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History of Pile Testing – TNO equipment

The first documented measurement of high-strain stress waves in a driven pile was published in England in 1938 (Glanville et al, 1938), but practical applications of high-strain stress-wave testing were developed more or less concurrently by a team at Case Western Reserve University in the United States, and the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).


High strain dynamic pile testing was developed initially for driven piles to determine bearing capacity; however, the calculation of pile stresses and the evaluation of pile damage were incorporated when it became evident that this information was equally useful.  Since 1974 the method has also been used to determine the capacity of drilled shafts.


The Dutch first discussed high-strain measurements in TNO report Number 341, published in 1956, which described stress-wave measurement during the driving of three piles for Jetty No. 1 in the Rotterdam Harbor project (Verduin, 1956).  At about the same time, De Josselin De Jong published an article that discussed what occurred in the soil during driving (De Jong, 1956).  Henk Van Koten led much of the TNO research at that time, and published a paper on stress-wave propagation in a driven pile in 1967 (Van Koten, 1967).


In the 1970’s Heerema started to research the dynamic behaviour of soil during driving. HBG (Hollandsche Beton Groep) started the development of the Hydroblok impact hammer. The Hydroblok was a high tech hammer based on nitrogen cushioning. HBG extended the theoretical solution of the wave equation (method of characteristics) with a straightforward theoretical solution for the shaft friction along the pile.  The research institute TNO started the development of the wave equation program TNOWAVE in the late 1970’s based on HBG’s friction model extension for the method of characteristics.


The TNO researchers were limited by the technology of the day, just as the Americans were, and practical equipment became commercially available at about the same time in both Europe and the United States.


The first portable pile testing system was developed by TNO under the supervision of Peter Middendorp and Fokke Reiding in 1984. The system was called  the “Foundation Pile Diagnostic System” (FPDS) and had several pile testing applications available in one system. :

  • Pile Driving Analyzer
  • Dynamic Load Tester
  • Sonic Integrity Tester
  • Driveability Analyzer (TNOWAVE)

fpds_1-system Click to view and download the original brochure:   Pile Driving Analyser TNO (1984) (1862 downloads)


Peter Middendorp is the present managing director of Allnamics Pile Testing Experts BV and Fokke Reiding is enjoying his retirement, but still active in the field of pile testing research and developments.







What happens in the soil during driving (1956) - Dutch (2090 downloads) . De Josselin De Jong, G. “Wat gebeurt er in de grond tijdens het heien” (What happens in the soil during pile driving) De Ingenieur, No. 25, Breda, Netherlands, 1956.


Glanville, W. H., Grime, G., Fox, E. N. and Davies, W. W. “An Investigation of The Stresses on Reinforced Concrete Piles During Driving” United Kingdom Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Building Research, Technical Paper No. 20, 1938.


Goble, G.G., Scanlon, R.H., and Tomko, J.J., "Dynamic Studies on the Bearing Capacity of Piles", Department of Civil Engineering, Case Institute of Technology, 1967.


Goble, G.G., Likins, G.E., and Rausche, F., "Bearing Capacity of Piles from Dynamic Measurements", Final Report, Department of Civil Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, March 1975.


Rausche, F., Moses, F., and Goble, G.G., "Soil Resistance Predictions from Pile Dynamics", Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundation Division, ASCE, Vol 98, No. SM9, September 1972.


Van Koten, H. “Spanningen in heipalen voor en tijdens het heien” (Stresswaves in piles before and during driving) CUR Rapport Nr. 42, CUR , Gouda, Netherlands, 1967.


Verduin, A. “Spanningsmetingen tijdens het heien verricht aan een dreital heipalen voor Pier 1 de Waalhaven” (Stresswave measurements during the driving of three piles for Jetty 1 of the Harbor (Rotterdam)) TNO Rapport Nr. 341, Delft, Netherlands, 1956.


Improved Pile Driving Analysis - Voitus van Hamme (1974) (2327 downloads)  Voitus van Hamme, G.E.J.S.L., Jansz J.W. Bomer H.,and Arentsen, D., 1974, Hydroblok and Improved Pile Driving Analysis. De Ingenieur, Vol 86, no 8. pp 344-352, The Netherlands.