Posted on September 21, 2021

Let’s Break Stuff - Full Scale Testing

Ben Dalsing | Plant Engineer


For our engineers, being inventive is both a necessary aspect of their job and one of the perks. With 21 professional engineers, along with a handful of EITs, we can design, produce and build any landmark you can imagine. Seven of our engineers work full time on process improvement and product development, bringing a new way of thinking and creating to all departments.

Why dedicate so many resources to innovation? To inspire pride within communities and help them thrive by transforming how our partners think, design, construct, and succeed.

 

One aspect of this is full-scale testing. For us, full-scale testing is the process of making a full-size piece of concrete and evaluating the performance.

Sometimes that includes breaking it.

There are many reasons for full-scale testing, including: validating design methods, developing new products, and developing new processes.

The first full-scale testing I was involved with was load-testing a parking double tee in 2005. A team of Wells engineers designed the test procedure and performed the loading. The reason for testing was to validate the double tee design for deflection and shear.

The load test was successful - we loaded the tee with the equivalent weight of 30 cars in three parking spaces! I was surprised by the flexibility and durability of the double tee. After the weight was removed the double tee returned to be being flat.

 

Once a year I perform ‘A simple quality assurance test for strand bond,’ AKA ‘The Peterman Test.’ It is a PCI-approved testing method to verify that the concrete we pour bonds to the prestressing strand. Strand-bonding is important because the potential energy in the prestressed strand transfers to the concrete through bonding. If there is a lack of bonding, the potential energy is lost.

The test is simple. Load the beam to 100% of the theoretical capacity. If the beam does not break, we pass. If the beam breaks, we fail. Since the creation of the Peterman Test in 2009, all the beams I have tested have passed.

 

Most of the time testing is well-planned and organized but sometimes it is necessary to skip the scientific process and simply ‘overload it and see what happens.’ One example of this was load-testing dap steel in a beam in 2008. We know the design method of dap steel is conservative and we wanted to validate the capacity of the beam end, so we set three crane counterweights on the end of the beam.

But the beam didn’t break!

These are just a few examples of our dedication to quality and innovation. The Wells team will continue to find new ways to solve problems and deliver the best solutions. And if that means breaking stuff, we’ll do that too.

Ben Dalsing
Plant Engineer

 

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