Dynamic Load Test for Pile : An Overview

Dynamic load test for pile is a method which we use to assess the integrity and load-bearing capacity of piles used in construction projects. It involves applying a series of impacts to the top of the pile and measuring the response, or the way the pile behaves under the load. We use this information to determine the suitability of the pile for its intended purpose. Chiefly, this test helps us identifying any potential problems before we use the pile to support a structure.

Civil engineers use Dynamic testing to evaluate the performance of piles in construction sites. Especially in situations where the soil conditions are uncertain or where the piles need to support heavy loads. However, the construction industry frequently employs this technique since it is dependable and economical for determining how well piles work.

Importance of Dynamic Load Test

Dynamic testing is important because it provides valuable information about the performance of piles in construction projects. Firstly, Dynamic testing can provide information about the pile’s load-bearing capacity. Secondly we get the information of potential issues with the pile. Thirdly, we can know if the pile is adequate for its adequate purpose or not. This information is critical for ensuring the safety and stability of structures built on piles.

It can also help to optimize the design of piles, by providing information about the behavior of the pile under different loads. In order to make the pile as effective as feasible in terms of cost, time, and performance, we can adjust the design of the pile using this information.

How to Conduct Dynamic Load Test

Dynamic load testing of bore piles involves measuring the pile’s response to high-frequency, high-amplitude loads. The following steps summarize the process:

Preparation: We’ll prepare the structure that we want to test by installing sensors, such as load cells and accelerometers. We should install these to the correct depth and level and clear the obstructions from site.

Loading: We apply the dynamic loads to the structure using an impact source such as a drop weight, hammer, or seismic shaker. At first we’ll position the impact source at various points along the structure and apply the load repeatedly to obtain a complete understanding of the structure’s behavior.

Data Collection: We can measure the response of the structure to the dynamic loads using the sensors installed during the preparation phase. The data collected includes the structure’s velocity, acceleration, and load-displacement behavior.

Analysis: Then we analyze the collected data to determine the structure’s dynamic behavior, including its natural frequency, damping ratio, and maximum impedance. We usually use specialized software or by manual calculations to analyze the pile performance.

Interpretation: We interpret the results of the analysis to determine the structure’s capacity and suitability for its intended application. We can also use the results to evaluate the structure’s response to seismic and other dynamic loads.

Dynamic Load Testing is a complex and specialized testing method that requires specialized equipment and expertise to perform correctly. It provides valuable information about the structure’s dynamic behavior, which is essential for ensuring its safe and effective performance in service.

Terminology of Dynamic Load Test

Cushion— the material inserted between the drive cap on top of the pile and the pile.

Impact event— the period of time during which the pile is moving in a positive and/or negative direction of penetration due to the impact force application.

Pile impedance— indicates the resistance a pile has to a sudden impact change in velocity. We can calculate it by multiplying the cross-sectional area with Young’s Modulus of Elasticity and dividing the product by the strain wave speed. Alternatively, we can calculate the impedance by multiplying the unit specific density by the wave speed and cross-sectional area.

Z = AE/c = ρcA


Z = Impedance,

A = Cross-sectional area,

E = Young’s Modulus of Elasticity,

C = Wave speed of pile, and

r = Unit specific density.

Strain wave speed (or wave speed)– the speed with which a strain wave propagates through a pile. it is a property of the pile composition.

Particle velocity—the instantaneous velocity of a particle in the pile as a strain wave passes by

Apparatus for Dynamic Load Test

Apparatus for Applying Impact Force: Any conventional pile driving hammer or similar

device is acceptable for applying the impact force. A hammer mass of about 1 to 2% of the test load is generally sufficient.

Fig: Drop Weight

Apparatus for Obtaining Dynamic Measurements:

– Force or Strain Transducers- Acceleration, Velocity or Displacement Transducers

– Placement of Transducers

Fig: Apparatus for Obtaining Dynamic Measurements

Apparatus for Recording, Reducing and Analyzing Data

– Recording Apparatus

-Apparatus for Reducing Data

Fig: Apparatus for Recording, Reducing and Analyzing Data

Fig: Apparatus for Recording, Reducing and Analyzing Data (at field)

Procedure of Dynamic Load Test

1. Load Impact

We’ll apply the load by an impact hammer or a suitable drop weight onto the prepared pile head for a minimum period of 3 ms. So the device shall be positioned so that the impact is applied axially to the head of the pile and concentric with the pile. Before load impact, a cushion is placed on top of the pile. Usually plywood is used as cushion material.

2. Signal Recording

The generated compression waves travel down the pile and reflects upwards. This reflected wave contains information about the shaft friction, toe resistance and possible pile defects. The transducers accept the signals and forwards them to the DLT signal processor.

3. Signal Processing

The measured signals are processed and automatically stored by the PDA/DLT-system. The measured signal is introduced as input to the pile-soil system at the instrumentation level. During the analysis, the analytical signal is calculated and compared to the measured signal in DLTWAVE software. Since the properties of the pile are modelled very accurately, any difference between the measured and calculated signal is because of the soil model.

The soil parameters throughout the soil profile are changed until good agreement is obtained between the measured and calculated signal. Good signal matching is strongly influenced by the quality of the measured signals and, thus, only the best quality signals should be used. When the static and dynamic components of the soil resistance along the pile and underneath the pile have been determined from signal matching, the static bearing capacity of the pile can be calculated by DLTWAVE software.

Fig: Screenshot from the PDA/DLT software.

Fig: Sample Signal Match

What Is Measured During Dynamic Pile Load Test?

Dynamic testing measures several key parameters that are important indicators of the performance of piles. These parameters include:

Stiffness: The stiffness of a pile is a measure of its resistance to deflection. It is an important indicator of the load-bearing capacity of the pile.

Damping: Damping is a measure of the energy dissipation of the pile. It is an important indicator of the stability of the pile, as well as its ability to absorb energy.

Frequency: The frequency of a pile is a measure of the number of cycles of motion it undergoes in a given period of time. It is an important indicator of the natural period of the pile, which is a measure of the pile’s stability.

Resistance: The resistance of a pile is a measure of the force required to drive the pile into the ground. It is an important indicator of the load-bearing capacity of the pile.

What Are the Benefits of Dynamic Pile Load Test?

One of the key benefits of pile dynamic testing is its ability to provide accurate and reliable data on the pile’s load-bearing capacity. The test can identify any weak points or areas of the pile that are likely to fail under heavy loads, which helps engineers determine the most appropriate design for the foundation.

Another benefit of pile dynamic testing is that it can be performed in real-time, which means that engineers can quickly make changes to the pile’s design if needed. Moreover this can save time and money by avoiding the need for additional tests or rework rather it helps to ensure that the foundation is built to the highest standards.

As I said, The pile dynamic test is also a non-destructive method of evaluating the pile’s strength and integrity, which means that the pile can continue to be used after the test is complete. This is particularly beneficial for projects where the piles are already in place, as it avoids the need for costly and time-consuming excavation work.

In conclusion, pile dynamic testing is a valuable tool for ensuring the quality and reliability of deep foundations in construction projects. The test provides accurate and reliable data on the pile’s load-bearing capacity and behavior under load, which helps engineers determine the most appropriate design for the foundation. With its non-destructive testing methods and real-time analysis capabilities, pile dynamic testing is a critical component of any construction project that requires deep foundations.

Referenced Documents

ASTM Standards for Dynamic Load Test:

1- C 469- Test Method for Static Modulus of Elasticity and Poisson’s Ratio of Concrete in Compression

2- D 198- Methods of Static Tests of Timbers in Structural Sizes

3- D 653- Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids

4- D 1143- Test Method for Piles Under Static Axial Compressive Load

5- D 4945- Standard Test Method for High-Strain Dynamic Testing of Piles
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