Determining the integrity of a material can be accomplished by intrusive or non-intrusive methods. Intrusive methods are more conventional, and include drilling, coring, or penetration via preinstalled conduits. These methods can include destructive testing (core samples) providing direct information about the condition of the structure under consideration, but may compromise the structural integrity once testing is completed.

Integrity testing by non-intrusive methods is often more cost effective, but requires sophisticated equipment and specialty training to yield meaningful results. Non-destructive testing of piles has gained increased acceptance for various purposes including quality control/quality assurance, verification of existing conditions, and quantification of dimensions. The correct use of this technique can greatly simplify and expedite investigations. On the flip side, incorrect use can cause delays or adverse reputation for the technology.

ASTM D-5882 test method covers the procedure for determining the integrity of individual vertical or inclined piles by measuring and analyzing the velocity (required) and force (optional) response of the pile induced by a hand held hammer or other similar type impact device usually applied axially and perpendicularly to the pile head surface. This standard provides minimum requirements for low strain impact testing of piles.

This test method is applicable to long structural elements that function in a manner similar to any deep foundation units such as driven piles, augured piles, or drilled shafts, regardless of their method of installation provided that they are receptive to low strain impact testing.

The Pulse Echo Method is a surface reflection integrity testing technique. A high frequency accelerometer is attached to the pile top using a mild bonding agent such as petro wax or petroleum jelly. A lightweight hand held hammer (1 to 3 pounds) is used to strike the pile top and generate a small strain stress wave. Changes in the pile cross-section, concrete density, and/or soil resistance affect the impedance in the direction of the traveling wave and create reflections of the stress wave that propagate back towards the pile top. The quality of the result produced by this test method is dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it, and the suitability of the equipment and facilities used. 

Tuscaloosa County Auto Supplier on Track to Open High-tech Facility

Truck & Wheel Group plans a 127,000-square-foot, highly automated facility in Vance that will assemble, sequence and balance wheels for delivery to automotive production lines.

This is the first U.S. operation for the company, which wants to expand its market as a Tier 1 supplier.

A groundbreaking for the project was held in April, and the facility is scheduled to open next year.

“Thank you for welcoming us into your community, and we look forward to starting business in 2018,” said Antonio Montoro, Truck & Wheel Group’s plant manager.

Carlos Llonis Irigoyen, CEO and general manager of the company’s automotive division, said the commitment to Tuscaloosa “is based on the long-term relationship the company is willing to build.”


“Truck & Wheel Group is introducing advanced automation technology that is new to our region.”

The Truck & Wheel facility is being developed by real estate firm Graham & Co., and Cooper Construction is the general contractor. The factory will be highly robotic and automated, attaching tires to rims, inflating them and running quality assurance tests in a matter of seconds.

The two firms previously teamed up to build a 500,000-square-foot parts warehouse for the automotive sector.

The Truck & Wheel project is another sign of prosperity for Alabama’s booming auto industry, which last year surpassed the 10 million mark in cumulative auto production.

“Alabama’s auto industry continues to notch impressive manufacturing milestones, all while delivering quality vehicles that are in high demand in markets around the globe,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“We are happy to work with Truck & Wheel Group and wish them many years of growth in Alabama,” he said.

Truck & Wheel began in Europe in the 1990s and now has 26 branches there. It is one of the major logistics operators in Spain, France, Germany and Portugal, and has recently opened centers in Mexico.

Dara Longgrear, executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industry Development Authority, said the company is joining a diverse lineup of auto suppliers in the region.

“Truck & Wheel Group is introducing advanced automation technology that is new to our region,” Longgrear said. “They will make a good addition to our automotive cluster and our international community.”


Truck & Wheel Group’s new facility will provide valuable job opportunities for Alabama residents, Vance Mayor Keith Mahaffey said.

“The automotive industry continues to be a great economic driver by adding more industry and jobs for not only our citizens, but for this area as a whole,” he said.

Claude Edwards, chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority, said the announcement “is a great next step forward for Tuscaloosa County to continue to grow and prosper.”

Meanwhile, Graham & Co. said it anticipates finding another built-to-suit project for auto suppliers in the near future.

Industrial brokers from Graham and others that have said the industrial market in the Birmingham area and across Alabama have benefited so much from the growth of the automotive sector that built-to-suit projects may become more common in coming months and years.

20 Midtown development

The Design Review Committee this week approved plans for the third building of the 20 Midtown development, which will be located on an entire block between 20th Street and Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd., and between Second and Third Avenues South.

Site demolition, clearing and grading has already been completed and the building is expected to start construction soon.

The project will include 246 apartment units as well as retail space according to Dick Schmalz the project developer.  The entire 20 Midtown project has already served as catalyst for interest in surrounding properties in the area that is often called Midtown. Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds is the project architect. 

BHATE Geosciences is proud to be a part of this project team and has provided all of the subsurface engineering, environmental and testing services on the entire 20 Midtown development.



Honda announces $85 million expansion

Honda last week announced an $85 million expansion to its Lincoln, Ala., auto manufacturing plant that will improve vehicle manufacturing flexibility, strengthen the logistic efficiency for future models and prepare for future technologies. The $2.2 billion, 3.7 million-square-foot plant in Lincoln employs more than 4,500 workers and has attracted a network of almost 30 Tier One suppliers, many located in the Birmingham region, that employ another 7,600 people.

“Honda has been a powerful economic engine in Alabama, creating thousands of well-paying jobs and new levels of opportunity for residents in Talladega County and across the state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Honda has found a home in Alabama, expanding repeatedly to boost output and add capabilities. We’ll work hard to keep this fruitful partnership going strong.”

We are the geotechnical engineer of record for the $85 million expansion.   The expansion is the first Phase of the overall plant expansion which involves new civil infrastructure and warehouse construction.  The civil improvements will consist of 220,000 cubic yards of earthwork, 40,000 linear feet of new utilities, and 1.1 million square feet of new roller compacted concrete container lots and logistics roadways. 

HMA is currently one of the largest roller compacted concrete pavement industrial facilities in the world, and this expansion will increase the total amount of RCC pavement.  We assisted with preparation of the bid documents, including the including civil site, pavement, and foundation specifications. 

Our services included subsurface investigation, geotechnical evaluation and design (related to site preparation, roller compacted pavement design, and building foundations), utility mapping, and comprehensive construction material testing and inspections.  During the design and bid phases, we assisted HMA with evaluation of site design and Value Engineering options that reduced the sitework and building construction costs

.Click here to read more about Honda’s expansion at Made in Alabama

Four New Shareholders Added to BHATE Geosciences

BHATE Geosciences Corporation congratulates the following BHATE team members as new shareholders and corporate leaders. Each of these professionals has contributed to our company’s growth and success, but more importantly, helped us deliver on our commitment to serve our clients better than anyone in the industry.

Thomas E. Sanders, CFO  is a University of Alabama graduate in accounting and for the past 18 years has managed the company’s financial processes and HR duties. Tommy brings high integrity to his job and always looks after the best interest of our clients and employees. He is an important part of our company’s current and future growth. 

David L. Johnson, PE, Senior Consultant - Construction Materials Testing Manager functions as the Corporate Materials Consultant and also manages the Quality Assurance and Construction Materials Testing staff.  His duties have also included overseeing our testing laboratory’s national accreditation in Birmingham and branch offices for the past 14 years.  He has a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from Mississippi State University and is a licensed PE in multiple states. 

Kevin A. Scott, PE, Senior Consultant - Engineering Research and Technology is manager of Engineering Research and Technology for the company.  His specialties include unique geotechnical testing, deep foundation and shoring design and geo-hazard assessment.  He has a 15 year tenure with BHATE Geoscience and is a Civil Engineering graduate of Mississippi State University.  He is a licensed PE in multiple states.

Drew Thornbury,PE, Senior Consultant – Geotechnical Group  functions as a Senior Manager and leader in the geotechnical engineering group.  His expertise includes complex projects in karst terrains, deep foundations, geotechnical forensics, and transportation/infrastructure.  He joined BHATE in 2006, and is a graduate of Auburn University in Civil Engineering, and is a licensed PE in Alabama.