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Missouri University of Science and Technology

Scholars' Mine
International Conference on Case Histories in (2008) - Sixth International Conference on Case
Geotechnical Engineering Histories in Geotechnical Engineering

Aug 11th - Aug 16th

New Pile Instrumentation Technique for Driven

and Jacked In Prestressed Spun Concrete Piles
Haji Ali Faisal
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sieng Kai Lee

University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Recommended Citation
Haji Ali Faisal and Sieng Kai Lee, "New Pile Instrumentation Technique for Driven and Jacked In Prestressed Spun Concrete Piles"
(August 11, 2008). International Conference on Case Histories in Geotechnical Engineering. Paper 21.

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Faisal, Haji Ali Lee, Sieng Kai,
Department of Civil Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering,
University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur


Currently, strain gauges are normally used to monitor the shortening or compression of pile during static pile load test.
For concrete spun pile, the technique used either by incorporating high temperature-resistant strain gauges into the heat-
cured production process of the spun piles or by installing an instrumented steel pipe into the hollow core of the spun
piles followed by cement grout infilling. The former is extremely unpopular due to high cost of these gauges and the
uncertainty over their ability to survive the pile production and driving processes. The shortcoming of the other technique
is the infilling of cement grout substantially alters the structural properties of the piles, thus rendering their load-response
behaviour significantly different from that of the actual working piles. This paper highlights the application of a method,
recently developed by the authors, which uses retrieval sensors instead of strain gauges which have to be sacrificed in
every test. The method also has the ability to monitor loads and displacements at various levels along the pile shaft and
toe of instrumented piles. Results of field tests show high quality, reliable and consistent data, clearly far exceeding the
capability of both conventional methods of using strain gauges.


The high strength prestressed spun concrete piles, Conventional Instrumentation Method
commonly driven with hydraulic impact hammers or
preferably installed with jacked-in rigs when considering A conventional instrumentation scheme for spun pile
the stricter regulations with respect to noise and static load testing is shown in Figure 1. The method
vibrations in more urban areas, often offer a competitive involves incorporating high temperature-resistant strain
choice of foundation system for projects with medium gauges into the heat-cured production process of
and high loadings. They are widely used in foundations prestressed spun concrete piles.
for schools, high-rise buildings, factories, ports, bridges
and power plants in this region. This method is extremely unpopular and difficult to be
routinely applied in project sites due to the following
In early years, the main construction control for driven constraints:
piles was mostly based on the measurement of set of each
pile coupled with a selected small number of non- (a) High cost of these temperature-resistant strain
instrumented static load tests to verify the specified load- gauges;
settlement requirements. (b) Tremendous difficulties involved in coordinating the
installation of the strain gauges into pile segments;
In recent years, with critical evolution in the (c) Long lead-time is normally required for
understanding of the load transfer and bearing behaviour instrumentation works, as the instruments have to be
of piles ( mainly through analysis of instrumented full- pre-assembled and installed onto the high strength
scale load tests), many engineers can now appreciate that prestressing bar cage prior to heat-cured spin-cast
the pile performance is not simply a matter of ultimate production process of the piles; and
load value alone [Chan, S.F. & Lee, C.S.P. ,1990; Chan, (d) Great uncertainty over the ability of the delicate
S.F., 2004]. According to Fleming [1996] some of the instruments to withstand the stresses arising from pile
basic parameters required for forecasting pile deformation production and driving processes.
under loads include (a) Ultimate shaft load and its
characteristics of transformation to the ground; (b)
Ultimate base load; (c) Stiffness of the soil below the pile Approximate Instrumentation Method
base; (d) Pile dimensions; and (e) Stiffness of the pile
material. Due to the difficulties of using the conventional method,
the engineering community for spun pile industry has
been using an approximate instrumentation method for

Paper No 1.17 1
the past few decades, by installing either an instrumented method, it was widely practiced in this region for the past
reinforcement cage or an instrumented pipe, into the few decades.
hollow core of spun piles followed by cement grout
infilling (Figure 2). Some contract specifications also ask for the inclusion of
conventional sleeved rod extensometers (depending on
Figure 3 shows typical sequence of spun pile installation the space available) to monitor the pile shortening
by jack-in method, commonly used vibrating wire strain reading during the static load tests. Either using an
gauges mounted to steel pipe, lowering of instrumented instrumented reinforcement cage or an instrumented
pipe into the annular space of the test pile followed by pipe, with or without the added-in sleeved rod
cement grout infilling. extensometers, the end product after the cement grout
N (blows/30cm) (Pile head) infilling is more towards a solid pile.
0 50 100 150
Existing Ground Level

Strain Gauges Lev. A


Hollow annular space

Spun Pile

Strain Gauges Lev. B

Depth (m)

Clay Strain Gauges Lev. C

Strain Gauges Lev. D


Strain Gauges Lev. E
Strain Gauges Lev. F
Fig. 3. Typical installation process of spun pile
Pile toe at 30.0 m depth
instrumentation in approximate method
denotes high temperature - resistant
SI borehole log Therefore the obvious shortcomings of this approximate
Strain Gauges
denotes Pile Joint method include:
Fig. 1. Diagrammatic illustration of conventional spun pile
instrumentation scheme (a) The infilling of cement grout substantially alters the
structural properties of the piles, thus rendering them
N (blows/30cm) (Pile head)
0 50 100 150
Existing Ground Level significantly different from the actual working spun
piles, which are usually not grouted internally;
Strain GaugesvLev. A (b) The change in strain in the post-grouted core under
the applied loading may not be the same as the
5 change in strain in the prestressed concrete wall of
the pile because of the different stiffness of the two
Instrumented Pipe
materials of different mix, strength and age;
Cement Grout
10 Spun Pile
(c) Structural shortening measurement of the test piles
are not representative of the actual working piles;
Strain Gauges Lev. B (d) Structural integrity of the original pile cannot be
reliably ascertained, particularly performance of pile
joints, during the static load test; and
Depth (m)

(e) Significant time loss due to grout infilling and
Clay Strain Gauges Lev. C curing process, beside the environmental unfriendly
nature of this method.

Strain Gauges Lev. D

Silt Strain Gauges Lev. E
30 Strain Gauges Lev. F To address the challenges and difficulties posed by the
Pile toe at 30.0 m depth conventional and approximate methods, retrieval sensors
Legends: hereby named as global strain extensometers for spun
denotes Vibrating Wire Strain Gauges piles had been developed, improved and field tested, by
SI borehole log
denotes Pile Joint the authors.

this2. approximate
illustration of approximatemore
is comparatively spun Description of the Global Strain Extensometer
pile to be implemented than the conventional

Paper No. 1.17 2

The technology consists of a deformation monitoring Due to the significant difference in the methodology
system that uses advanced pneumatically- or evolution, from conventional sacrificial cast-in method to
hydraulically-anchored extensometers coupled with a new retrievable post-install approach, the global strain
high-precision spring-loaded transducers, and a novel extensometer technology has been proven via a large
analytical technique to monitor loads and displacements number of full-scale load tests to be a reliable and
down the shaft and at the toe of foundation piles. This powerful pile load testing and data interpretation tool.
method is particularly useful for monitoring pile
performance and optimizing pile foundation design. Some of the obvious benefits of using global strain
extensometer technology are as follow:
To appreciate the innovation contained in the
technology, the basic deformation measurement in the N (blows/30cm) (Pile head)
pile by strain gauges and tell-tale extensometers are 0
0 50 100 150
Anchored Lev. 0 Existing Ground Level
reviewed. Normally, strain gauges (typically short gauge Global Strain Gauge Lev. A
length) are used for strain measurement at a particular Anchored Lev. 1 Extensometer Lev. 1
level or spot, while tell-tale extensometers (typically long
sleeved rod length) are used purely for shortening 5
measurement over an interval (over a length between two Global Strain Gauge Lev. B
levels). From a strain measurement point of view, the
strain gauge gives strain measurement over a very short 10
Hollow annular space
Spun Pile
gauge length while the tell-tale extensometer gives strain
measurement over a very long gauge length. Tell-tale Anchored Lev. 2 Extensometer Lev. 2
extensometer that measure strain over a very long gauge 15
length may be viewed as a very large strain gauge or Global Strain Gauge Lev. C

D epth (m )
simply called global strain extensometer. With recent
advancement in the manufacturing of high-precision Clay Anchored Lev. 3 Extensometer Lev. 3
spring-loaded vibrating-wire sensors, it is now possible 20

to measure strain deformation over the entire length of Global Strain Gauge Lev. D
piles in segments with ease during static load testing.
Anchored Lev. 4 Extensometer Lev. 4

Figure 4 shows a schematic spun pile instrumentation Sandy Global Strain Gauge Lev. E
diagram using the global strain extensometer. This Anchored Lev. 5 Extensometer Lev. 5
system is equivalent to the conventional method of using Global Strain Gauge Lev. F
30 Anchored Lev. 6 Extensometer Lev. 6
24 no. strain gauges and 6 no. sleeved rod extensometers,
Pile toe at 30.0 m depth
which might not be possible to be installed satisfactorily
due to congestion in the spun piles. denotes Glostrext anchored level
SI borehole log denotes Glostrext Sensor
For the analysis of test data for spun piles using the denotes Pile Joint
global strain extensometer, the load distribution can be
Fig. 4. Schematic diagram of typical instrumented
computed from the measured changes in global strain
spun pile using global strain extensometer
gauge readings and pile properties (cross-section area of
spun pile and concrete modulus). Load transferred (PAve)
at mid-point of each anchored interval can be calculated
as: (i) The technology enables installation of
instrumentation after pile-driving and thus virtually
P = (Ec Ac ) (2) eliminates the risk of instrument damage during pile
production and installation;
where, (ii) The post-install nature of the method empowers
engineers to select instrumentation levels along the
as-built depth of foundation piles using pile
= average change in global strain gauge readings; driving/installation records and site investigation
Ac = cross-sectional area of spun pile section; data as guides;
Ec = concrete secant modulus in pile section. (iii) The technology reliably measures segmental
shortening/elongation and strain over an entire
With the instrumentation set-up as described in Figure 4, section of the test pile during each loading step of a
the global strain extensometers system is able to measure typical static load test. Unlike the conventional
shortening and strains over an entire section of the test strain gauges that make just localized strain
pile during each loading steps of a typical static pile load measurements, the new technology integrates
test, thus it integrates the strain over a larger and more individual measurements over a larger and more
representative sample. representative sample;
(iv) Significant cost and time saving, as the additional
and cement grout infilling are not required;
(v) The technology is extremely environmental friendly,
as the sensors are retrievable, and no messing
around with cement grouts; and
Advantages of Using the Global Strain Extensometer (vi) Mass implementation of spun piles instrumentation
is now made viable with this technology, to capture

Paper No. 1.17 3

representative and reliable data in large quantities to
assist engineers to build up a reliable databank for
better design and safety.


The technology has been recently used to fully

instrument a 500 mm diameter (with 90 mm wall
thickness) jacked in prestressed spun concrete pile for a
commercial building project in the state of Melaka,
Malaysia. The test pile instrumentation details along with
nearby borehole SPT N-values plot are graphically
represented in Figure 5. The pile was jacked-in to 30m
penetration length when the jack-in force reached
approximately two times working load or 4000kN. The
jack-in frame was also used for subsequent static load Fig. 6. Static axial compression load test set-up for Test
test (Figure 6). Pile 1 at Melaka site, Malaysia

500mm Instrumented Spun Pile

Pile top (RL +3.0m)
N (blows/30cm)
0 50 100 150 200
0 0.0 m EGL (RL +2.5 m)

1.0 m Global Strain Gauge Lev. A (RL +1.5m)

2.0 m Extensometer Lev. 1 (RL +0.5m)

4 spun pile

8 7.5 m Global Strain Gauge Lev. B (RL -5.0m)

10 hollow core
Fig. 7. Instrumentation and monitoring test set-up for
Test Pile 1 at Melaka site, Malaysia

12.5 m Extensometer Lev. 2 (RL -10.0m) 6000 6000

5000 5000
Pile Head Load (kN )
Pile Head Load (kN )

16 15.5 m Global Strain Gauge Lev. C (RL -13.0m) 4000 4000

D ep th (m )

3000 3000
2000 2000
18.5 m Extensometer Lev. 3 (RL -16.0m)
1000 1000
Clay 0 0
22 21.5 m 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Global Strain Gauge Lev. D (RL -19.0m)
Pile Head Settlement (mm) Pile Settlement (mm) at 12.5m depth
6000 6000
24.5 m Extensometer Lev. 4 (RL -22.0m)
26 25.5 m Global Strain Gauge Lev. E (RL -23.0m) 5000 5000
Pile Head Load (kN )

Pile Head Load (kN )

26.5 m Extensometer Lev. 5 (RL -24.0m)
Global Strain Gauge Lev. F (RL -25.0m) 4000 4000
28 27.5 m
28.5 m Extensometer Lev. 6 (RL -26.0m) 3000 3000
29.0 m Global Strain Gauge Lev. G (RL -26.5m) ` `
30 29.5 m Extensometer Lev. 7 (RL -27.0m) 2000 2000
Pile toe at 30.0 m depth (RL -27.5m)
32 Legend: 1000 1000
denotes Glostrext anchored level
0 0
denotes Glostrext Sensor 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Pile Settlement (mm) at 18.5m depth Pile Settlement (mm) at 24.5m depth
SI Borehole BH 4
6000 6000
Fig. 5. Test Pile 1 instrumentation using global strain 5000 5000
Pile Head Load (kN )

Pile Head Load (kN )

4000 4000

3000 3000
` `

2000 2000

1000 1000

0 0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

Pile Settlement (mm) at 26.5m depth Pile Toe Settlement (mm)

Fig. 8. Pile head settlement and pile settlement at

various depths including pile toe for Test Pile 1 at
Melaka site, Malaysia
Paper No. 1.17 4
Pile head movement was monitored using both Linear A conspicuous benefit which can be derived from the
Variation Displacement Transducers (LVDTs) and by plots shown in Figure 8 and Figure 9 is that they enable
affixing pile tops with vertical scale rules that could then engineers and researchers nowadays to have an
be sighted by precise level instruments. Vertical scales opportunity to have an insight understanding on the
were similarly provided on the reference frame to relationship between the pile settlement along the pile
monitor frame movements during load testing. The depth and the corresponding load transfer characteristics.
applied loads were measured by calibrated vibrating-wire
load cell. The vibrating-wire load cell, global strain
extensometers and LVDTs were all logged automatically CONCLUSIONS
using a Micro-10x datalogger system (Figure 7).
Considering the inherent shortcomings of conventional
and approximate instrumentation method for spun piles,
Applied pile head load, Pt ,
measured by VW Load Cell
S e c a n t M o d u lu s , E c ( k N /m m 2 )
the global strain extensometer technology appeared to be
55 a more superior and logical evolution due to its
0.0 m
revolutionary difference in the methodology approach,
1.0 m Level A Global Strain from conventional sacrificial cast-in method to a new
2.0 m Extensometer to verify and back- 45 retrievable post-install nature. Field tests using this
calculate concrete modulus, Ec,
spun pile using PA = Pt 40 technology on both driven and jacked-in spun piles
showed high quality, reliable and consistent data, clearly
far exceeding the capability of both conventional and
30 approximate methods.
The advanced features and novel nature of the global
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
strain extensometer technology also made it an improved
Measured Axial Strain ( x 10 ) at Lev A alternative of instrumentation approach to the following
research areas, where it could be too cumbersome and
Loads ( kN) 600
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 sometimes economically not viable if using conventional

and approximate methods:
M o b ilis e d U n it S h a ft F r ic tio n ( k N /m

500 Lev A to Lev C

Lev C to Lev D
(a) Fully instrumented piles for long term load transfer
D e p th b e lo w p la tfo r m le v e l (m )

400 Lev D to Lev E
characteristic study, including both positive and
Lev E to lev F
10 negative skin friction development with time;
300 Lev F to Lev G
(b) Study of locked-in stresses in piles due to handling
15 and installation process, particular suitable for
jacked-in piles;
20 (c) Fully instrumented piles for study of influence due
to installation process of adjacent piles;
25 (d) Study of pile joints performance under loadings;
0 (e) Mass implementation of spun piles instrumentation
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
in fast- track projects.
Movement of Pile between soil stratum ( mm )

Fig. 9. Level A sensor arrangement for verifying and REFERENCES

back-calculate Ec values, modulus-strain curve,
load distribution curve and mobilized unit shaft Chan, S.F. [2004]. Special lecture, design and
friction versus average movement of pile construction of Foundations for Suntec City, Singapore,
between soil stratum measured using global Proceedings of the Malaysian Geotechnical Conference,
strain extensometer for Test Pile 1 Malaysia, pp 21-43

Chan, S.F. & Lee, C.S.P. [1990.] The design of

Pile head settlement and pile settlement at various depths foundations for Suntec City, Singapore , Proceedings of
including pile toe (derived by subtracting the structural Conference on Deep Foundation Practice, Singapore.
shortening at corresponding depth from the pile head
settlement) are presented in Figure 8. Fleming, K. [1992] A new method for single pile
settlement prediction and analysis ,Geotechnique 42,
In the pile test analysis, it is highly recommended in No.3, 411-425.
practical terms to obtain the pile concrete modulus, Ec
value directly from the material of the pile Fleming, K. Fleming, K. [1996]. Talking Point: Ken Fleming assesses
[1992] . Global strain extensometer technology appeared the present major issues in the pile testing industry. Page
to provide an excellent answer to this recommendation 3, Ground Engineering October 1996.
(Figure 9), giving a reliable site-specific calibration of
strain-dependent modulus to be ascertained before
converting strains into axial loads.

Paper No. 1.17 5