Lightweight deflectometers for quality assurance in road construction

The use of Lightweight Deflectometers (termed LWDs in Europe, and occasionally PFWDs in the USA) for construction quality control or material investigation for road construction has increased worldwide. In the UK the change in pavement foundation design to a ‘performance based approach’ has brought about the use of Lightweight Deflectometers for field assessment of stiffness modulus. This paper reviews the LWD as a field evaluation tool. It discusses in some detail the test variables that can influence and affect the field data quality, and presents brief summaries of recent fieldwork where an LWD has been used as a quality control tool. The paper concludes both on the LWD usefulness and also its limitations for a variety of earthwork and road assessment scenarios, and describes a field test protocol for its use on a variety of materials. The findings demonstrate the flexibility of the LWD but also show that its determination of ‘stiffness modulus’ may differ from that of the conventional Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD) to a varying extent. The paper provides a useful reference document for LWD users, consultants, material specifiers, contractors and clients.