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INSPECTION & TESTING; The demands placed on systems and materials are increasing, but new developments in investigation and testing equipment are helping engineers to meet new standards.

DOWN TO EARTH: Designed to measure the effects of wind, waves, earthquakes and vibrations on soil stability, the new ELE Cyclic Triaxial System is one of the first machines of its type in this niche market. The product has been launched in the wake of recent disasters such as Hurricane Mitch which hit Honduras late last year .

ELE International's product specialist Shaun Pope said 'There is a growing demand for this type of product. It is an area people are becoming more aware of since disasters such as the 1996 Kobe earthquake.'

The system differs from other machines of its type as it has been designed to exactly replicate the conditions likely to exist within a foundation and simulate cyclic loading conditions which may adversely affect the bearing capacity.

The system has digital closed loop control to provide accurate wave shape loading. While standard wave shapes such as sine, square, haversine etc. are provided, the system can generate any desired wave shape and operate with sinusoidal loading at frequencies of up to 70Hz.

It comprises a load frame fitted with a 5kN 30mm stroke servo-controlled pneumatic actuator assembly and a control and data acquisition system (CDAS). The CDAS has eight transducer inputs and houses an additional module that controls the servo-valves for axial stress, radial stress and back pressure.

Pope said: 'There are one or two cyclic testing machines around now but they don't operate in the same way as ELE's system. As well as being able to test with unique waveshapes, the unit is air driven as opposed to hydraulically driven which gives a big cost saving.'

Pope said ELE International is aware there has been an increase in demand for this type of product and expects a particular interest in the cyclic triaxial system from the offshore industry.

ELE (01442) 218355

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