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Olson Instruments, Nondestructive Testing Equipment, Nondestructive Evaluation, Olsen | Testing Infrastructure Nondestructively

January 19, 2018

Check Out Olson's New


Affordable Foundation Test Gauge


Frequently Asked Questions

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Search Results - Complete FAQs

What do NDE and NDT stand for?

NDE stands for Non-Destructive Evaluation and NDT stands for Non-Destructive Testing, which both encompass non-invasive test methods used for evaluating the condition of civil structures and infrastructure.

What are Freedom Data PC modules and why are they emphasized throughout the documentation?

The Freedom Data PC modules are used to allow many different test configurations with the same computer data collection system. The modules are generally test-specific, but some modules can be used for multiple tests, or the capabilities for multiple tests can often be combined onto a single module. Olson Instruments choose to use this instrumentation design so that its customers could benefit from the cost effectiveness of a single platform with interchangeable modules. This means that once a client has purchased a system, including a Freedom Data PC, they can upgrade their equipment to perform more tests without purchasing a new platform.

What if I have a small project and I am really more interested in someone doing the work rather than purchasing the equipment?

If you feel that you have a small project or a very specific type of project and you do not want to purchase an Olson Instruments system, you can contact their sister company Olson Engineering. Olson Engineering has provided state-of-the-art Structural and Infrastructure Condition Assessment services since 1985. The staff of Olson Engineering has been carefully assembled to have world-class expertise in the following consulting services areas:
  • Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) of Structures and Infrastructure
  • Structural Repair/Rehabilitation and Forensic Engineering
  • Structural Health Condition Monitoring
  • Geophysical Engineering
  • Vibration Engineering
  • Applied Research and Development
  • Training and Seminar Courses
For simple projects involving thickness testing of concrete, Olson Instruments rents out our Concrete Thickness Gauge (CTG) units by the week or month. This model is designed to be easily used by almost anyone with no formal training required.

How many shafts can be tested with CSL or SE/IR in one day?

The answer to this question is entirely dependent on the experience level of the user, the proximity of the shafts, the number of tube pairs (CSL), and whether or not the shafts have been previously prepared for testing. On average, however, an experienced user can setup and test a four-tube (6 tube pairs) shaft using CSL in approximately 15 to 30 minutes. When one factors in the time required for breakdown, travel, and set-up, the average number of shafts that can be tested is 8-10 in a single day. For SE/IR testing, the time per shaft varies greatly with access conditions and shaft top conditions. If there are many newly-placed foundations closely-spaced and with relatively smooth tops, testing rates of up to 6-10 foundations per hour can be reached. Other foundations may require much longer to test due to preparation time, etc.

How deep does GPR see?

Ground Penetrating Radar is a technology that is often used for identifying, locating, and mapping embedded objects, changes in material properties, and voids. This technology utilizes various frequencies of electromagnetic waves and therefore, requires a variety of antennas. As a rule of thumb, the higher the frequency of the antenna, the more restricted the depth of investigation but the higher the resolution in seeing small or closely-spaced objects. This does, however, depend on the material properties of the medium in question. For example when testing concrete, a 1500 MHz antenna will typically see down to 18 inches below the test surface. This investigation depth may be significantly shallower if the same antenna was used on clay-saturated soil. In order to determine the best antenna for your specific project, it is best to contact us directly. Be sure to check out the "Aladdin - GPR System" on our website (found under Products Distributed by Olson in the left navigation). Olson has partnered with IDS - GeoRadar Division of Italy to be their exclusive distributor in the United States. This GPR Testing Equipment is the most advanced system on the market that includes a full polar antenna that detects shallow and deep structures in a single pass with unparalled 3D image resolution.

Can I download my CTG data to a PC for further analysis?

The answer to this question depends on the CTG model being used. All current CTG systems include a download cable that will allow you to transfer a thickness summary table as well as all collected time domain data through a serial port to a PC. However, only the CTG-1TF models are shipped with the WINTFS post-analysis software required to analyze downloaded data. Please note that if needed, a customer with a CTG-T model can email data to Olson Instruments for further post analysis by our engineers.

Can I hook the Freedom Data PC to an external power source?

Yes, there are a variety of ways that a Freedom Data PC can be powered by an external source. The most common sources are 12-volt batteries. This connection is either made through the use of the supplied auto accessory power cord or directly with alligator clamps (not supplied). If you have questions pertaining to a direct connection using alligator clamps or connection to any other external power sources, please contact us directly.

What are the specifications for tube placement when performing PS testing?

When installing a cased borehole for PS testing, it is generally recommended that the tube is placed within 15 feet of the pile in question and that the tube extend at least 10 feet below the expected pile depth.

What kinds of objects embedded in concrete can GPR detect?

The general answer is that GPR will detect any objects with material properties that differ from those of concrete. Specifically, any metal objects (i.e. conduits, rebar, post-tensioned cables) and voids are easily detected with GPR testing. It is important to note that welded wire mesh often prohibits the detection of deeper objects and that fiber based (non-metallic) meshes are not detected with this technology. Please check out the Aladdin product sold in the USA by Olson Instruments if you are interested in learning more about the system before making a purchase. Olson Engineering professionals are highly skilled in GPR testing, and would provide the training (sold separately) for this system.

What kind of site access is required for SE/IR testing?

Sonic Echo/Impulse Response testing is usually performed on shafts or driven piles. The testing requires that a surface is available for mounting the geophone and accelerometer, as well as a location for impacting the member. When mounting the geophone and accelerometer, it is best that the surface is clean and relatively smooth. Testing can be conducted from the top of the shaft (even from a 1 inch lip at the edge) or from the upper 1 foot of the shaft side if exposed.

How long will a Freedom Data PC run?

The internal rechargeable lithium ion batteries included with the purchase of a Freedom Data PC allow for 6-8 hours of run time.

Can I buy Impact Echo Scanning equipment?

Only government agencies and universities can, except when approved for international. The IE scanner system is available to our international customers.

How easy is it to add additional test methods to my system in the future? Will I have to return the system to Olson for this?

Usually the system will have to be returned to us, but it depends on the original configuration ordered. If the number of channels of the new system is greater than the number of channels in the old system, it may have to come back to us for the upgrade.

Is it possible to upgrade my processor/screen size/hard drive size, etc?

Not usually, but all upgrades that are possible should be performed by an experienced Olson Instruments product specialist

Is training included in the price of the system?

Unless your quote specifies, training is not included in the price of your equipment purchase.

Is training recommended with the purchase of a system?

Yes, training is highly recommended with the purchase of a new system.

Can I use the Data PC with my non-Olson equipment that I already own? (i.e. geophone strings, sensors, etc.)

Olson Instruments offers custom system configurations, and can often provide interfaces to existing customer equipment. Please contact us for more information about specific systems.