Date posted: 10th September 2019 10:29
ELE International has been shortlisted for the British Engineering Excellence Awards 2019. ELE’s selection relates to the development of a new soils testing instrument, which will compete in the ‘New Mechanical Product of the Year’ category.
The new AUTO Soils Consolidator (ASC) has been developed for the construction industry to automate one of the most important soil tests. ELE Engineering Manager Richard Windsor explains: “Before work starts on the construction of new buildings it is first necessary to understand the behaviour of underground soils once they are subjected to the loads imposed by the foundations. This information is then used to inform the building design process.
“Soil samples are therefore collected and tested in a laboratory, and the consolidation test is one of the most important. Since 1910, this test has been performed on a frame that is manually loaded with weights – often 4 or 5 times per sample.”
Explaining the advantages of test automation, ELE Design Manager Gordon Cowen says: “The ASC fully automates the test from start to finish. This means that laboratory staff can leave the test running unattended, which frees them for other work. Automation also dramatically reduces the opportunity for human error and ensures that every test is conducted under the correct conditions, in accordance with international standards. The ASC therefore saves time and money, whilst substantially increasing the number of samples that can be tested in a day.”
Uniquely, the ASC has been designed to be able to manage manual consolidation tests as well as its own automated test. This means that laboratories do not have to scrap their existing equipment when they upgrade to the new automatic system. This also benefits teaching laboratories that need to demonstrate traditional methods as well as the automated procedures.
The advantages of the ASC are enhanced by the simultaneous launch of new test management software (DS8), and with Ethernet connectivity laboratory staff are able to monitor testing progress on up to 16 ASC machines remotely 24/7.
The winners of the British Engineering Excellence Awards will be announced in London on 11th October 2019, and Richard says he is both nervous and excited. Summarising, he adds: “Failure to design structures without taking into account the consolidation properties of bearing soils would incur a high level of risk because subsidence can be extremely costly. These tests are therefore extremely important, and high value projects should not be delayed by having to wait for laboratory results.
“Automation is affecting almost every area of engineering. In the case of the ASC it will help materials testing laboratories to ramp up the rate at which they can conduct high quality tests, which will be of great benefit to the construction industry.”