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Materials & Construction

Following the design phase, a paramount focus must be to verify that elements are supplied and installed as specified to achieve acceptable performance. In particular, unforeseen conditions often occur during construction and require experienced, knowledgeable field engineers to develop solutions in a timely manner with effective communication. TREK has an extensive staff of qualified inspectors and a materials testing laboratory complete with mobile laboratory and field testing equipment. TREK has served as Contract Administrator and provided construction observation and testing services for a number of large geotechnical infrastructure projects including bridge foundations, riverbank remediation, roadways and flood protection infrastructure.

  • Materials Engineering
  • Dynamic Pile Load Testing (PDA Testing)
  • Construction Monitoring
  • Construction Observation

TREK Materials Engineering

Materials Engineering

TREK offers a full range of soil testing services to our clients. Our testing laboratory is a vital service to our engineering operations, which allows us full control and timely delivery of testing results and provides a full range of testing of soils and aggregates using traditional tests as well as advanced test methods. We provide quality control testing of borrow and aggregate materials for engineered fills, and base and sub-base materials in the field and laboratory. Our mobile operations provide quality control testing services remotely and we have provided on-site laboratories for several long-term projects. Materials specifications for construction projects must suit project requirements and be based on available resources; we develop construction specifications, conduct borrow assessment and have developed standardized specifications for municipalities. Construction issues related to materials inevitably occur and our qualified materials technicians and technical staff can provide timely, on-site solutions.

Our services related to materials testing includes:

  • Moisture Content Determination
  • Atterberg Limits (Plasticity)
  • Grain Size Analysis (Sieve and Hydrometer Methods)
  • Unconfined Compression Testing of Soil and Rock
  • Proctor Compaction Testing
  • Field density testing (Nuclear densometer, sand cone)
  • Sample Extruding and Visual Classification
  • LA Abrasion
  • Hydraulic Conductivity Testing (Flexible and Rigid Wall Permeameter)
  • Consolidation Testing (Oedometer)
  • Concrete sampling and compressive testing
  • Quality control testing for aggregate production

TREK Dynamic Pile Load Testing (PDA Testing)

Dynamic Pile Load Testing (PDA Testing)

High-strain dynamic pile load testing is a non-destructive procedure for testing piles to measure driving stresses, evaluate hammer performance, assess pile integrity during driving, and collect data for signal matching analysis for measurement of pile capacity and establishment of driving criteria. TREK owns a Pile Driving Analyser (PDA®) and CAse Pile Wave Analysis Program (CAPWAP®) signal matching software. Our personnel has more than 10 years of dynamic testing experience throughout Manitoba and Saskatchewan. We can perform dynamic testing and analysis on a variety of pile types including concrete (driven or cast-in-place), steel and timber piles. Following Limit States Design, dynamic testing provides an opportunity to reduce foundation costs by allowing for use of higher resistance factors and thus less piles, resulting in more cost-effective and reliable designs. We understand and respect construction schedules and thus our personnel have become very efficient performing the tests and delivering results to our clients.

  • Dynamic monitoring using the PDA® to evaluate driving stresses, hammer performance, and pile integrity during production piling
  • PDA Testing of Precast Concrete Piles, Steel H-Piles and Pipe Piles
  • PDA Testing of Specialized techniques for testing Cast-in-Place Concrete Piles
  • Signal matching analysis using CAPWAP® to measure pile capacity, distribution of shaft friction and end-bearing, and to confirm driving criteria
  • Forensic assessments of existing piles
  • On-site CAPWAP analysis to quickly resolve non-conforming piles and develop field resolutions
  • Reliability-based design calibration for site-specific resistance factors (large projects) to reduce piling quantities

TREK Construction Monitoring

Construction Monitoring

Construction monitoring is key to ensuring projects are constructed following proper procedures and best practices, and satisfying specifications, design assumptions and intent. Quality assurance is an essential task to routinely monitor specification adherence, and must be diligently undertaken to identify deviations early, implement corrective action and develop alternative approaches as necessary when dealing with new or changed conditions. We provide a range of construction monitoring services to satisfy project needs.

Our construction monitoring services include:

  • QC materials testing (soil, aggregates) including on-site services
  • Pile installation inspection and PDA testing
  • Sub-grade inspection
  • Contract Administration
  • Instrumentation and monitoring (settlement sensors, piezometers, slope inclinometers, vibration monitoring, soil temperature)
  • Data acquisition systems to capture real-time data

TREK Construction Observation

Construction Observation

TREK employs quality control and assurance programs to safeguard that proper construction means and methods are used on every element of every project. We establish that construction is being performed in accordance with the project plans, specifications, best practices and to the design intent developed by our engineering professionals. We gather, analyze and measure information to verify and document that materials and methods being used meet the standards required for the project. Testing and analysis protocols are established and reviewed with all parties involved in construction at the outset of any project such that a clear understanding and expectations are established prior to beginning the work. Reports are presented daily and weekly that clearly, accurately and consistently provide a record of proper project delivery. Special methods developed or modified to meet unique field conditions are documented in specific field procedures for reference and retrieval as required. Rest assured the team at TREK will apply its experience in construction observation to ensure the product delivered meets the expectations of clients on every project.

James Blatz, Ph.D., P.Eng., FEC

President and CEO
Senior Geotechnical Engineer

James Blatz is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and founding partner at TREK with 20 years of experience in consulting and applied research. James provides technical support and project management on geotechnical projects for diverse projects across our market sectors. He specializes in numerical modeling of soil behaviour including finite element stress deformation, seepage, thermal and multi-phase flow applications as well as interpretation of soil behaviour from laboratory testing. James has extensive experience as a technical design reviewer on major projects such as the Keeyask Work Camp foundation design and construction, the Red River Floodway Expansion, the Fort Hills Ore Processing Facility design, the Ste. Adolphe Emergency Bridge Rehabilitation and as a technical expert on a number of legal claims and formal alternative dispute resolution processes. James also has extensive research experience in the areas of geosynthetic soil reinforcement, ground improvement techniques, temporary flood protection products and probabilistic slope stability analysis. James is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at TREK and a key member of TREK’s leadership team.

Nelson Ferreira, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Senior Vice-President and COO
Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Nelson Ferreira is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and founding partner at TREK with over 16 years of experience practicing in Manitoba, western Canada and the North. His experience involves earthworks, riverbanks and bridges including the Red River Floodway expansion, the Distance Early Warning (DEW-Line), and several East Side Road projects (both roads and bridges). Nelson completed an M.Sc. in geotechnical engineering in 2002 studying the effects of unsaturated soils on the stability of cutting slopes. In 2016, he completed his Ph.D. in geotechnical engineering examining the risk to buried gas pipelines subjected to ground movements (landslides). Nelson specializes in geotechnical investigations, construction management, erosion protection, materials, and engineering in remote locations. Nelson is Senior Vice-President and Chief Operations Officer (COO) and a key member of TREK’s leadership team.

Michael Van Helden, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Vice-President Finance and CFO
Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Michael Van Helden is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and founding partner at TREK with over 10 years of experience. He specializes in numerical modeling and design of slope stabilization works, the use of probabilistic methods in geotechnical engineering, and the design, construction and testing of deep foundations. Michael has lead the design and construction of foundations for dozens of bridge and culvert structures in Manitoba and Ontario. Michael manages dynamic pile load testing services at TREK, and has provided PDA testing and CAPWAP analysis on numerous structures. He achieved the rank of Intermediate on the Dynamic Measurement and Analysis Proficiency Test for PDA testing. Michael was the project manager and lead geotechnical engineer for some notable projects, including the replacement of the 1st Street Bridge in Brandon, Manitoba, which includes driven steel pile and drilled shaft foundations in clay shale. Michael was recognized for his career achievements with the APEGM Early Achievement Award in 2013. Michael is a Vice-President and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and a key member of TREK’s leadership team.

Kent Bannister, M.Sc., P.Eng.

Vice-President Engineering and CTO
Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Kent Bannister is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and partner at TREK having worked in the geotechnical engineering field for 18 years in both the private and public sectors. His consulting experience has included positions in Manitoba and Alberta, and he also served as the Head of Manitoba Hydro’s Geotechnical Engineering Section for several years. Kent experience is diverse, ranging from dam safety, to mine waste containment, heavy industrial foundations and riverbank stabilization projects. Since joining TREK in 2012, Kent has been the project lead for several large design-build or PPP infrastructure and energy projects, including the Keeyask Generation Station Work Camp foundations, Winnipeg’s Southwest Rapid Transit Stage 2 project, the Riel Converter Station Synchronous Condensers foundations, and the McOrmond and Boychuk Interchanges in Saskatoon. Kent contributed to TREK’s rapid growth and joined the ownership team and Board of Directors in 2013; Kent is now a Vice-President and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and a key member of our leadership team.

Ken Skaftfeld, M.Sc., P.Eng.

Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Ken Skaftfeld is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and partner at TREK and has over 30 years of experience. Ken specializes in slope stabilization, engineering in peat and muskeg, and cold regions engineering. Throughout his career, Ken has contributed to projects in Western Canada, North-western Ontario, the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Ken has diverse experience in the public and private sectors, including work on railways, roads, bridges, mine tailings facilities, dams, slope stabilization and erosion protection. Some notable projects Ken has worked on include Decommissioning of DEW-Line sites in the Canadian arctic, as well as Dike Upgrading works at the Farley and Fox mine sites in Lynn Lake, Manitoba. Kens impact on TREK’s practice has been invaluable and he joined the ownership team and Board of Directors in 2013.

Brent Hay, P.Eng.

Director, Corporate Secretary
Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Brent Hay is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer and partner at TREK and has nine years of geotechnical and geo-environmental consulting experience. The extent of his work includes project management, contract administration and the geotechnical design and analysis for various projects throughout Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Nunavut. Brent’s projects have included civil infrastructure and remediation of contaminated sites, foundation design for bridges and structures, community flood protection works and slope stabilization and rehabilitation works. Major projects Brent has been involved with include various Dew Line Clean Up Project sites in Northern Canada, the Keeyask Generating Station Work Camp Construction, the Keewatinohk Bi-Pole III Converter Station, and the Former Snow Lake Mine Site Surface Capping System in Northern Manitoba. Brent joined TREK in 2011 and has been on the ownership team and Board of Directors since 2014.

Ryan Belbas, M.Sc., P.Eng.

Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Ryan Belbas is a Geotechnical Engineer with 10 years of consulting experience. Ryan has extensive experience in construction, having observed the installation of thousands of piles, as well as high-strain dynamic load testing (PDA testing) of hundreds more. Since joining TREK in 2014, Ryan served as Lead Geotechnical Engineer and Project Manager on numerous projects, including the Ness Avenue Replacement Bridge over the Sturgeon Creek. Ryan has provided construction observation of rock-socketed caissons in Winnipeg at several sites, including the Riel Converter Station, and participated in the first Osterberg-cell load test in Wininpeg.

Jim Friesen

Jim Friesen, P.Eng.

Manager of Water Resource Engineering
Senior Water Resource Engineer

Jim Friesen is a Senior Hydro-technical Engineer and Manager of TREK’s Water Resources group and has 20 years of experience. Jim has provided hydrologic and hydraulic analysis and designs to urban, rural and First Nation Clients in Water Resources and Municipal Engineering. His services have been applied to hydraulic modelling; infrastructure design; flood protection development; technical investigations; mine water management, environmental protection designs; Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis; economic cost benefit studies; and provision of resident engineering services relating to the design and construction of municipal infrastructure, drainage and shoreline protection. Jim joined TREK in 2017 to lead a new Water Resource Engineering group to complement our established geotechnical practice.

Bruce Harding, P.Eng.,

Senior Water Resource Engineer

Bruce Harding is a Senior Hydraulic Engineer at TREK and has 28 years of hydraulic engineering experience on water resources related projects. Bruce has considerable experience in hydraulic structure design, having participated in the design of various spillways, control structures, fishways, bridges and box culverts for numerous clients. Bruce has developed designs to provide habitat (fishery) compensation to mitigate habitat disruption and loss at numerous projects. After 12 years as a sole practitioner, TREK acquired Bruce Harding Consulting in 2017 to form a new water resources group under Bruce’s technical oversight.