The latest video podcast from Australia-based engineer Siamak Paulson (Golder Associates) checks in with Warren Hornsey, Director of TRI Australasia. The 16-minute interview highlights the value and role of independent geosynthetics testing on the Australian infrastructure market. It also underscores the need for college engineering programs and practicing engineering professionals to include geosynthetics in their knowledge base.
TRI has operated a geosynthetics testing laboratory in Australia since 2013. When the original lab was open, the Australian market was still experiencing a number of geosynthetics failures, Hornsey notes in the interview. The TRI lab greatly increased the market’s capacity for independent geosynthetics testing in Australia. It’s had a notable, beneficial impact.
“The failure rate of geosynthetics has certainly declined,” Hornsey says.
This decline in failures has coincided with strong growth in TRI’s testing in Australia. Hornsey has moved his team into a larger facility to meet in the field’s testing needs.
HOW INDEPENDENT TESTING IMPROVES GEOSYNTHETICS
Greater awareness in the design and specification community of geosynthetics and of how to interpret the data derived from strong testing programs have been essential to Australia’s growth in geosynthetics. Testing has played a central role in improving communication between project stakeholders and the distributors and manufacturers filling orders.
Testing has helped the project side properly communicate material needs to suppliers and improved overall project success.
“As an engineer,” Hornsey says, “if you’re not checking what is going into the ground, that what’s going into the lining system is actually what you designed and falls within your factors of safety, you could end up with a failure that risks your reputation or your company’s reputation. Whether it is your fault or not is irrelevant once the lawyers get involved. … “At the end of the day, if we’re preventing the contamination of groundwater, I don’t think you can put a price on that.”
Independent testing and verification services add a check in the project system that supports the goals of everyone involved.
THE VALUE OF GEOSYNTHETICS EDUCATION
Geosynthetics are the only major class of construction materials to be invented in the 20th century. Though they have been used in the field for roughly 50 years now, education about them continues to lag in university engineering programs. This has translated to a many engineering professionals needing to cultivate geosynthetics knowledge on the job.
“The most important thing for engineers is education,” Hornsey says, “and understanding how to use these products properly. … They’re not all the same. They behave differently, and knowing how to apply them is critically important to the success of the job.”
Joining the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) and taking part in national or regional chapters is one place to enhance geosynthetics knowledge that will better inform design and independent testing needs.
No matter how you acquire your geosynthetics knowledge, “you’ll never learn it all,” Hornsey says.
That is one of the gifts of the field: You can always learn more, improve, and be inspired.
Learn more about TRI Australasia