Lab Systems: Case Study
Automated Monitoring and Testing Boosts Productivity at UDOT Geotechnical Laboratory
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Geotechnical Laboratory in Salt Lake City provides laboratory testing of soils and rock for the geotechnical design of embankments, bridge foundations, retaining walls, slope stability and other geotechnical designs for state transportation systems. The organization makes extensive use of direct and residual shear tests.
Challenge: Automated Monitoring
The UDOT Geotechnical Lab runs direct shear tests on a regular basis and requires test equipment that is quick, efficient and reliable.
In early 2003, the Lab set out to replace its old direct shear equipment - which required constant attention during testing - with new equipment that would meet the organization's needs quickly and reliably. “We needed something we could count on test after test and day after day,” said Mark Graham, UDOT lab technician.
UDOT purchased Geocomp's Shear Trac II in March 2003, selecting the equipment over other options on the market because of its reliability, strong technical support and attractive cost/benefit ratio. The equipment now performs the consolidation and shear phases of the Lab's standard direct shear and residual shear tests under full automatic control.
The purchasing decision was influenced by cost as well as Geocomp's reputation for providing strong technical support. “In the past, we have had difficulty getting equipment manufacturers to respond to problems,” Graham said.
Geocomp's Shear Trac II has increased UDOT’s productivity dramatically.
“We are now able to get a lot more done in the same amount of time because we trust the machine to do what it was designed to do without constant monitoring,” Graham said.
Reliability is no longer an issue. “The quality of the equipment and its construction are superior,” Graham said.
UDOT's new Shear Trac II - the lab’s first totally automated test equipment - has opened Graham's eyes to the benefits of automation. “The benefits were obvious after the first test. Because the Geocomp system is totally automated, it allows us to work on other things while running a direct shear test, or we can let tests run overnight after everyone has gone home!” he said.
UDOT is also pleased with the new system’s advanced reporting capabilities.
“The software allows easy data retrieval and evaluation, and it generates quick, user-customized reports. None of this was possible with our old equipment!” Graham said.
The equipment began to pay for itself almost immediately. “The Shear Trac II is as close to plug and play as you can get. All the software was loaded and the equipment was ready to go to work the day it arrived,” Graham said. “Within a few minutes it was up and running.”
UDOC users find the Shear Trac II easy to operate. “The controls and displays on the Shear Trac II make it extremely easy to control the machine. But where it really excels is the software,” Graham said. “It is laid out logically so inputting test parameters is quick and easy.” Test parameters may be altered at any point during a test and applied immediately. “[We can] convert units instantly at any point before, during and after a test with a simple click of the mouse,” Graham said.
UDOC's old equipment used software developed by a third company. Software/hardware compatibility issues resulted in problems including “completely losing entire tests because of machine malfunction and resulting data loss,” Graham said. Selecting a comprehensive solution from Geocomp has completely eliminated these issues.
Geocomp's technical support team, led by Dr. Rachid Hankour, has been “outstanding,” Graham noted. “[Geocomp] is very prompt in getting back to us if we have a question,” he said. To date the equipment has not required maintenance.
“The equipment is designed with the geotechnical engineer in mind, and it is built right,” Graham said. “Efficiency and productivity are increased greatly with the right equipment, and Geocomp has the right equipment.”
"Efficiency and productivity are greatly increased with the right equipment, and Geocomp has the right equipment."
Mark E. Graham
Utah Dept. of Transportation Geotechnical Laboratory
Additional Case Studies
- About Lab Systems »
- Products Overview »
- Testing Options »
- Modular Universal Systems »
- Installation and Training »
- Global Presence
- Project Showcase »
Vice President and Director of Lab Systems
125 Nagog Park
Acton, MA 01720
978 635 0012