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Geotechnical Engineering Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers

Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation http://dx.doi.org/10.1680/geng.13.00140

in a bored pile Paper 1300140
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz Received 21/10/2013 Accepted 08/09/2014
Keywords: field testing & monitoring/geotechnical engineering/strength &
testing of materials

ICE Publishing: All rights reserved

Appraisal of reliable skin friction

variation in a bored pile
1 Ramli Nazir PhD j
3 Mansour Mosallanezhad PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Geotechnics and Transportation, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental
Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Engineering, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran
Johor, Malaysia j
4 Alireza Tourtiz MSc
2 Hossein Moayedi PhD Lecturer, Department of Civil Engineering, Beyza Branch, Islamic
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Kermanshah Azad University, Beyza, Iran
University of Technology, Kermanshah, Iran

1 j
2 j
3 j

The design of bored piles in Malaysia is usually based on the results of the standard penetration test. It is important
to predict the geotechnical capacity of a designed bored pile through the multilayer soil strata. The back-analysis of a
test pile is a reliable means of obtaining the range for the ultimate skin factor (Ksu) and the ultimate end-bearing
factor (Kbu). In this research, two case histories of maintained load tests on single bored piles (PTP-1 and 2) under
full-scale static load (up to twice designed load) are examined. Measurements are taken using various embedded
transducers, including both conventional instrumentation and a state-of-the-art global strain extensometer. The
results show the rates of the pile base and pile head load mobilisation with settlement, the variation of the skin
friction factors and stresses along the pile, and their proportion in relation to the total pile capacity. The Ksu and Kbu
factors for both tested piles are obtained and compared using a conventional vibrating-wire global strain gauge and
a global strain extensometer. It is also observed that for the stiff soil layers the skin friction is significant. However,
the increase in the applied load increases the proportion carried by the end-bearing.

1. Introduction (Meyerhof and Yalcin, 1983; Poulos, 1989, 2007). For large-
Bored piles are commonly used as foundations to support heavily diameter piles, settlement can be large; therefore, a safety factor
loaded structures, such as high-rise buildings and bridges, in view of 2–2 .5 is usually used on the working load. Accordingly, a safe
of their low noise, low vibration and flexibility of sizes to suite load (or designed load) can be calculated from the working load
different loading conditions and subsoil conditions. These piles divided by the factor of safety specified for a particular project.
are sometimes referred to as ‘bored cast-in-place piles’, as It should be mentioned that, in maintained load tests (MLTs), the
specified in BS EN 1997 (BSI, 1990). The bored piles are formed piles are loaded up to a point near the safety factor times the
by boring using a suitable type of machine. Subsequently, the maximum load transferred from the above structures. However,
holes are filled with high-workability concrete and some the pile will not approach failure during the test. Prakash and
reinforcement. Their usual sizes are between 750 mm and Sharma (1990) have stated that the design load may be
3000 mm diameter, with a capacity that can achieve a very high determined by consideration of either shear failure or settlement,
working load depending on the pile size and geological profile and that it is the lower of the following two values: (a) the
near the pile (Fang, 2002). A higher pile capacity will reduce the allowable load obtained by dividing the ultimate failure load with
pile cap size and the number of piles in the group. a particular factor, or (b) the load corresponding to an allowable
settlement of the pile.
It is well established that the ultimate bearing capacity of a pile
used in a design may be determined by one of three values: Numerous studies exist regarding the prediction of the geotechni-
(a) the maximum load, Qmax, at which further settlement (or cal capacity of bored piles through soft soil and weak rock
penetration) occurs without the load increasing; (b) a calculated (Hooley and Brooks, 1993; Ng et al., 2001; Xu et al., 2009; Zou,
value which is required based on the sum of end-bearing and 2013). There are also various studies on the long-term measure-
skin friction (shaft resistances); or (c) the load at which a ment of strain in instrumented piles. Kister et al. (2007) used
settlement of 0 .1 diameter (0 .1D) occurs (when Qmax is not clear) Bragg grating sensors for the strain and temperature monitoring

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

of reinforced concrete foundation piling. They were able to mobilisation with settlement; (b) the variation of the stresses
successfully measure the change in the strain distribution along along the pile.
the whole depth of the foundation piles. Fellenius et al. (2009)
explored the long-term monitoring (200 days record) of strain in 2. Experimental set-up
two 31 m and 56 m long instrumented post-driving grouted The prediction of the load capacity for a pile foundation is most
cylinder piles at a site west of Busan, South Korea. They quickly done through a field test accompanied by the semi-
monitored the unexpected elongation of the pile, probably due to empirical method (Abu Kiefa, 1998; Anoyatis and Mylonakis,
swelling from the absorption of water; however, as the soil 2012; Coop and Wroth, 1989; Robertson et al., 1985). Thus, any
reconsolidated, the elongation shortened, probably because of the prediction or calculation should be justified through a full-scale
imposed residual load in the pile. Brown et al. (2006) have stated test (Fellenius et al., 2009). Axial pile load tests are among the
that the existing methods for test analysis generally overpredict design procedures of most major construction projects that
pile capacities by up to 50% for clays. They studied the load- include pile foundations, and the aim is to determine both the
transfer mechanisms of rapid axial loading on a full-scale pile stiffness and the ultimate bearing capacity at the designed
instrumented pile in a glacial lodgement till near Grimsby, UK. load depth (Comodromos et al., 2003). An MLT is one of the
In order to gain insight into the load-transfer mechanisms of a best tests for predicting the actual behaviour of the axial pile
rapidly loaded pile in clay, they compared the shaft frictions capacity (Brown et al., 2006; Consoli et al., 2003; Dai et al.,
derived from the strain-gauged reinforcement in the pile with 2012; Hölscher et al., 2012; Salgado, 2013; Zhang et al., 2008).
shear strains and stresses derived from accelerations in the In an MLT, the load is applied in increments (in the vertical
surrounding soil. It can be seen that the design and the construc- direction), each being held until the rate of movement at both the
tion of a bored pile are highly empirical and that they are, top and base of the pile has reduced to an acceptably low value
perhaps, more an art than a science (Tomlinson and Woodward, before the next load increment is applied (Tomlinson and
2003). In tropical soils, which generally have complex soil Woodward, 2003). It is, however, important to mention that the
characteristics, the construction of a bored pile is a preferred reliability of the result will depend upon the instrumentation used
option in comparison to other types of pile. to acquire the relevant data.

In Malaysia, the design of bored piles is usually based on the The MLT test presented in this research is based on the reaction
results of the standard penetration test (SPT). The empirical pile system. The test follows the method described in the ASTM
approach to ultimate unit skin resistance ( fs) relates to standard D1143/D1143M-07 (ASTM, 2013). The clear distance
Ksu 3 SPT, while the same approach to ultimate base resistance between the edges of the reaction pile to the edge of the test pile
( fb) relates to Kbu 3 SPT. Both relationships are widely used in should not be less than five times the diameter of the largest pile.
common design works (Hanifah and Lee, 2006). To evaluate Ksu In the set-up used, the piles were loaded using hydraulic jacks
and Kbu, the values of the local soil conditions are required, and acting against the main beam. The jacks were operated by an
vibrating-wire strain gauges (VWSGs) and mechanical tell-tale electric pump. The applied load was calibrated using vibrating-
rods are installed along the piles. The installed strain gauges wire load cells (VWLCs). To ensure the stability of the test
within the pile allowed the monitoring of axial loads and assembly, careful consideration was given to the provision of a
movement at various depths down to the pile shaft and the pile suitable system. The geometry arrangement should also seek to
toe (Badrun, 2011). Recently, to address the challenges and minimise the interaction between the test pile, the reaction system
difficulties posed by conventional measurement methods, a and the reference beam support. The capacity of the reaction
retrieval sensor – a global strain extensometer (GSE) – has been against the maximum test load should be 10–20% higher. A
used for instrumentation of bored piles (Aziz et al., 2005; Liew typical load application and measurement system consists of
et al., 2011). This technology consists of a deformation monitor- hydraulic jacks, a load-measuring device, a spherical seating and
ing system that uses advanced pneumatically anchored extens- a load-bearing plate. The jack used for the test should preferably
ometers coupled with high-precision spring-loaded transducers; it have a large diameter with a travel of at least 15% of the pile
is a novel analytical technique to monitor loads and displace- diameter. Pressure was applied using a motorised pumping unit.
ments down the shaft and at the toe of bored piles through sonic Pressure gauges were fitted to permit checking of the load. In
logging tubes (Hanifah and Lee, 2006). addition to the independent load-measuring device, linear variable
differential transducers (LVDTs) and optical levelling systems
Generally, the main objectives of loading tests are: (a) to were also used during the load test. All the devices were
determine the load–settlement characteristics of the pile at the calibrated before each series of tests.
expected designed load using both conventional and GSE meth-
ods; (b) to check the ultimate capacity of the pile and to calibrate 2.1 Site condition
the empirical design methods employed for the more accurate In this research, two series of full-scale MLTs were performed on
assessment of the bearing capacity of the pile at a given site. The a bored pile. The first full-scale test was conducted at Cadangan
main aim of the full-scale tests and analysis presented here is to Pembangunan 2, Lorong Stonor, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and is
investigate: (a) the rates of the pile base and pile head load denoted by ‘PTP-1’. The test pile was a preliminary and was

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

loaded up to twice the pile’s structural capacity. It should be Table 2 presents a summary of the instrumented bored pile
mentioned that for test pile PTP-1, the required structural load test. The 1800 mm diameter bored pile (PTP-1) was
capacity was 22 200 kN. PTP-1 was designed for a nominal instrumented using a seven-level vibrating-wire (VW) global
diameter of 1800 mm and a penetration depth of 36 .95 m from strain gauge and an eight-level VW extensometer. However, the
the existing piling platform depth of 36 .25 m. The pile was tested 1000 mm diameter bored pile (PTP-2) was instrumented using
up to 44 400 kN (twice the designed load) in two loading cycles a five-levels VW strain gauge and a mechanical extensometer.
for the initial test programme. The location of the second full- For PTP-2, the designed load was 6750 kN. Static load was
scale project was at Utama Lodge, Jalan Senangria, Kuala applied by hydraulic jacks acting against the reaction pile
Lumpur, Malaysia, and is referred to as ‘PTP-2’. system. The piles were loaded up to two times the designed
load, which was near to the safety factor of 2 .5 considered.
From the subsurface investigation, Table 1 presents a summary of For each loading, calibrated load cells were used to measure
the soil type and the standard penetration test (SPT-N) values, the actual applied load on the pile head. The general soil
respectively. The depth of the borehole in the vicinity of PTP-1 profile and SPT value (SPT-N) at the project site of piles PTP-
was 31 .66 m and the soil profile at the borehole comprised very 1 and PTP-2 are shown in Figure 1(a) and Figure 1(b),
stiff, sandy silt (at a depth of between 0 m and 24 m) and respectively.
fractured limestone (at a depth of more than 24 m). When there
is a rock layer more than 3 m thick, it is assumed that the 2.2 Bored pile construction and instrumentation
mentioned layer can be considered as a bedrock. In the case of In this study, the bored piles were installed and concreted directly
PTP-1, from z ¼ 24 m, limestone rock appeared (where z is depth into the study area. To install a bored pile, a borehole of a
below ground level). As it was fractured, the SPT could not give specified diameter and depth – based on the required depth and
a reliable value. Therefore, core samples were taken from rotary diameter for PTP-1 and PTP-2 – was drilled. Next, the borehole
drilling, which show that the fractures in the limestone continued. was reinforced with a metal frame of a required cut and filled
Accordingly, the layer below that was assumed to be a sedimen- with fine-aggregate concrete. As stated, both of the bored piles
tary rock (fractured limestone). However, in depths lower than were tested using the MLT method through the reaction pile
32 m, a softer layer was found and the SPT was applied once system. All of the instruments were logged automatically using a
again. The depth of the borehole in the vicinity of PTP-2 was Micro-10 data logger and multilevel software. The conventional
47 .5 m and the monitored soil profile at the borehole comprised method for instrumentation using a VWSG and mechanical tell-
sandy silt, sandy clay, hard silt (at a depth of between 0 m and tales was employed. The VWSGs were attached to the steel cage
23 m), with completely weathered sandstone (at a depth of more of the bored pile (used for PTP-2). The VWSG and mechanical
than 23 m). tell-tales were embedded in the concrete permanently. The second

Test pile Soil stratum Depth: m SPT-N values Average SPT-N

PTP-1 L1 Stiff sandy silt with little gravel 0–8 3–16 15 .50
L2 Very stiff sandy silt with little gravel 8–10 16–50 27 .5
L3 Hard yellowish sandy silt with little gravel 10–17 50–111 110
L4 Hard yellowish sandy silt with little gravel 17–24 111–150 122
L5 Fractured limestone 24–36 .95 143–150 150
PTP-2 L1 Sandy silt 0–12 4–30 30
L2 Sandy clay 12–17 19–39 39
L3 Silt 18–23 54–125 122
L4 Weathered sandstone 25–31 .65 176–200 195

Table 1. Summary of soil profile for test pile locations

Pile No. Diameter: mm Working load: kN Pile length: m Test load: kN Type of instrument No. of instrument

PTP-1 1800 22 200 36 .95 44 400 GSE 7

PTP-2 1000 6750 32 .56 13 500 Conventional 5

Table 2. Summary of instrumented bored pile load test

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

art GSE system can measure shortening and strains over an entire
0 50 100 150 200 250
0 0 section of the test pile during each loading step of a typical static
2 pile load test; thus, it integrates the strains over a larger and more
Stiff, sandy silt
4 with little gravel representative sample. With the proper implementation of an
8 8 instrumentation scheme, the collected data from an instrumented
10 Very stiff, sandy silt pile are more reliable, and a better and more meaningful
12 Hard, yellowish, interpretation can be made. The obtained results from the GSE
sandy silt with
14 little gravel method (PTP-1) were compared with the bored pile with conven-
Depth: m

16 17
tional instrumentation (PTP-2) results. For PTP-2, the Geokon
18 Very stiff, sandy silt
Hard, yellowish,
VWSG and tell-tale extensometers were installed internally in the
sandy silt with test pile to monitor the strain development and shortening behav-
22 little gravel
24 24 iour of the pile during testing.
28 Fractured GSE instrumentation has been placed at seven levels for PTP-1.
30 limestone
The number of required GSEs depends on the length of the pile
and the vertical variation of the subsoil conditions, through sonic
logging tubes (Figure 2). A calibrated GSE sensor was installed
near the pile head (where no interaction from the soil friction to
SPT-N the pile shaft is expected) for the calibration of the applied axial
0 50 100 150 200 250 load and the measured average strain. The GSE sensors measure
0 0
2 the strain and the axial load transferred through each section of
4 the pile shaft. In addition, the GSE sensor at the toe of the pile
6 Sandy silt measures the load contributed by the toe or else by end-bearing
8 resistance.
12 12 The VW extensometer was installed at eight depths at the
14 anchored intervals (Figure 3). Deformation of the pile under
Depth: m

Sandy clay
16 loading produces relative movement between each anchored
18 interval. This causes a change in the strain gauge wire tension of
20 Silt
the VW transducers and a corresponding change in its resonant
23 frequency of vibration. The VWSG instruments for PTP-2 were
also installed at five levels (levels A through to level E), with
four per level (as shown in Figure 3). A schematic view of the
Weathered VWSG attached to the steel cage can be seen in Figure 4.
30 sandstone
32 The gauges were checked before and after installation, after the
34 placement of the cage in the borehole and after concreting. For
the rod extensometer, galvanised iron (GI) pipes were tied to the
main reinforcement cage with steel wires at each terminating
Figure 1. Variation of SPT with depth for soil in the vicinity of: depth, as shown in Figure 5. The 10 mm mild steel rod was
(a) PTP-1; (b) PTP-2 inserted until it touched the bottom of the pipe. A steel plate was
welded onto the end of the rod for the plunger to sit on during
the load test.

instrument used to measure the axial load and settlement The pile head displacements were also measured by dial
distribution along the bored pile was the GSE (used for PTP-1). gauges and LVDTs with readings to an accuracy of 0 .01 mm.
During static load testing, the deformation of the pile under These displacement measurement instruments were mounted
loading produces relative movement between each anchored on stable reference beams, and the whole system was
interval, causing a change in the strain gauge wire tension and a protected from direct sunlight and disturbance by the person-
corresponding change in its resonant frequency of vibration. The nel who were performing the pile testing and instrumentation
resonant frequency is measured by plucking the GSE sensors/ work. Settlement measurements using a precise levelling
transducers through a signal cable to a read-out box/data logger, technique were also taken as a useful backup, as well as to
which also measures the frequency and displays the shortening check the movement of the reference beams. The VWLCs,
reading and the strain reading. strain gauges, retrievable extensometers and LVDTs were
logged automatically using a Micro-103 data logger and the
With the installation set-up as described above, this state-of-the- MultiLogger software at 3 min intervals for close monitoring

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

RL 36·74 m (pile top)

0·0 m Anchored level A-0 RL 36·25 m platform level

1·0 m Glostrext Sensor 1a, Global strain gauge level A (RL 35·25 m)
2·0 m Anchored level A- Extensometer level 1 (RL 34·25 m)
1800 mm Bored pile
9·375 Col. RL 26·875
5·75 m Glostrext Sensor 2a, Global strain gauge level B (RL 30·50 m)

9·50 m Anchored level A- Extensometer level 2 (RL 26·75 m)

12·875 m Glostrext Sensor 3a, Global strain gauge level C (RL 23·375 m)

16·25 m Anchored level A- Extensometer level 3 (RL 20·0 m)

19·625 m Glostrext Sensor 4a, Global strain gauge level D (RL 16·625 m)

23·0 m Anchored level A- Extensometer level 4 (RL 13·25 m)

28·125 m Glostrext Sensor 5a, Global strain gauge level E (RL 8·125 m)

33·25 m Anchored level A-

34·60 m Glostrext Sensor 6a, Global strain gauge level F (RL 1·65 m)
35·95 m Anchored level A-6 Extensometer level 6 (RL 0·3 m)
36·45 m Glostrext Sensor 6a, Global strain gauge level G (RL ⫺0·2 m)
36·95 m Anchored level A- Extensometer level 7 (RL ⫺0·7 m)
Pile toe at 36·95 m depth (RL ⫺0·7 m)

denotes Glostrext anchored level (two sets per level)

denotes VW Glostrext Sensors (two sets per level)

Figure 2. Arrangement of the instrument at different levels for

GSE in pile PTP-1

during the loading and unloading steps. Only precise level load test is presented in Figure 7. The irregular shape in the base
readings were taken manually. settlement at each step of loading – particularly the first cycle –
at the location of sandstone or limestone might be the result of
rock particle rupture. The continuance of such an irregularly
3. Results and discussion
shaped settlement, however, might also be due to the high excess
3.1 Bored pile deformation pore-water pressure (because of applied stresses from the pile)
Figure 6 and Figure 7 show the variation of applied load plotted produced in the small fractures of the ruptured rock leading to
against pile top and base settlement, respectively, for two non-uniform sliding of small particles.
continuous cycles on PTP-1 (Figure 6(a)) and PTP-2 (Figure
6(b)). During the first cycle, the observed maximum pile top As can be seen, the maximum pile top settlement for the two
settlement at a loading of 22 418 kN was 9 .60 mm. Upon designed loads is about 24 .6 mm, which is very small in compari-
unloading to zero, the pile rebounded to a residual settlement of son to the length of the installed bore pile. Faisal and Lee (2013)
0 .36 mm. However, during the second cycle the observed maxi- have stated that the critical shaft displacement should be rel-
mum pile top settlement at the peak load of 44 036 kN was atively small (in order to fully mobilise the shaft resistance)
24 .63 mm. Upon unloading to zero, the pile rebounded to a compared to the large movement that is needed to fully mobilise
residual settlement of 5 .34 mm. The relationship between applied end-bearing. Excessive settlement and differential movement can
load plotted against pile base settlement obtained from the pile cause distortion and cracking in structures (Salgado et al., 2007).

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

RL 70·724 m (pile top)

RL 70·392 m (existing platform)

Bored pile

4·286 m COL RL 66·106 m

5·559 m VWSG and extensometer TT1

level A Galvanised item pipe
for extensometer rod
7·816 m VWSG and extensometer TT2
level B
Reinforcement bar

17·816 m VWSG and extensometer Attached
level C

23·816 m VWSG and extensometer TT4 VWSG: (four sets per level)
level D

Tell-tale extensometer
(TT, one on each level)

32·068 m VWSG and extensometer TT5 Pile toe at 32·568 m depth

level E (RL 37·824 m)

Figure 3. Arrangement of the VWSGs and tell-tale extensometer

in pile PTP-2

Figure 5. Galvanised iron pipes for tell-tale extensometer were

Figure 4. Schematic view of the VWSG attached to steel cage pre-installed at VWSG level

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

50 000 50 000
45 000 45 000
40 000 40 000

Applied load: kN
35 000
Applied load: kN

35 000
30 000 30 000
25 000 25 000
20 000 20 000
15 000 15 000
10 000
10 000
0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Total pile base settlement: mm
Total pile top settlement: mm
PTP 1 – first cycle PTP 1 – second cycle PTP 1 – first cycle PTP 1 – second cycle
(a) (a)
14 000 14 000

12 000 12 000

10 000
Applied load: kN

10 000
Applied load: kN

8000 8000

6000 6000

4000 4000

0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Total pile base settlement: mm
Total pile top settlement: mm
PTP 2 – first cycle PTP 2 – second cycle PTP 2 – first cycle PTP 2 – second cycle
(b) (b)

Figure 6. Variation of applied load plotted against pile top Figure 7. Variation of applied load plotted against pile base
settlement for two continues cycles: (a) PTP-1; (b) PTP-2 settlement for two continues cycles: (a) PTP-1; (b) PTP-2

3.2 Measuring the axial load-carrying capacity of the 95 .58% of the test load was carried by skin friction; the
bored piles remaining 4 .42% test load was carried by end-bearing, as
The load distribution curves for the test cycles are plotted in shown in Figure 9(b).
Figure 8 and Figure 9. The load distribution curves – capable of
indicating the load distribution along the shaft and the base – It can be concluded that the measured skin friction resistance
were derived from computations based on the measured changes between 0 , z , 15 m and 0 , z ,5 m in the soil at the vicinity
in the strain gauge readings and estimated pile properties (steel of PTP-1 and PTP-2, respectively, was much lower in comparison
content, cross-sectional areas and modulus of elasticity). The to the designed load. The variations of the portions of skin
computations made for PTP-2 were based on as-built details friction resistance were calculated at the end of each test (i.e. for
(including concrete record) known from the construction record. PTP-1 at depth z ¼ 36 .45 m and for PTP-2 at depth z ¼ 32 .06 m),
as shown in Figure 10. It can be seen that the higher load reduces
The difference between the loads at any two levels (levels are the effect of skin friction while increasing the influence of the
given from the top and bottom of the pile) represents the shaft end-bearing portion. For example, the skin friction effect in PTP-
load carried by the portion of the pile between those levels. 1 varied from the portion between 98 .1% and 87 .1% when the
For instance, for PTP-2 when the 6735 kN test load during the applied load increased from 3313 kN to 22 418 kN (Figure 10(a)).
first cycle was applied, almost 99 .78% of the test load was This, based on the evidence presented by Chin (1970) and
carried by skin friction (the portion of the load carried Fleming (1992), is true of piles that carry most of their load by
between depths of z ¼ 0 m and z ¼ 32 .06 m in comparison to shaft friction. Owing to the observed low values for the base
the applied load); the remaining 0 .22% test load was carried resistance, it is suggested that the end-bearing resistance of the
by end-bearing, as shown in Figure 9(a). For the second cycle, bored pile should be eliminated in the design, especially when the
the maximum applied load was 12 904 kN while approximately wet drilling method should be used.

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

Load registered: kN Load registered: kN

0 5000 10 000 15 000 20 000 25 000 0 10 000 20 000 30 000 40 000 50 000
0 0

5 5

Depth below platform level: m

Depth below platform level: m


PTP-1-C2-5627 kN PTP-1-C2-11 351 kN
40 PTP-1-C2-16 664 kN PTP-1-C2-22 391 kN
PTP-1-C1-3313 kN PTP-1-C1-4698 kN
PTP-1-C2-24 479 kN PTP-1-C2-27 138 kN
PTP-1-C1-6883 kN PTP-1-C1-8897 kN
PTP-1-C2-29 181 kN PTP-1-C2-31 072 kN
PTP-1-C1-11 061 kN PTP-1-C1-14 016 kN
PTP-1-C2-33 186 kN PTP-1-C2-35 465 kN
PTP-1-C1-16 056 kN PTP-1-C1-17 973 kN
PTP-1-C2-37 716 kN PTP-1-C2-40 475 kN
PTP-1-C1-20 370 kN PTP-1-C1-22 418 kN
PTP-1-C2-42 184 kN PTP-1-C2-44 036 kN
(a) (b)

Figure 8. Load distribution curve for PTP-1 in: (a) first cycle and
(b) second cycle, computed from VWSG

Based on the soil properties in the vicinity of PTP-1 and PTP-2, 3.3 Pile’s vertical shortening
the pile may not be able to provide significant load capacity or The results of this research show the importance of considering
stiffness at 8 m depth below the platform. However, at depths both elastic and plastic deformation behaviours during the axial
below 8 m, the long-term settlement of incompressible underlying loading of a pile test. The variation of applied load plotted
layers (e.g. the very stiff, sandy silts in PTP-1 and the weathered against the measured total pile shortening by the GSE for PTP-1,
sandstone in PTP-2) will increase the contribution of the pile in and the use of tell-tale sensors for PTP-2, are presented in Figure
relation to the long-term stiffness of the foundation. 11 and Figure 12, respectively. The pile shortened significantly,
up to 8 .68 mm and 18 .89 mm, when the applied vertical load
For a bored pile installed through soft soil, the focus is reached a maximum of 22 390 kN and 44 000 kN, respectively.
mainly on the skin friction. An increasing proportion is taken The plastic deformation behaviour of the test pile for high static
up by the end-bearing, as the shaft has been fully mobilised. loads was 1 .51 mm which, in comparison with the total length of
Since the pile base was located on limestone (PTP-1) or the pile, is insignificant. However, when the plastic deformation
sandstone (PTP-2), the effect of the end-bearing capacity results from the first cycle and the second cycle are compared,
should be carefully considered. In the present study, the piles there is a much higher incidence of permanent deflection in the
were loaded up to twice their designed loads. Under such vertical axis of the test pile (Figure 11).
conditions, the skin friction may not be fully mobilised and
the point where the end-bearing capacity becomes significant As stated earlier, the tell-tale sensors were installed in five
may not be reached. For example, the end-bearing capacity different positions along the vertical axis of the test pile. Figure
portion after the application of twice the designed load was 12 shows the influence of the applied load on total pile shortening
18% and 12% for PTP-1 and PTP-2, respectively (Figure 7). in PTP-2 for the two continuous cycles. As shown in Figure
As such, considering displacement at the head of the bored 12(a), the higher depth of the test pile (z , 7 .816 m) resulted in
pile, a much higher applied load is needed if the end-bearing less shortening in the piles. The total elastic shortening deforma-
tends to be significant. tion of test pile PTP-2 (for z ¼ 32 .068 m) was 5 .04 mm and

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

Load registered: kN Load registered: kN

0 2000 4000 6000 8000 0 5000 10 000 15 000
0 0

5 5

Depth below platform level: m

Depth below platform level: m





PTP-2-C2-1750 kN PTP-2-C2-3381 kN
PTP-2-C2-5025 kN PTP-2-C2-6714 kN
PTP-2-C1-738 kN PTP-2-C1-1316 kN
PTP-2-C2-7321 kN PTP-2-C2-7976 kN
PTP-2-C1-2013 kN PTP-2-C1-2759 kN
PTP-2-C2-8661 kN PTP-2-C2-9370 kN
PTP-2-C1-3320 kN PTP-2-C1-3986 kN
PTP-2-C2-10 072 kN PTP-2-C2-10 584 kN
PTP-2-C1-4741 kN PTP-2-C1-5596 kN
PTP-2-C2-11 429 kN PTP-2-C2-12 123 kN
PTP-2-C1-6051 kN PTP-2-C1-6735 kN
(a) PTP-2-C2-12 714 kN PTP-2-C2-12 904 kN

Figure 9. Load distribution curve for PTP-2 in: (a) first cycle and
(b) second cycle, computed from VWSG

11 .61 mm for the applied loads 6735 kN and 12 904 kN, respec- value for the pile base (blows/300 mm); and Ab is the cross-
tively. However, the corresponding plastic deformations of test sectional area of the pile base (m2).
pile PTP-2 were less than 1 mm and 2 mm for the same loading
conditions, respectively. Generally, the results of the load-transfer parameters for each of
the soil layers are summarised in the corresponding correlation of
3.4 Back-analysis of the full-scale pile-load test SPT-N values plotted against maximum mobilised unit shaft
As stated earlier, for bored piles the axial load capacity can be resistance. The skin friction factor will be calculated as the
evaluated empirically from the correlation of SPT-N values using changes in the mobilised unit friction resistance over the changes
the modified Meyerhof method, where the ultimate bearing in the SPT-N for a 0 .3 m penetration. A summary of the results of
capacity of a pile in compression is given by Equation 1 the back-analysis of the ultimate skin friction factor (Ksu) for
PTP-1 and PTP-2 is given in Table 3.

1: Qu ¼ K s N s As þ K b (40N b )Ab The results of back-analysis of the ultimate end-bearing factor

Kbu for PTP-1 and PTP-2 are summarised in Table 4. The Kbu
values corresponding to the allowable settlement of 40 mm for
where Qu is the ultimate bearing capacity of the pile (in kN); Ks PTP-1 and PTP-2 were 7 .8 kPa and 2 .23 kPa, respectively. The
is the empirical design factor relating the ultimate shaft load to expected ultimate end-bearing capacities from the SPT-N results
SPT values (kN/m2 per SPT blow); Ns is the SPT value for the for both PTP-1 and PTP-2 were 2977 .3 kN and 309 .2 kN, respec-
pile shaft (blows/300 mm); As is the perimeter area of the shaft tively. Compared to the obtained values for skin friction from the
(m); Kb is the empirical design factor relating the ultimate end- SPT-N results for PTP-1 and PTP-2, the end-bearing values are
bearing load to SPT values (kN/m2 per SPT blow); Nb is the SPT considered quite small. It is important to note that the base

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

100 8000

Skin friction portion: %


Applied load: kN

80 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 10 000 20 000 30 000 40 000 50 000 Total pile shortening: mm
Applied load: kN PTP-2 – first cycle – TT1 – z ⫽ 5·56 m
PTP-2 – first cycle – TT2 – z ⫽ 7·816 m
PTP-1-C1-skin friction PTP-1-C2-skin friction PTP-2 – first cycle – TT3 – z ⫽ 17·816 m
(a) PTP-2 – first cycle – TT4 – z ⫽ 22·816 m
100 PTP-2 – first cycle – TT5 – z ⫽ 32·068 m
14 000
Skin friction portion: %

96 12 000

10 000
Applied load: kN



88 2000
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10 000 12 000 14 000
Applied load: kN 0
0 3 6 9 12 15
Total pile shortening: mm
PTP-2-C1-skin friction PTP-2-C2-skin friction
PTP-2 – second cycle – TT1 – z ⫽ 5·56 m
PTP-2 – second cycle – TT2 – z ⫽ 7·816 m
PTP-2 – second cycle – TT3 – z ⫽ 17·816 m
Figure 10. The portions of the skin friction and end bearing varied
PTP-2 – second cycle – TT4 – z ⫽ 22·816 m
with the applied load for: (a) PTP-1 depth z ¼ 36 .45 m; (b) in
PTP-2 – second cycle – TT5 – z ⫽ 32·068 m
PTP-2 depth z ¼ 32 .06 m

Figure 12. Effect of applied load on measured total pile

50 000 shortening by TT system for PTP-2: (a) first cycle; (b) second cycle

40 000
Applied load: kN

30 000
resistance of bored piles is usually ignored, since in comparison
to the magnitude of skin friction (particularly at the top of the
bored pile) the amount of end-bearing resistance in the soft soil
20 000
is negligible. In addition, it is difficult to obtain a clean base
during construction to ensure suitable end-bearing capacity.
10 000
Generally, the back-calculated Kb values represent a conservative
0 approach to end-bearing resistance factors, as the majority of the
0 5 10 15 20 piles were not tested to full failure. However, it can still serve as
Total pile shortening: mm
PTP-1 – first cycle PTP-1 – second cycle a useful initial design guide for shaft resistance factors. The
back-analysis of a pile load test allows the evaluation of the soil
Figure 11. Effect of applied load on measured total pile modulus and, consequently, the more accurate prediction of the
shortening by GSE for PTP-1 pile response. However, the obtained Ksu and Kbu values –
particularly for these case studies – could be different for other

Geotechnical Engineering Appraisal of reliable skin friction variation
in a bored pile
Nazir, Moayedi, Mosallanezhad and Tourtiz

Level Depth: m Average Unit skin Ultimate skin Expected skin friction
SPT-N friction, fsu: friction factor, Ksu: from the SPT:
kPa kPa kN/m depth

PTP-1 GL to level B 5 .75 15 .50 29 .30 1 .89 168 .48

Level B to level C 7 .125 27 .50 22 .90 1 .20 129 .5
Level C to level D 6 .75 110 243 .50 2 .21 1376 .9
Level D to level E 8 .50 122 263 .50 2 .16 1490 .0
Level E to level F 6 .475 150 284 .20 1 .90 1607 .1
Level F to level G 1 .85 160 348 .50 2 .18 1970 .6
PTP-2 GL to level B 3 .53 30 68 .8 2 .29 216 .0
Level B to level C 10 .0 39 44 .6 1 .14 140 .0
Level C to level D 6 .0 122 72 .5 0 .59 227 .7
Level D to level E 8 .252 195 117 .7 0 .60 369 .6

Table 3. Summary of results of back-analysis on the ultimate skin

friction factor, Ksu, for PTP-1 and PTP-2

Test pile Depth: m SPT-N Unit end bearing, Ultimate end bearing Area: m2 Expected end bearing
values fbu: kPa factor, Kbu: kPa from SPT-N: kN

PTP-1 36 .95 150 1170 7 .8 2 .5447 2977 .3

PTP-2 32 .56 176 393 .7 2 .23 0 .7854 309 .2

Table 4. Results of back-analysis on the ultimate end-bearing

factor, Kbu, for PTP-1 and PTP-2

projects, depending upon the soil layer characteristics, loading (c) The results imply that when the pile is loaded higher, the
conditions and site effects. The available data are limited, and influence of shaft friction is lower.
thus more instrumentation data need to be combined to obtain
closer range values for the skin resistance factors and base Acknowledgements
resistance factors. The use of the suggested values in this project The authors would like to thank the Research Management
should be applied with caution, and establishing an MLT as a Centre of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Ministry of
prove test is recommended. Higher Education (MOHE) for providing financial support
through research vote R.J130000.7822.4L130, thereby bringing
4. Conclusion the idea into fruition.
This study can help engineers evaluate a pile under designed load
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Kister G, Winter D, Gebremichael YM et al. (2007) Methodology To discuss this paper, please email up to 500 words to the
and integrity monitoring of foundation concrete piles using editor at journals@ice.org.uk. Your contribution will be
Bragg grating optical fibre sensors. Engineering Structures forwarded to the author(s) for a reply and, if considered
29(9): 2048–2055. appropriate by the editorial panel, will be published as a
Liew SS, Khoo CM, Tan ST and Loh YE (2011) Pile performance in discussion in a future issue of the journal.
weathered meta-sedimentary formation and KL limestone. Proceedings journals rely entirely on contributions sent in
Proceedings of the 14th Asian Regional Conference on Soil by civil engineering professionals, academics and students.
Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. Curran Associates, Papers should be 2000–5000 words long (briefing papers
Red Hook, New York, NY, USA, pp. 740–745. should be 1000–2000 words long), with adequate illustra-
Meyerhof GG and Yalcin AS (1983) Bearing capacity of rigid tions and references. You can submit your paper online via
piles and pile groups under eccentric and inclined loads in www.icevirtuallibrary.com/content/journals, where you
clay. In Proceedings of the 36th Canadian Geotechnical will also find detailed author guidelines.