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1- Axially Loaded Piles

1.0 Introduction

This tutorial demonstrates the Axial Pile Analysis option in RSPile. Through this exercise, you will learn how to analyze a single pile in multiple soil layers under axial loading using RSPile. This tutorial will also help to familiarize you with the product’s basic functions and features.

Topics Covered in this Tutorial:

  • Multi-layer model
  • Soil types for axially loaded piles
  • Pile properties
  • Axial loading conditions
  • Export data to Excel

Finished Product:

The finished product of this tutorial can be found in the Tutorial 1 - Axial Pile Analysis.rspile2 data file. All tutorial files installed with RSPile can be accessed by selecting File > Recent Folders > Tutorials Folder from the RSPile main menu.

Want to watch a video version of the tutorial? Check out our Youtube channel here.


The RSPile modeller provides two distinct views:

  • The Plan View is a top-down view of the ground surface.
  • The 3D View enables easy visualization of results in three dimensions.

RSPile - Plan View vs 3D View

The Sidebar provides a variety of viewing controls and the contour legend. By default, both views and the sidebar are visible, but their relative sizes can be scaled as desired.

2.0 Model

When the RSPile program is started, a new blank document is already opened, allowing you to begin creating a model immediately.

Note on sign convention: In RSPile, the default ground surface is at depth = 0, depth is positive downwards, and compressive stress is positive.


The Project Settings is where you can change the analysis type, tolerance, number of iterations allowed, and the number of pile segments to be used in the analysis. To open the Project Settings:

  1. Select Home > Project Settings Project settings (CTRL + J).
  2. Go the the Pile Analysis Type tab and set the Pile Analysis Type to Individual Pile Analysis > Axially Loaded.
    Project settings dialog
  3. For this tutorial, keep all other default values as they are.
  4. The default units for RSPile are metric. To change this setting, go to the General tab and select Units.

    Notice that in addition to the Axially Loaded and Laterally Loaded options, under the Individual Pile Analysis header we also have an Axially / Laterally Loaded option. We have provided the Axially / Laterally Loaded analysis type specifically for RSPile integration with Slide2.

    With regards to the Advanced Settings, keep in mind that larger values of Pile Segments and Number of Iterations will increase the computation time, as calculations are performed at every node down the length of the pile.
  5. Click OK to close the dialog.


  1. Select Soils > Define Soil Properties Define soil properties (CTRL + 8).
  2. In this dialog, you can define the properties related to the Q-z, t-z, and p-y curves. There is a tab for the analysis type that you specified in the Project Settings (in this case, Axial) as well as for datum dependency. The Datum Dependency tab allows users to control linearly varying properties.

  3. Enter the following soil properties:
  4. Soil Property 1:

    • Name = Clay
    • Unit Weight = 17 kN/m3
    • Soil Type = API Clay
    • Undrained Shear Strength = 22 kPa
    • Remolded Shear Strength = 15 kPa
    • Maximum Unit Skin Friction = 1,000,000 kPa
    • Maximum Unit End Bearing Resistance = 1,000,000 kPa

    Soil Property 2:

    • Name = Sand
    • Unit Weight = 20 kN/m3
    • Soil Type = API Sand
    • Friction Angle = 35 degrees
    • Coefficient of Lateral Earth Pressure = 1
    • Bearing Capacity Factor = 40
    • Maximum Unit Skin Friction = 1,000,000 kPa
    • Maximum Unit End Bearing Resistance = 1,000,000 kPa

    soil properties

  5. Click OK to save your input and exit the dialog.


RSPile supports multiple boreholes and non-horizontal soil strata. When multiple boreholes are defined, the program will automatically interpolate between the boreholes. In this tutorial, we will model horizontal soil strata with a single borehole. To begin:

  1. Select Soils > Edit All Boreholes borehole editor
  2. The default soil column has a single layer and is located at (0, 0). To change the location, enter coordinates for X and Y. We will keep it (0,0) here.

  3. Click on Insert Layer Below Insert layer below icon to add another layer below the first. The Name column will fill in by soil property sequence.
  4. Layers are defined by thickness by default but may be defined by top and bottom elevation. This may be changed by toggling Define Layers by Thickness.

  5. Specify the following layer thicknesses:
  6. #



    Top Elevation

    Bottom Elevation











    The Soil Layer Column on the right side of the dialog will update automatically as layer thicknesses are defined.

    Edit Borehole dialog
  7. Click OK to save your input and exit the dialog.


Pile Sections are used to create your Pile Type. Pile types can be made of multiple pile sections depending on the complexity and composition of your pile. For this tutorial, we will just define one pile section.

  1. Select Piles > Pile Sections define pile section propertiesto open the Define Pile Section Properties dialog.
  2. Select Pile Section 1 and enter the properties displayed in the table below:
  3. Name

    Cross Section


    Pile Outside Diameter (m)

    Pipe Wall Thickness (m)

    Young's Modulus (kPa)

    Steel Pipe






    Define Pile Section properties dialog

  4. Click OK to save your input and exit the dialog.


  1. Select Piles > Single add pileto open the Add Pile dialog.

We have centralized all aspects of the pile definition in the Add Pile dialog. For the Axially Loaded, Laterally Loaded and Axially / Laterally Loaded analysis types the Add Single Pile and Add Pile Pattern options are available. For the Grouped Pile Analysis type, the Cap Designer must be used. In the Add Pile dialog, users specify:

  • Geometry – basic pile properties such as length and orientation are specified
  • Loading – pile head loading definition
  • Tractions - applied distributed loads
  • Displacement – displacement profile or axial /lateral resistance analysis
  • Multipliers – p-y, t-z, Q-z multipliers can be defined
  • Advanced – advanced analysis options such as Pile Length Analysis (the availability of the Advanced options varies based on pile analysis type)
See the RSPile Help for more information on specifying p-y multipliers, displacements, and advanced features.

2.5.1 Geometry

The Geometry tab allows users to specify the pile type and location of a single pile.

The pile type selected determines the pile sections the pile is composed of, the pile length and the alignment of the single pile. Alignment options include: elevation, ground slope angle, rotation angle, and orientation. Orientation may be specified in one of two ways: Alpha/Beta angle, or Vector position.

Add Pile - Geometry Tab

For this tutorial:

  1. Click on the Edit Edit button icon for the Pile Type and enter the following properties for Pile Type 1:
  2. Section Property

    Pile Head Elevation (m)

    Length (m)


    Alpha Angle

    Beta Angle

    Rotation Angle

    Steel Pipe






    Edit pile type dialog

  3. Click OK to close the Edit Pile Type dialog.
By default, the Location fields are grayed out and the mouse selection option is selected. The location of the pile can be entered in one of several ways. With the mouse selection option the pile location is entered graphically on the next screen by clicking on a location on the Plan View. If you deselect this option you can instead place your pile by entering coordinates into the X and Y fields. For this tutorial, we will leave the default option selected.

2.5.2 Loading

  1. Select the Loading tab.
  2. Add a new loading property by clicking the Add add icon.

RSPile provides users with the flexibility to analyze multiple piles in a single file, and the Loading Property manager tracks all the pile head loads for the entire model. A different Load Property can be defined for each pile, or the same Load Property can be used for all of the piles in the file.

With regards to load type, two options are available: cyclic or static loading. If cyclic loading is chosen, the number of load cycles may be specified, depending on the soil types used.

Axial Analysis only supports axial loading. Since we are looking at a single pile in this file we will add one load property only.

  1. Specify the following values:
  • Loading Property = Load Property 1
  • Loading = Static
  • Loading Factor Profile = None
  • Type = Force Z (kN)
  • Value = 100
  • Depth (m) = 0

Add Pile - Loading tab

The Displacement, Multipliers, and Advanced tabs will be explored in later tutorials.

  1. Click OK to save settings and close the dialog.

2.5.3 Placement

After clicking OK, RSPile will prompt the user to enter the (x, y) coordinates of the new single pile. You may enter the location manually in the prompt line in the bottom right of the screen or click a point on the Plan View to place it.

  1. Enter Location = (0, 0) in the prompt line in the bottom right of the screen.
  2. Press Enter.

Your model should look as follows. Notice that the soil column has now been updated to reflect the strata.

model 3d view

3.0 Results

  1. Save and compute the file by selecting Results > Compute compute


RSPile allows for the 3D visualization of results along the length of the pile. Use the Data Type drop-down to control what results are shown.

results dropdown

For an axial analysis, the following results are available:

  • Displacement Z
  • Beam Axial Force
  • Soil Reaction Force Z'
  • Soil Stiffness Z'
  • Skin Friction
  • End Bearing

Pile Results may be toggled on or off using the View Controls in the sidebar.

Results control view


  1. In the Plan View, right-click on the pile and select Graph Pile Graph pileor select to Results > Graph Pile, click on the pile in the Plan View and press Enter.

The RSPile results section presents several default graphs and a table of results. You should see the following

Graph pile

Axial pile analysis generates two default graphs, including:

  • Axial Displacement vs. Depth
  • Axial Force vs. Depth

The sidebar contains the Chart Controls, which allow you to select what information is displayed, and customize the appearance.

Results may be displayed in scientific notation or decimal form. To format the results, select Number Format from the toolbar and select the desired form. The number of decimals to be displayed may also be adjusted.


From the Charts tab you can export your data to Excel. To do so:

  1. Click on the Export Data to Excel Export to excel icon.

Each data type is exported to its own sheet in the Excel file.

4.0 Report Generator

The Report Generator presents a formatted summary of input data and analysis results.

  1. Go back to the model view and select Results > Report Generator report generator.
  2. A new window will open and you should see a summary of the model input data including:

    • Project Summary
    • Soil Layers
    • Soil Properties
    • Pile Section Properties
    • Pile Types
    • Pile Settings

    Report generator dialog

    The toolbar contains the Report Generator Controls, which allow you to select what information is displayed, and customize the appearance of the report.

    The data can be exported in a variety of ways: it may be manually copied, viewed in a browser, printed, or the information may be saved as a .pdf file. Prior to printing the file, results may be formatted to your specifications.

  3. Click on the Close Window Close icon in the Report Generator toolbar to close the viewer and return to the model view.

5.0 Property Tables

To end this introductory tutorial, we will highlight the Drawing Tools included in RSPile. These tools include the addition of Soil and Pile Properties tables.

To add these tables to the model view:

  1. Select Tools > Soil Properties Table or Pile Section Properties Table.
  2. Click anywhere on the Plan View to add a table.

pile section properties table

Once added, the tables may be edited, moved, or formatted as desired by using the right-click menu and selecting Format Tool.

This concludes the Axial Pile Analysis Tutorial. You may now exit the RSPile program.

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