SOCOTEC Launches New Bidirectional Method for Pile Load Testing

25 August 2020

SOCOTEC, the UK’s leading provider of testing, inspection and compliance services, has introduced a new bidirectional pile load testing solution for heavily loaded piles.

The bidirectional pile testing method was developed to more clearly distinguish between shaft and end resistances and the true capacity of the element, particularly when dealing with long piles and high loads. SOCOTEC’s solution has been developed using Supercell® embedded elements, a cast-in-place loading system which produces the bidirectional axial loading forces during the testing process. The Supercell creates an extendable element within the structure that allows for separate movement in both the shaft and the base, providing individual data on the end bearing and shaft resistance and fully mobilising the base.

Initial installations and tests have been performed in conjunction with Franki Pile, whose low-headroom high capacity piles are well suited to the bidirectional test method. Alistair MacDonald, pre-construction director, Franki Foundations UK Ltd, commented: “Franki Foundations have been assisting SOCOTEC with the development of their new bidirectional test. Franki installed the first test within our new plant facility at Markham Moor and the process was seamless. We can see real benefits of using the product, especially when testing our specialist high capacity Martello Piles, which are usually installed in restricted site conditions where the use of standard testing frames is not possible.

Franki Pile, whose low-headroom high capacity piles are well suited to the bidirectional test method. Alistair MacDonald, pre-construction director, Franki Foundations UK Ltd, commented: “Franki Foundations have been assisting SOCOTEC with the development of their new bidirectional test. Franki installed the first test within our new plant facility at Markham Moor and the process was seamless. We can see real benefits of using the product, especially when testing our specialist high capacity Martello Piles, which are usually installed in restricted site conditions where the use of standard testing frames is not possible.

“Franki Foundations will be collaborating with SOCOTEC in the future on the back of the successful trials and already have opportunities for use in upcoming projects. The technical excellence of the SOCOTEC team really stood out during the development period.”

SOCOTEC’s new bidirectional test method offers a wide number of benefits. The load cell is incorporated within the steel reinforcement cage off site, and when used in conjunction with Thermal Integrity Profiling (TIP), can be loaded with no delay once the concrete has reached the required strength. In addition, all loading takes place underground, eliminating the need for enormous amounts of energy to be stored in highly loaded beams and thread bars, which takes time and space on site.

Bidirectional pile load testing can also be applied to a variety of foundation elements, including barrettes, bored piles, preformed steel and precast concrete. By making use of these different elements, the new approach can simplify design consistency across the entire foundation monitoring project by load testing each pile type with the same method, as well as broadening SOCOTEC’s existing range of static and integrity pile testing solutions.

“SOCOTEC’s new bidirectional pile load testing method represents a major development in the extension of our range of foundation testing solutions,” commented Martyn Ellis, operations director, Foundation Testing, SOCOTEC. “Having pioneered the introduction of CHUM®, Cross-hole Sonic Logging, Thermal Integrity Profiling (TIP), and more recently extended the boundaries of cyclic (axial and lateral) load testing, we now have the capabilities to load and integrity anywhere in Europe.

“Our collaboration with the UK’s leading universities has enabled us to establish ground-breaking design parameters – #PISA and #ALPACA – which are now available in the offshore wind farm industry. Moreover, the introduction of strain and temperature fibre optic strings highlights SOCOTEC’s innovative approach to enhancing the foundation monitoring industry.

“The new testing method will ensure that SOCOTEC continues to remain at the forefront when it comes to delivering specialist foundation monitoring services, helping us to assist our clients throughout the entire life cycle of their infrastructure project, no matter how big or small.”   

For more information about SOCOTEC’s foundation monitoring solutions, click here or contact us via this form.