Written by William G. Handlos, P.E.
Choosing the Right Geocell
Does excellent quality and support matter to you? Of course it does. But, you are smart enough to know that there is no free lunch. Low cost alternatives are less expensive for a reason. So, what do you need to look for to recognize the right geocell for your project?
1. Quality Feedstock
Insist upon verifiable proof that your geocell is manufactured only with virgin high density polyethylene. While it is possible to achieve poor weld strength with virgin materials, it is impossible to achieve consistently excellent weld strength unless only virgin high density polyethylene is used.
2. Integral Components
Choose a geocell that offers connection components, tendons, stakes, load transfer clips and installation tools that are specifically tailored for the system. Using rope, staples, bent rebars (J hooks) and zip ties that are not specifically designed for use with a geocell engineered solution is unwise and potentially catastrophic. Use only designs that recognize the critical nature of these components to the overall success of the project.
3. Experience and Warranty
Choose a manufacturer who has thousands of projects and decades of experience. It is shocking how little some manufacturers understand about the principles and practices of engineering and soil stabilization solutions. Consider the value of a warranty offered by a company who just appeared on the scene or from private label pass through companies who source from numerous suppliers (unknown to you). Pass through private label resellers source from different manufacturers (from different countries) and you have no ability to control the quality of your material if you don’t know where it is being made. The value of a warranty is directly proportional to the stability and longevity of the company offering it.
4. Certification and Testing
Look for indications of product quality such as CE marking or manufacture certification under the ISO 9001 standard. Ask for proof of certification to make sure that you are not buying “empty acronyms”. Insist on a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that certifies the resin lot number, seam peel strength, and other key criteria of your geocell run to ensure the material shipped to the jobsite meets printed specifications. Everyone has a spec sheet. The value of a spec sheet is that it represents the characteristics of the product. Does the material that shows up at the site meet those specs? Make sure that higher quality “special run” material is not used for testing, while lower quality material is shipped to the job site. Test samples should be taken from warehouse floors, not made special for testing requests.
5. Design Support
If your geocell provider does not employ full time engineers and provide free design evaluation….ask yourself, why not? Excellent geocell manufacturers are solution providers….not just material mills.
6. Installation Support and Distributor Network Strength
Contractors should insist that their resellers be trained in construction methods so that geocell is properly placed and so that the contractor can get in and get out quickly. Good providers have tips, methods and custom tools to speed installation. Great manufacturers care about installation……not just moving material.
There should be no question about any detail and NEVER a question about the success of a project. Contractors and engineers deserve reputation assurance. Insist upon only geocell providers who are market leaders and who champion the category.
Follow these guides and you will sleep well knowing that your project will be a success.