Imagine you’re a company that prides itself on staying ahead of the technology curve. Imagine also that measurements that are “good enough” just won’t do, for you are one of the leading materials testing firms in the country. Now imagine that you want to combine accuracy with innovation in order to deliver cutting-edge results to your clients.
That was the dilemma for Wallace-Kuhl & Associates, Inc., a geotechnical and materials testing organization headquartered in West Sacramento, California. For years the company had been using Tinius Olsen’s 120 Super L static hydraulic testing machine, which still functioned well with upgrades. Yet when they looked to purchase new technology for the main office, they wanted the most precise measuring technology available. In fact, they wanted a lot more.
Josh Nitchman, senior lab technician for Wallace-Kuhl had plenty of “must-haves” for his next stabilometer and testing system, so he shopped. He looked at numerous other companies and compared the functions, prices, and capabilities of various machines. He found he could fill all the items on his list rather expensively with other companies’ solutions, but no one offered everything he wanted, integrated on one machine. That’s when he headed to Tinius Olsen with his list of items that a new machine must have. “We needed accuracy. Repeatability of results came into play.” That’s important when customers rely heavily on the accuracy of your measurements in order to perform their jobs correctly. Wallace-Kuhl tests materials such as concrete, soils, and steel in pre-construction and construction applications, plus performs field testing of bolts and other materials. To rely on the manufacturer’s testing isn’t enough. As Nitchman puts it, “Plants do their own QA of their materials, such as concrete and steel. Their results can vary. Ours can’t. Ours have to be as accurate as possible.”
Also necessary for Nitchman was the ability to perform faster testing in the field, much faster graphing, and the ability to integrate his company’s video extensometer readings. “We wanted to do large rebar testing up to size 18,” says Nitchman. Until this point, they were limited in terms of rebar testing.
When Nitchman approached Tinius Olsen, he gave them an ultimatum – deliver or we’ll go elsewhere. The challenge he put forth was daunting – “We added on every bell and whistle that could possibly be added on to the machine. We also wanted them to make several customized pieces.”
Tinius Olsen took all Wallace-Kuhl’s needs into consideration and made a proposal for one of the most loaded and customized testing systems they have ever seen in their 127-year history. Wallace Kuhl settled on Tinius Olsen as their supplier and bought a 400,000 lbf Super L with adjustable extra height, hydraulically actuated grips, dedicated grips to test rebar, seven strand cable, bolts, concrete cylinders and a host of other customizations. “We went to Tinius Olsen with our needs and they made it all happen. They came through in a lot of different ways.”
Some of those items included a special software routine for referencing a variety of field use bolt testers — Wallace-Kuhl uses mobile variety hand-pumped or electrically-pumped hydraulic rams to test the strength of high-tensile bolts in their final application. To this point, Wallace-Kuhl was performing the testing in the same way as other materials testing groups – each calibration taking up to an hour to complete.
Not any more. Now bolt testing in the field takes seconds. No more multiple readings and graphing out the results to come up with the unique calibration constant. Tinius Olsen’s Test Navigator software, which works in tandem with the 400 Super L, gives the operator a means to reference pressure on the mobile testers to fixed load valves on the test pressure.
Also, Nitchman was looking for a better way to read results from stabilometer testing. “They put a rotary encoder and a pressure transducer on the stabilometer so that when it’s compressing the soil, it can read both the psi pushing outward and the displacements at the same time. The readings are automatic, and they’re very accurate and repeatable.”
Even the video extensometer, which is so cutting-edge that no program runs with it, now has its own program and automatic readings, thanks to Tinius Olsen.
Nitchman and Wallace-Kuhl are satisfied customers in more than one respect. Not only did Tinius Olsen deliver on all counts, but also Nitchman says the savings to his company are a bonus. “We’ve been able to reduce some of our costs because we don’t need as many people and we don’t have to subcontract any of our work. That savings goes back to our clients, which gives them both a cheaper price and direct access to the test results.”
Nitchman says that Wallace-Kuhl now boasts test results that are “ten times more accurate than anyone else’s. I’m lucky to be in a company that puts money toward the future. As regulations get more and more stringent, we are able to jump way ahead of them, which is a big selling point to our clients.”
Wallace-Kuhl & Associates, Inc. (WKA) is a premier professional services firm that performs environmental and ecological support, geotechnical engineering, construction testing and inspection. The company, founded in 1984, now employs a staff of 200, including environmental scientists, geologists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel. Wallace-Kuhl & Associates has three offices in the greater California Central Valley, located in Yolo County, Placer County, and San Joaquin County.
For more information, contact: Tinius Olsen, 1065 Easton Road, Horsham, PA 19044 USA, (215) 675-7100, Fax (215) 441-0899, www.TiniusOlsen.com,
. Or: Wallace-Kuhl & Associates, 3050 Industrial Boulevard, West Sacramento, CA 95691, (916) 821-0494 Fax: (916) 372-2565, www.wallace-kuhl.com,
# # # #
Wayne Hayward, Marketing Manager, Tinius Olsen
Phone: (215) 675-7100 Fax: (215) 441-0899
Josh Nitchman, Senior Lab Technician,
Phone: (916) 821-0494 Fax: (916) 372-2565
Dan Ditzler, Newton Associates
Phone: (610) 964-9300 Fax: (610) 964-9306