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CTL/Thompson Helical Pile Product Accreditation Testing Services
by Moncef Souissi
Traditional Geotechnical Engineering Services Company
Offers Important Services for Helical Pile Manufacturers
Way, way back in 2006, Dr. Howard Perko, then CTL/Thompson (www.ctlthompson.com) division manager, conceived the idea of creating a unique service for the sole purpose of providing field and laboratory testing of helical piles for manufacturers attempting to obtain building code certification under AC358 – the International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) (www.icc-es.org) acceptance criteria for helical piles. It took a lot of work and corporate budget wrangling before Dr. Perko convinced CTL’s senior management to commit the funds necessary to outfit the testing laboratory, to obtain the required International Accreditation Service (IAS) (www.iasonline.org) certification and to staff the lab with personnel. The good news for CTL/Thompson, as it turns out, is that Dr. Perko was successful.
Now fast forward to today, and CTL/Thompson boasts the largest service of its kind in North America, and most of the credit can be attributed to some long hours and demanding work by two CTL engineers – Chip Leadbetter, former North Colorado Division Manager, and Moncef Souissi, Program Technical Manager. Leadbetter assumed the Division Manager position when Perko moved on in 2009, and since that time the helical pile testing business has grown several fold. “As with any new venture, there are significant hurdles to be crossed each and every week, and we had to maintain the vision and stay focused on our objectives for clearing each challenging hurdle,” Leadbetter stated back in 2011. “Moncef certainly deserves much of the credit as the go to person on the team – we wouldn’t be where we are today without his untiring dedication and commitment,” he added. Mr. Leadbetter recently left CTL/Thompson on good terms, but the program that he and Moncef shaped continues today under Moncef’s leadership.
CTL has endeavored to be a full-service provider of engineering support to clients. By virtue of its very good relationship with IAS and ICC, CTL has been able to fulfill the testing needs of a variety of clients. Sometimes this included adding new testing methods to CTL’s accreditation on short notice in order to serve the customer. Maintaining a variety of unique testing equipment, including a 1 million inch-pound torsion testing device, CTL has the resources to provide the testing services clients need, not only for ICC submittals but also for product development. “We provide material and component testing for several clients who are trying out new manufacturing methods and different materials,” explained CTL’s Souissi.
The CTL suite of helical pile testing services has been certified by IAS and CTL’s accredited test lab number is TL-342. The services required to comply with ICC-ES’s AC358 include:
Laboratory Capacity Test Services
Torsion (lead component, couplings, shafts, helices)
Field Capacity Test Services
Axial Compression Load Test
Axial Tension Load Test
Lateral Load Test
Side-Load Bracket Test
CTL began offering the AC358 testing services in late 2006, and since that time the company has provided these services for many of the helical manufacturers in the U.S. As AC358 evolves over the coming years and manufacturers wish to gain certifications for other helical pile products, it’s easy to see a strong future for this valuable CTL service.
It is noteworthy to mention that the maximum helical pile shaft diameter now defined in AC358 is 3.5” O.D. CTL has performed testing not related to AC358 on customer products up to 20” O.D. shaft and helix bearing plates up to 40” in diameter. In addition, CTL’s testing capabilities have connected them with providers of non-helical, manufactured steel foundations such as push piers (AC406), Screw piles (AC443) and a variety of unitized sign foundations.
CTL Adds Another Important Service for Helical Pile Manufacturers
Continuing the focus of full engineering service support to the industry, CTL has recently added a new service – providing manufacturing quality audits. This service is tied to the ICC-ES acceptance criteria for helical piles - AC358, which requires quarterly independent quality audits of the manufacturing process by an auditing agency accredited by the IAS inspection service agency. CTL sought the accreditation, created an auditing program, acquired the necessary auditor training and was awarded certification from IAS in September to offer this service - becoming Inspection Agency No. AA-735.
“We are very pleased to receive this certification from IAS, as now we can provide a one-stop service for helical pile manufacturers that need to stay in conformance with AC358. The manufacturing quality audit covers a wide variety of aspects of product production including quality control procedures and documentation, raw material certifications, manufacturing error identification and resolution, sub-contractor qualification and many more. Our experience in the helical industry brings a practical and realistic view to providing audits. We understand what helical pile manufacturers produce, how the products are installed and the pressures inherent in the industry. Our goal is to work closely with clients to improve manufacturing processes, to minimize errors and to reduce costs,” Souissi added.
As the industry continues to grow and change to adapt to the construction industry, helical product providers will be growing and changing their offerings to stay competitive. CTL is committed to following the needs of their clients, fulfilling the needs of manufacturers and easing the headaches of gaining and maintaining product certification.