Dynamic Testing Value for Pilings


Those who are not involved in the construction or foundation engineering industry never really understand the full scope of the work performed to ensure a building always remains a safe structure. Tasks such as the dynamic testing of piling and piling capacity never run through their minds. Yet, it is work of this nature that ensures a building is able to remain safe and structurally sound.

The old saying that a house cannot be built on a weak foundation is more than just a metaphor. It is a truism of foundation engineering. If the pilings in which a house, building, bridge, or other structure is built on is a weak foundation, then the safety of its integrity is going to be compromised. Dynamic testing has to be employed to make sure that the foundation truly is solid enough to deliver maximum safety.

Of course, a lot of work in foundation engineering can be found in the planning stage. The design of pilings on paper will go to great lengths to arrive at a blueprint that reflects pilings capable of being incredibly structurally strong. Software has been designed to aid in ensuring the actual pilings constructed are truly capable of doing what is expected of them, which is to hold up the foundation. While all these early stages of foundation engineering design are incredibly important, it is equally necessary to point out that without dynamic testing, no one can know for sure how strong the pilings really are.

Obviously, strong pilings are a must for the integrity of any structure to remain viably safe. Weak pilings can set the stage for a collapse. While the foundation might not collapse right away, the slow weakening of the foundation over time just might lead to a problem arising. The problem could, sadly, be an outright catastrophe. Rather than see such an outcome emerge, it would be far better to have dynamic testing performed on the structure.

Professional dynamic testing performed by skilled professionals with a strong background in foundation engineering can yield accurate estimates regarding how strong the pilings actually are. To ensure the tests are done right, it would be best to hire an experienced service that has conducted such tests with great accuracy on numerous structures. A review of the previous testing work the company has performed is a must when making a decision to procure these services.

Once the best company to perform the testing has been hired, then the process of determining the structural integrity of the pilings on a construction site can commence.

Pile Testing: What It Entails

Dynamic testing at a construction site can take many different forms. Pile testing is among the more common ones and it can also be considered one of the most important. This type of testing serves quite a few purposes. Among them would be the ability to determine full pile capacity. In other words, the testing can ascertain how much weight and how large of a structure the pilings can effectively support.

The reason dynamic testing must be conducted is the use of piles, in many construction projects, reflects the possible presence of an obstacle to building a structure. Namely, the foundation in which the structure is to be built upon might be far too shallow to carry the load of the building. Through the use of underground piles, the ability to establish a much more stable foundation for a structure is possible. In order to be sure that the installed piling truly can handle the load placed on top of them, pile testing must be performed. There are different types of pile testing strategies that can be undertaken. Of these various methods, dynamic testing might be the best mode to employ.

There are other forms of testing that can be employed other than dynamic testing. The problem with these methods is they may not be as accurate and, ironically, they can be more costly to perform. High end dynamic testing is likely the most modern and most reliable means of piling testing. As such, the dynamic method of testing is the one so many in foundational engineering will recommend.

Dynamic testing can entail several different actual tests. Structural integrity would clearly be among the most important tests, but it is not the only test to be performed. Load capacity may also be determined. How much stress the piles can endure would be another area of examination during the test. In short, the testing does try to gain the widest possible conclusions regarding what the piles are capable of handling.

If problems arise during the pile testing process, steps can be quickly taken to address them. It would be inaccurate to assume there are no ways to improve load capacity or overcome any failures that are noted in the testing. Tweaks, changes, and major fixes occur all the time during the construction phase. Improvements could very well be made after reviewing the results of pile testing. After all, this is the purpose of the testing in the first place.

Why A Slow and Deliberate Approach to Dynamic Testing Is Crucial

Dynamic testing is not something the average person is familiar with. Yet, people do reap the rewards and benefits of such testing each and every time they pass a bridge, building, or other structure that is supported by a pile head. While very strong, a pile head can only sustain a finite amount of pressure. Once the load capacity becomes too much, then the the structure run the risk of collapse.

This collapse might not occur the minute the weight of the load is placed on top of it. Those who work in geotechnical engineering know this. Pilings may be able to support a set amount of weight for the short term. However, the structural integrity of the pilings might slowly degrade and weaken over time. Eventually, the weight of the load becomes to much for the pilings to bear and a collapse is imminent.

Even a slight amount of weight can lead to a collapse. Again, quite some time might by before the actual collapse occurs. To avoid any devastating surprises, engineers will perform dynamic testing to determine how much stress is acceptable.

The process of load testing is both slow and deliberate. There is a very logical reason why such an approach is taken. The geotechnical engineering staff performing a test positively must be sure structural soundness is reliable. If not, then a collapse remains a possibility. Since lives are at risk in the event of a collapse, being very diligent with the dynamic testing process becomes an absolute must.

Dynamic testing might even take place over the course of several days. A week to ten days is not out of the question. In some cases, the tests may continue after the load has been removed to determine if any changes occur with the pilings. Once again, geotechnical engineering crews must be very sure that the pilings have passed all tests thoroughly. To do otherwise is to take a huge risk. Thorough testing is the only acceptable method for dynamic testing since the results may prove indisputable.

Any business or entity involved with building and construction must assuredly work with geotechnical engineering experts who are capable of performing the most effective testing possible. Reputable engineering firms are going to be more than willing to reveal how they plan to go about performing their tests. Reviewing the methods the geotechnical engineering testers employ prior to hiring is strongly recommended.