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ICC-ES & A.B. Chance / Hubbell Respond to HPW Editorial Opinion

by Bill Bonekemper

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

October 3, 2012

HPW Publishes Response Letters from International Code Council

Evaluation Services (ICC-ES™) and A.B. Chance® / Hubbell® Pertaining

to HPW’s August 16, 2012 Editorial Opinion Concerning a  Potentially

Uneven Playing Field Relative to ESR-2794

On August 16th HPW published an editorial opinion that addressed the potential of an uneven playing field emerging for the helical pile industry by virtue of the release of ESR-2794 - the ICC-ES report certifying two helical pile products manufactured by A.B. Chance a division of Hubbell (Chance) - SS5 and SS175 round corner square bar. (read editorial opinion)

Since then HPW has been in discussions with representatives from ICC-ES and Chance about the points listed in the editorial.  Other interested people from within the helical pile industry have also been in contact with HPW concerning the questions raised in the editorial.  

Click here to read the ICC-ES response

Click here to read the Chance response

It should be noted that since HPW’s editorial was published, ESR-2794 (read revised version) has been revised.  The revisions are by no means the result of the publishing of the editorial, as the changes were apparently being worked on prior to publishing the editorial.  After reading the responses and having several discussions about ESR-2794 and comparing it to ESR-1854 (Ram Jack) and ESR-3032 (MacLean Dixie), opinions differ widely relative to some of the revisions in ESR-2794, and questions remain about sections where no changes were made.

All of the input and discussions have served to confirm just how complex the Acceptance Criteria AC358 really is.  The most significant contributing factor rests with the options manufacturers have for submitting capacity data for approval where they can mix or combine capacity data derived from engineering calculations, steel strength specifications and/or full scale field load tests.  This inherent complexity with all the potential permutations presents quite the challenge for the interpreters or gatekeepers of AC358 - the staff at ICC-ES.  As was mentioned to HPW in one conversation, the helical pile is a complex widget with many variables to consider when analyzing capacities for its various applications and associated variables.

One rather obvious thought comes to mind.  Maybe the ad hoc committee of helical manufacturers that came together to write and help develop AC358 for ICC-ES should have defined simpler and easier to interpret requirements for certification by relying more or entirely on full scale field load tests rather than allowing so many alternatives or options that introduce such complexity.  Absent a complete rewrite of AC358, the responsibility of keeping the playing field level for all manufacturers rests squarely with ICC-ES.  We encourage ICC-ES staff to be diligent in keeping the ESR report formats consistent and easy to interpret, so our industry can provide engineers and building officials with information that enhances their experience working with helical piles and leaves them with a positive feeling about our industry and our products.

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