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Laterally Loaded Piles

1.0 Introduction

This tutorial demonstrates how to analyze a single pile in multiple soil layers under various conditions in RSPile. Before proceeding with the tutorial, make sure you’ve gone through Tutorial 01 - RSPile Quick Start so you’re familiar with the product’s basic functions and features.

Topics Covered in this Tutorial:

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

Finished Product:

The finished product of this tutorial can be found in the Tutorial 2 - Lateral 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.

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 Analysis > Project Settings (CTRL + J) or click on the Project Settings Icon Project Settings icon in the toolbar.
  2. Project Settings

  3. Set the Pile Analysis Type to Laterally Loaded Pile.
  4. For this tutorial, keep the default values as they are.
  5. Tip: The default units for RSPile are metric. To change this setting, select Analysis > 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 Slide.

    Note: With regards to the Analysis 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.

  6. Click OK to close the dialog.


  1. Select Soils > Define Soil Properties (CTRL + 8) or click on the Define soil properties icon Define Soil Properties icon in the toolbar.
  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 each analysis type (Axial, Lateral, Driven) as well as for datum dependency. The Datum Dependency tab allows users to control linearly varying properties. While you can click through all tabs, you will only be able to edit material information that is relevant to the Pile Analysis Type selected in the Project Settings.

    Soil Properties dialog

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

      • Name = Soft Clay
      • Unit Weight = 15 kN/m3
      • Soil Type = Soft Clay Soil
      • Strain Factor = 0.02
      • Undrained Shear Strength = 32 kPa

    Soil Property 2:

      • Name = Sand
      • Unit Weight = 20 kN/m3
      • Soil Type = Sand
      • Friction Angle = 35 degrees
      • Kpy (kN/m3)= 16300 kN/m3
  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 > Borehole Editor or click on the Borehole editor icon Edit All Boreholes icon in the toolbar.
  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.

    Edit Borehole dialog

  3. Click on Insert Layer Below 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


    Soft Clay









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

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


  1. Select Piles > Pile Section Properties or click on the Pile Section with Pencil Icon Define Pile Section Properties icon in the toolbar.
  2. Select Pile 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 Properties dialog

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


Select Piles > Add Pile or click on the Add Single Pile iIon Add Single Pile icon in the toolbar.

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 location and pile type
  • Loading – pile head loading definition
  • 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 Dialog

For this tutorial, click on the edit icon for the Pile Type and enter the following properties for Pile Type 1:


Pile Property

Pile Head Elevation (m)

Length (m)


Ground Slope Angle

Alpha Angle

Beta Angle

Rotation Angle

Pile Type 1

Steel Pipe







Edit Pile Types Dialog

Click OK to close the Edit Pile Types dialog.

Note: 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 on the Green Plus button green plus button.

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.

Multiple loads may be added under each load property.

  1. Add two new loads under Load Property 1 by clicking on the Green Plus button green plus button at the bottom of the dialog.
  2. Specify the following types and values:



Moment Y (kNm)


Shear X (kN)


Add Single Pile dialog - Loading tab

The Tractions, 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 bottom right of the screen, or click a point on the Plan View to place it.

Enter Location = (0, 0) in the bottom right of the screen and press Enter.

Your model should now look like this:


Notice that the soil column has now updated to reflect the strata.

3.0 Results

Save and compute the file by clicking on the Calculator icon Compute icon in the toolbar.


RSPile allows for the 3D visualization of results along the length of the pile.

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

View controls

Use the Data Type drop down to control what results are shown.

Data Type drop down menu

For a lateral analysis, the following results are available:

  • Displacement X
  • Displacement Y
  • Rotation X
  • Rotation Y
  • Beam Shear Force X
  • Beam Shear Force Y
  • Beam Moment XY
  • Beam Moment YZ
  • Soil Reaction Force X
  • Soil Reaction Force Y
  • Soil Stiffness X
  • Soil Stiffness Y


Right-click on the pile and select Graph Pile.

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

RSPile Results Section

Lateral pile analysis generates the following default graphs:

  • Displacement vs. Depth
  • Rotation vs Depth
  • Beam Shear Force vs. Depth
  • Bending Moment vs. Depth
  • Soil Reaction Force vs Depth
  • Soil Stiffness vs. Depth

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


From the Results tab you can export your data to Excel. To do so, click on the Excel icon Export Data to Excel icon in the toolbar.

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.

Go back to the model view and click on the Info Viewer button Report Generator icon from the tool bar. The Report Generator contains a summary of the model input data:

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

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

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.

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


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

To add these tables to the model view, select Tools > Add Tool > Soil Properties Table or Pile Properties Table.

Click anywhere on the Plan View to add a table.

Pile properties table

Once added, the tables may be edited, moved, or formatted to your specifications.

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

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