The Federal Highway Administration Every Day Counts (EDC) Innovation Initiative was introduced in 2010 as a nationwide program intended to “identify and deploy innovative techniques and technology to meet the needs of the 21st century transportation system and economy”. The application of field-proven, market ready technologies and shortening project delivery are core elements of this initiative and Design Build is a highlighted approach.
The Design Build method of project delivery combines the design and construction phases of the project into a single contract, enabling concurrent design and construction activities. With Design Build, the contractors’ resources can be used to tailor the approach and there is significant flexibility in terms of applying unique technologies. This approach has been shown in numerous cases to reduce costs and accelerate construction delivery.
The SmartPile™ System directly supports several elements of the Every Day Counts initiative by:
- Meeting the requirement of applying field-proven and market-ready emerging technologies for construction. In the last 3 years, over a thousand SmartPiles have been driven in (mostly) Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Connecticut (recently), North, and South Carolina.
- Using technology to streamline the (concrete pile foundation) construction process, reducing costs (through higher resistance factors, and shorter piles resulting in faster installation) and improving quality (more testing, more reporting, and more data in support of LRFD). The SmartPile Foundation Structural Surety System (EDCs and SmartPile™ Workstations) was designed to enable full testing of concrete pile foundations with little impact to contractor (i.e. no testing time delays).
- Innovating the construction process, in that with the SmartPile™ System, it will soon be possible to eliminate traditional Test Pile programs and begin to drive piles directly, adjusting lengths based on results produced in the field in real time. This revolutionary change will eliminate significant time and delays associated with test pile programs in concrete pile driven foundations. In addition, the SmartPile™ System provides intelligent installation guidance using a measured pile tip to identify and help prevent pile end damage caused by overdriving, saving both time and money in costly rework.
- Supporting Green construction by reducing the amount of overall concrete used in the foundation (via a higher phi factor for full dynamic testing on the pile foundation). It’s been well documented that the manufacture of concrete produces significant CO2 emissions. With full dynamic testing, it is possible to reduce to overall overbuild of the foundation… meaning shorter piles and less concrete (emissions).
Through research and field proven validation supported by the Florida Department of Transportation, the SmartPile™ system from Smart Structures can be deployed on projects today. There is inventory support and an established network of trained installers and testers, and relative transparency to the pile casting and pile driving processes (as data collection is handled wirelessly).
Instrumenting Prefabricated Bridge Elements …
As well, SmartPile™ Embedded Data Collectors (or EDCs) can be used to instrument concrete prefabricated bridge elements, a key technology push with FHWA EDC. As with Piles, Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems (PBES) are manufactured at a local casting yard and delivered to the construction site for integration. By doing so, many time–consuming construction tasks no longer need to be done sequentially in work zones and overall quality is improved by better controlled processes and consistency (at the casting yard). With SSI EDCs, moving from Piles to concrete prefabricated bridge elements involves deciding what sensors to use and where to locate them.
Smart Structure’s Embedded Data Collectors can be configured with a mix of strain gages, temperature, and vibration sensors and located strategically in the prefabricated element prior to casting. These sensors can then be used for installation performance and quality monitoring (load monitoring) and then over the life of the structure. Our proven expertise in embedded active wireless electronics in concrete and working with Casting yards ensures that the structural element arrives ready to install and monitor. Our EDCs and monitoring software are also flexible enough to allow the sensing elements to be strategically placed to monitor installation and post installation live load stresses.
SmartPile™ EDCs have been instrumented in bridge caps for research monitoring and can be tailored to meet the other testing and evaluation programs.