the results of both PSPLT and static load tests at ultimate

bearing capacity was not expected. The Smith-model [6] is generally used to interpret

the influence of the velocity for dynamic tests. This model predicts for quasi-static pile

load tests a significant reduction of the velocity dependant component. The result from

the quasi-static tests showed that the parameters for the model are not applicable.

Therefore, results from tests in soils (like in The Netherlands) should be corrected,

something which is apparently not required in cases where piletips are embedded in

hard strata or rock [7]. This correction can be made by using the models from "short

term" dynamic load tests with new values for the parameters [8]. Furthermore, a new

simplified model for correction to ultimate bearing capacity is proposed [9].

Experience gained with the PSPLT results show that the present models are not

yet completely satisfactory. The creep behaviour of the bearing soil layer is not

considered and this is a likely explanation why the measured ultimate bearing capacity

derived from the PSPLT is larger than measured with a static load test. The same

phenomenon is also observed when bearing capacities were obtained by means of fast

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800

0

500

1000

1500

2000

time [ms]

fo

r

c

e

[

k

N

]

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800

-14

-12

-10

-8

-6

-4

-2

0

2

time [ms]

p

i

le

h

e

a

d

d

i

s

p

la

c

e

m

e

n

t

[

m

m

]

Figure 5. The measured force exerted by the PSPLT and the

measured displacement of the pilehead as a function of time.

executed static load tests (15 min.). Such tests showed better (=higher) results,

compared to standard static tests [10].

Further investigation will be necessary to find a better relation between the

results of the pseudo static load test and those of the common static test. The lack of

adequate and useful comparison tests is the reason that such a match has not yet been

well defined.

0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000

-20

-15

-10

-5

0

force [kN]

p

i

l

e

h

e

a

d

d

i

s

p

l

a

c

e

m

e

n

t

[

m

m

]

PSPLT measurement of heaved pile

continuous line

Figure 6. The load displacement curve generated by four consecutive dropheights. The continuous load settlement curve

is also shown.

0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000

-50

-40

-30

-20

-10

0

Loadt est Maasvlakt e Rotterdam

force [kN]

d

i

s

p

l

a

c

e

m

e

n

t

[

m

m

]

concrete pi le nr:6

Results static loadtest

Results PSPLT 12-04-95

Figure 7. Comparison between a static load test and a measurement with the PSPLT.

Conclusion

In checking the bearing capacity of piles the PSPLT method is quick, cheap and

useful. It offers the possibility to identify the stiffness and bearing capacity of

individual piles in a foundation. So far it is not yet possible to measure static ultimate

bearing capacity with a sufficient degree of accuracy. However, it may be expected that

future investigations will make this possible.

References:

1 Geerling, J., Stoevelaar, R., 1993, Nieuwe bevindingen omtrent een bekend paaltype. Cement nr 4 10-16.(in Dutch)

2 Bermingham P., Janes, M., 1989, An innovative approach to load testing of high capacity piles. Proceedings of the

International Conference on Piling and Deep Foundations, London, pp 409-413.

3 Gonin, H., Coelus, G., Leonard, M.S.M., 1984, Theory and performance of a new dynamic method of pile testing,

Proceedings of the Second International Conference on the Application of Stress Waves on Piles, Stockholm,

Balkema Rotterdam, pp 403-410.

4 Wolters H., Beschrijving van de PSPLT, (not published.)

5 Doornbos, S., Revoort, E.,Schoo, O., Tirkkonen, O., 1994, Comparison of pile loading tests and the phenomenon of

heave at Sachsen paper mill Eilenburg., Proceedings of the fifth International Conference on Piling and Deep

Foundations 13-15 June pp 4.2.1-4.2.12.

6 Smith, E.A. L., 1960, Pile Driving Analysis by the Wave Equation, J. Soil Mech.Found.,ASCE, Vol.86, No. SM4, pp

35-61.

7 Janes, M., Horvath, B.,1991, Pile load test results using the Statnamic method. 4th International DFI Conference at

Stresa, Piling and Deep Foundations, pp 481-489.

8 Chen, Y., Schellingerhout, A.J.G., van Weele, A.F., 1995, A New Pile Base Model for the Analysis of Pile Driving.

Proceedings of the Tenth Asian Regional Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering Aug 29- Sept 2

1995 Beijing China

9 Middendorp, P., Bermingham, P., Kuiper, B., 1992, Statnamic Load Testing of Foundation Piles, Proceedings of

Fourth International Conference on the Application of Stress Waves on Piles, the Hague, Balkema, pp 581-588.

10. de Kruijff, H., Kuiper, B., Vinks, T.J.N., 1993, Europaal, Cement nr 2 pp 6-14.(in Dutch)

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