CPT in South America

Vertek’s S4 Push System has made entry into the CPT market accessible for a growing list of geotechnical professionals. Here on our CPT U blog we often provide a closer look at some of these organizations and how their regional markets operate. One such company is a Bolivian construction and engineering group that’s been in operation since 1968, but has just recently added CPT to their offerings thanks to a Vertek S4. Read on for our Q&A with Mario A. Teceros of Incotec.

Provide a brief background on your company. How/when did it originate?

It was established in 1968. Is one of the oldest operating construction companies in Bolivia. It was initially created to build urban infrastructure and housing. Rapidly entered to the civil works and the deep foundations market. Incotec also started with the first geotechnical equipment (SPT and DPM) in 1968. Since then, beside the experience in different type of projects (ranging from concrete structures to industrial constructions and dams), the speciality in deep and special foundations has been the main “stamp” of Incotec. Is family company and now the third generation is working.

What is the scope and focus of Incotec today?

More specialization in all the fields of its activities, mainly with the incorporation of cutting edge equipments for soil tests (SCPTu from Vertek), deep foundation construction (BG18, BG20 and BG 30 from Bauer, with tools for Full Displacement Piles, Cutter Soil Mixing, cased piles) and quality controls (From Pile Dynamics, PIT, Cross Hole and PDA). But the main product developed by Incotec during the last decade is the EXpander Body, a steel folded “balloon” that is installed at the tip of a pile or an anchor. The EB is then injected with grout to expand it, compacting the surrounding soil and increasing significantly the stiffness, thus, the capacity. Is the only system that measures the pressure and volume of the injection (like a pressuremeter), giving valuable information about the soil and the capacity of each element. And with better soil investigation, the results are more accurate.

What are the primary geological engineering challenges facing Bolivia at this time?

Better quality in the basic data in order to increase the quality of the solutions and reduce the costs due to the lack of reliable parameters.

Specific to CPT, what does Incotec offer that is unique in your region?

The SCPTu we have (Vertek S4), is the only in the country. It exists and old Bengeman cone at one public university in Cochabamba. But the difference in accuracy an quantity of information provided by our equipment makes it the best option right now. We also offer the design of foundations based in this information.

What sort of equipment are you currently employing?

A S4 system, 20 ton push force, attached to a CASE 580 N backhoe loader. 2 cones: one SCPTu, and one CPTu soil sampler.

What sort of customers do you primarily service?

Private and public, mainly for buildings, industries and bridges.

Is there a common misconception in your market that you often address?

The main argument of the people that dos not know the CPT is that the sample is not taken simultaneously. But after knowing the results that are possible to get, generally the misconception disappears.

Provide an outlook for your next 2-4 years. What do you plan to accomplish in that timeframe?

Regarding only CPT, I am sure that we will need at least one more equipment, including additional features like temperature. At the moment we perform around 300 to 600 m of tests per month. Our maximum was 1100 m.

Final thoughts?

We are satisfied with the equipment. Our only concern is the capacity of the anchors because the superficial soils are generally the softer soils. I think that with longer anchors (1 m longer) this problem will be solved.
In other hand, the speed of execution is really an important advantage of the system.
Right now we are designing a research program to correlate the CPT values with the injection pressure of the Expander Bodies in order to find a general solution for the design of the Expander Bodies.
Additional Vertek partner case study Q&A’s are available via the “case study” section of our website.