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How Using the Pile Driving Analyzer® (PDA) Can Benefit Your Next Project

Engineers are always searching for less expensive and more efficient methods of evaluating engineered systems and materials. Our Geotechnical Engineers at Hillis-Carnes are no different. Our Clients come first, which is why we apply the concept of value engineering, and design our foundations and structures to account for safety and longevity, while also avoiding unnecessary expenditures. When testing and monitoring a driven deep foundation installation, using the Pile Driving Analyzer® (PDA) is the most practical solution, and we’ll explain why in just a moment. If you are not familiar with what a deep foundation is, it essentially is a type of foundation that transfers building loads to the earth farther down from the surface. In one deep foundation option, a slender vertical element, called a pile, is driven into the ground at the building site during construction. During pile installation, the use of a PDA is a proven and beneficial method that has been around for quite some time and has been used for numerous projects in the Mid-Atlantic, yet it still seems to be underutilized.

Geotechnical Engineers use PDA testing as a fast and economical alternative to performing multiple static load tests on a project. PDA helps monitor driving stresses, helps reduce the risk of pile damage, and provides capacity of the pile in real time. If stresses indicate a high potential for pile damage, driving can be stopped and our Geotechnical Engineers can determine alternative installation procedures to ensure foundations and structures are being designed safely. PDA can also be used to monitor the hammer energy/performance during the driving operations. The ultimate pile capacity, including end bearing and soil resistance distribution along the shaft, is then determined using data analysis software called CAPWAP, which stands for Case Pile Wave Analysis Program. This software has transformed the standards and practice for evaluating the pile capacity, and not only can more pile tests be performed in a shorter period of time, but the piles are monitored in real time, which therefore provide immediate results for the Client.

The use of the PDA enables the capacity of several piles to be assessed in a single day, thus saving you both time and money. Hillis-Carnes has the equipment and technical expertise to provide PDA services. To find out more about the Pile Driving Analyzer® (PDA) and how it can benefit your next project, please contact Principal Engineer, Mr. Michael P. Johnson, PE, at (410) 880-4788 or