What you need to know about concrete testing regulations
National regulations require systematic checks on the concrete during the construction phase of all our infrastructure, to guarantee control over the building materials in use. These acceptance checks shall be performed by executing concrete sampling alongside the casting of structural elements to verify the conformity of concrete characteristics in relation to those stipulated in the design phase.
Accuracy, traceability, and reliability of test results are paramount when performing concrete testing
Generally, the construction manager, or his/her technician, is responsible for the correct procedures to be adhered to:
- Obtaining proper concrete sampling
- Conserving samples according to Standard procedures
- Accurately identifying all samples
- Safely delivering all samples to an accredited testing laboratory to be verified
- Getting an accurate reporting of all corresponding test results
These tasks are necessary to guarantee the effectiveness and reliability of the control chain thus the construction manager must devise the most efficient process to follow.
The regulations encourage the use of any system that increases:
- Traceability of specimens, enabling samples to be identified in an unambiguous and inalterable manner by geolocating and dating the sampling. Examples include microchips or identification labels with QR or barcodes embedded in concrete for digitized reading and automatic geo- localization.
- Testing accuracy, achieved via high-specifications automatic equipment, ensuring consistent and trustworthy test results, regardless of the operator experience
- Reliability of the results obtained, allowing repetition of the tests without any errors or wrong results.
- Automation of the entire process, limiting the chances for human errors in labeling, entering data, exchanging samples, etc.
What testing equipment should you opt for?
Manufacturers of compression machines play a key role in the promotion and distribution of technologies to achieve transparency and reliability of test results. They are also crucial for the automation of the testing process, hence reducing the risks associated with manual operations. In this regard, your concrete compression machine should be:
For several years, manually controlled machines were the industry standard where the full compliance of the applied load to failure was literally at the hands of the operator. We know that the resistance result of the samples can contain errors of up to 15% or more if the applied load rate is too fast or too slow, and the only way to guarantee a constant and correct load rate is through automatic control systems.
Concrete compression machines with fully automatic load control take the responsibility away from the operator and put it firmly where it belongs… I.e., on the machine — to produce consistent and repeatable specimen testing.
Every sample is loaded in the same way — every time — regardless of which technician is working on the machine. The technology is available, it is not new and does not need to cost more than a manually controlled machine.
The compression machines, to obtain 100% of their potentiality and to improve the working life of the users, should be:
- Integrate with a third-party LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) software. Lab managers will be able to control the entire process, from sample acceptance to final test reports. As a result, the machine becomes a “connected” part of the testing laboratory infrastructure
- Take inputs from external devices, such as barcode readers, and calipers.
This way, a compression machine can identify the sample, and obtain all the data relating to its physical characteristics, such as weight and dimensions, without any need for manual input, therefore eliminating transposing errors.
Following the increasing request for transparency and reliability of concrete testing results, one of the latest developments in the concrete testing industry is the video recording of the test execution to provide a verifiable audit trail. Video recording is fundamental in achieving transparency: not only does it prove the test has been performed, but it also provides test results that cannot be altered, as the load and strength values are displayed in real-time and watermarked.
In addition, video recording, along with the embedded test results, can be saved and shared with stakeholders and provide long-term evidence on the quality of the concrete being used that can be retrieved at any time in case of future dispute.
Governments of countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Taiwan are already introducing specific legislation in this regard, asking for video recordings of the test to deliver a higher level of testing transparency and trust.
CONTROLS’ range of automatic compression machines now offer several new features:
- Our automatic compression machines are fitted with CONTROLS’ proprietary software (DATAMANAGER) that runs all testing automatically.
- Additional devices can be connected:
– Balance for specimen weight acquisition
– Caliper to measure sample dimensions
– Barcode reader to identify the specimen
– Smart camera for test execution recording
- At the beginning of the test, the machine PC software communicates with the smart camera.
- The camera reads and recognizes the barcode on the sample and ensures that this is the correct sample to be tested.
- The test starts and it is then automatically carried out up to the sample failure, without the possibility of further interventions by the operator.
- Test recording is automatically saved along with the test results in the PC software’s archive and is accessible by 3rd party engineers, clients, head office and branches alike.
- Raw data are always available in different formats (txt, excel, pdf, access) to be exported to the LIMS or laboratory/ corporate ERP systems.
Watch how it works!
Appropriate verification of building materials in the construction industry can not only ensure useful life and utilization requirements of the buildings. It can prevent catastrophes. In this respect, several countries rely on specific legislation and/or are introducing more and more material quality tests. Using a more automated approach and all the available testing systems that can reduce human error, manipulation, and adulteration practices is the way to ensure trustworthy and effective quality checks. Thus making structures safer.