Good News Autumn/Winter 2016/2017

by Elizabeth Withington 31/01/2017 filed under General News



“Thanks for the guys efforts, they have done a great job and kept to the programme, which was greatly appreciated by everyone.”


Central House

“I would like to say that throughout the project my colleagues feedback of Sam has been very positive and his efforts the last two days have been greatly appreciated”

Central House Phase II

“Just an email to say that I was very happy with the works undertaken at Central House today and yesterday. The work rate and effort of your crew was much appreciated.  Carl, and both others too, were great to work with on a challenging job. “

Central House Phase III

“The works this week went very well. The work rate and good attitude of your drillers and your engineer was fantastic. Thanks as well for your organisation on this project, it has also been much appreciated.”


Work Experience

“I just wanted to thank you quickly for accommodating the work placement this week.  I really appreciate you taking me through inductions, logging and the variety of lab testing GEL offers.  Could you please pass on my regards to Liz for allowing me to partake in the Academy yesterday as well.”



“Please also thank James and Liam on my behalf. They did a cracking job on very short notice.”


Mytholmroyd Station

Thank you very much for the document. And of course, thank you very much for the work of your colleagues. Everything was finished in time without delays, so thanks for that.”



“Zoe was very professional and a pleasure to have on site.  The ground has been left in a very good state. The driver was a very good one.”


Main Contractor

“On another note we had the CEO of BAM Nuttall and the Divisional Director for BAM Ritchies on site yesterday for a visit. They visited a couple of the GEL rigs (Brett and Chris) and were very impressed, quote: “The site and people we saw today are an absolute credit to our business. Great work guys - well done.”” “I would like to echo his sentiments and say that we are impressed with the attitude of all the GEL personnel on site and thank you for your continued efforts.”


First Street Manchester

“Thank you Ben, you’ve been (both yourself and Geotechnical) fantastic on this job throughout. “


Cross Point Business Park

“We have now issued all the survey data to the client. Please pass on my thanks to the rest of your team for their efforts and I look forward to working with you again on future projects.”


Sun Inn

“Just to let you know that Sun Inn was the last of a portfolio of 84 petrol stations sites we have been closing out as part of a programme of works, now completed, in which Geotechnical have supported us since 2014.  So thanks for all your inputs to the programme and contributing to make this a safe and successful project.”

Thermal Resistivity Testing

by Elizabeth Withington 31/01/2017 filed under Laboratory Services


The geotechnical testing laboratory at Geotechnical Engineering can now offer the laboratory measurement of thermal resistivity and conductivity. This measurement is used in the design of underground electrical cables. Electrical cables generate heat and knowing the ability of the surrounding soil to conduct that heat is important when assessing the cable protection required and their operating life.


The main standard for this test that we have adopted is the American Standard – ISRM D5334-14. We can also undertake testing to the other listed standard IEEE 442 – 1981. Both standards originate from America – there is no European equivalent.  There are slight variations in test method that the lab will need to know in advance:  the ISRM method requires the sample to be heated for 60 seconds with readings being taken 20 to 30 times during the test; whilst the IEEE method requires the temperature to be recorded every 15 seconds for 10 minutes.


The test can be carried out on undisturbed and dynamic samples – the test specimen needs to be a minimum of 200mm long and at least 50mm in diameter. 


The test can also be carried out on recompacted samples. Recompacted tests will require compaction to a specific density/moisture content.  The client should inform of such requirements and there will be a cost associated with this recompaction.


The thermal resistivity and conductivity test includes for the determination of moisture content and the calculation of bulk density.


Variations on the test include measuring the thermal resistivity of a sample at received moisture content, fully saturated and fully dried.   Prices should be confirmed with the lab manager prior to testing on 01452 527743 or .

UKAS Extension to Scope

by Elizabeth Withington 04/11/2016 filed under Laboratory Services


Geotechnical Engineering is delighted to announce an extension of our scope in our UKAS accredited geotechnical laboratory testing.  We have now added Particle Density, Shear Strength, one dimensional consolidation and unconfined compressive strength to our already comprehensive list.  The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the national accreditation body for the United Kingdom, recognised by government, to assess against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.


We value this accreditation, not only because it provides our clients with reassurance that the data we produce can be used in confidence to reduce their risk, but because it is a formal recognition that we are competent to perform specific processes, activities and tasks in a reliable, credible and accurate manner. The accreditation also underpins the quality of our results by ensuring their traceability, comparability and validity.


A full schedule of our accreditation can be viewed at  Please contact us for more information on how our experience and capability can help you.

Case Studies - Our Approach

by Elizabeth Withington 20/10/2016 filed under Case Studies


Geotechnical Engineering works throughout the UK providing utility clearance, drilling services and laboratory testing to the construction industry.  We work predominantly in the road, rail, utility and commercial sectors, but we also offer geotechnical and geoenvironmental drill only services.  We provide quality data to our Clients by using our innovative and flexible approach, with Health and Safety always as our top priority. 


We regularly post case study information to demonstrate our capability in site investigation where we work together with the Client, resolving issues around site access, providing technical expertise and generating quality ground investigation data to reduce their risk. 


To keep up to date with how we develop our expertise visit our case studies page at:

Our Carbon Footprint

by Elizabeth Withington 08/08/2016 filed under General News


The UK’s Climate Change Act 2008 sets the framework for how the UK will manage and respond to the threat of climate change.  Under the Act, the UK must reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  The Act introduced legally binding carbon budgets and in order to meet these budgets, we will all have to collectively reduce our total emissions. 


Geotechnical Engineering is committed to take responsibility for our GHG emissions and we do this through the implementation of our Quality, Environmental and H&S Management System (QEHSMS).  To help achieve and maintain these standards we have established a QEHSMS plan where we aim to avoid and reduce pollution, achieve compliance through training our staff, limit our environmental impact by reducing our waste materials, preventing reoccurrence of any incidents and to record, monitor and publish as appropriate statistics related to Quality, Environmental and H&S improvements.


The UK government recognised that for organisations to take action to reduce their emissions they must have the appropriate tools and guidance and that measuring GHG emissions is the first step to effectively managing them.  To review the environmental impact of our activities and how we measure our GHG emissions we recently engaged Sustainable Direction to review our carbon footprint in accordance with the government guidance.  This included our energy usage within our headquarters at Gloucester, as well as our carbon footprint value for fuel used in the activities of our vehicles and plant, a major contribution to our overall footprint.  


We are delighted that the survey showed that we have reduced our per-employee carbon footprint for our gas and electricity consumption over the past six years.  They also confirmed that our investment in a modern vehicle and drilling fleet, using Lightfoot and planning ahead to reduce journeys was helping reduce our carbon footprint.


Neil Parry, Technical Director at GEL commented:  The work that Sustainable Direction carried out for us was exactly what we required.  The report they provided will enable us to continue our drive towards becoming a more efficient and sustainable business.  We were particularly pleased to collaborate with a company that shares our innovative and responsible attitude to business.


Good News Summer 2016

by Elizabeth Withington 04/08/2016 filed under General News


Ross on Wye

I have spoken with the Environment Agency and, on the strength of your report, they says that we are now in a position to surrender the licence. Hurray! Well done on your part.

They seem to think that you are acting as my agents in this matter and, although I realise that that is well outside what you had contracted to do, I should be grateful if you were able to carry on in that vein. We seem to have a rapport with the EA and it would be a pity to break it up. Extra charges from yourselves, so be it.

For the record, they suggested what should be done and we did it. Apparently we proved much easier to deal with than many larger organisations!

Land Owner



I just wanted to drop you an email to pass on a huge thank you to your team for the way in which they conducted themselves whilst working on site.

I had expected a number of complaints due to the nature of the works that were happening and I am delighted to confirm that I did not receive a single complaint whilst your chaps were on site.

They worked neatly and with minimum disruption all round and once off site you would not have known they had been there.

In addition, all of the guidelines we discussed on your first visit were adhered to throughout for which I am very grateful as it has certainly made things easier at my end of things.

In addition, they were a pleasure to deal with in respect of communication (I have dealt with a number of sub-contractors over the years and none have been up to the standard of your guys in terms of how they went about their business).

I do not believe there is enough positive feedback passed on when it is due and I strongly believe in giving credit where credit is due.

Perhaps you would be kind enough to relay this to your team.

Lettings & Property Manager 



I just wanted to say thank you to Will, Danny and his second man. They were brilliant throughout the works, despite having to wear Tyvex and gas masks whilst drilling in some pretty horrid conditions.

Please pass on my thanks to all of them.  




The site presented a large number of challenges to the ground investigation, namely asbestos, extensive relic foundations and tunnels, management of users of the community allotments on the site and dealing with unexpected contamination in the form of hydrocarbons. Geotechnical Engineering had a pro-active approach and a positive attitude throughout, helping us to get the information we needed with the minimum amount of fuss, and we look forward to working with them again.



With your permission I would like to take your contact details with me, as I am moving to a similar role.

I would finally like to thank you for all of your kind help and support over the years – you guys are ace!

Mil-Ver Metal Company



Please pass on our thank to your team for completing the GI works at the weekend.



Swindon– various Surveying Sites

OK – we will cover that – just add it to your invoice.

We really appreciate your dedication!

Swindon Borough Council,


Woodchurch– utility surveying

Good turn around and well presented.

Thanks very much.

Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald


Radlett - Health and Safety audit

Firstly, I must commend you and your team for running a first class operation. Not limited to – display of welfare info (F10/hospital) in the welfare van, correct/full use of PPE, equipment calibrated/within date and a first class TM crew

PB World



Just a quick email to say that the drillers last week were excellent throughout. They were extremely patient during both jobs which turned into a bit of a nightmare and I cannot fault anything. I haven’t come across many drillers who would have worked that hard with everything going against us, so please pass on my thanks to them.

SLR Consulting Limited



Farnley Haugh

The lads were a great group of drillers to work with – hard working, polite and very conscientious in getting the work done to the highest possible quality. We much appreciate all their efforts and look forward to working with them again in the near future.


Hayling Down

Could you please pass on my thanks for the excellent work carried out by Rob and Chris on this job. I was incredibly impressed by their professionalism, work ethic and knowledge. I would be very happy to work with them again.

SLR Consulting



by Elizabeth Withington 12/07/2016 filed under General News


In July Geotechnical Engineering were delighted to be the Gold Sponsors of Geotechnica 2016.  Geotechnica is a major industry event established in 2009 to celebrate all that is good about the geotechnical and geo-environmental sector, from manufacturers and suppliers through to contractors and consulting engineers. The event brings together all parts of the industry in a single focused event helping to promote specialist services, products and innovations.  No other event brings together such a diverse and focused group of specialists. With a conference, live demonstrations, technical presentations, equipment and services on display throughout, the exhibition covers all bases.


But why was it such a privilege to be the Gold Sponsors this year?  2016 is a remarkable year for the civil engineering sector as Brunel University celebrate their 50th anniversary year, and Geotechnica was privileged to be able to hold the event within the University Conference Suite.  Brunel received its Royal Charter in 1966 and has firmly established itself as a dedicated provider of quality higher education allied to industry, with a strong culture of research, and a constant focus on work-relevant study through its work-placement system. Brunel has always been a dynamic place to work and study, constantly reinventing itself, whilst managing to remain true to its origins and relevant to the needs of the wider society.


To reflect the excellence being carried out by the university, Geotechnica realigned itself this year, placing more of a focus on the conference with many high calibre speakers presenting current thinking and practice in a diverse range of subjects from Health and Safety, major projects, specialist services and communication.


Delegates to the conference were also able to explore the trade stands where the most innovative suppliers to the industry were able to demonstrate their own expertise, but also together they could explore what we need to do in the industry to move forward. 


And finally, Andrew Milne, Managing Director of GEL presented a “Spotlight on the UK Ground Investigation Industry” challenging delegates to consider how we view the industry, do we need improvement, do we need to move the industry forward, do we adhere to standards.  He invited delegates to read the position paper from the joint working party of the AGS and BDA and to take part in the survey.  Further details of the initiative can be found at

Looking to the Future

by Elizabeth Withington 29/06/2016 filed under Careers


This week GEL welcomed Geology A level students from Wynstones School here in Gloucester.  As part of the A Level Syllabus the students need to study Engineering Geology.  Practically we couldn’t take the students out to lots of sites and so we used good old PowerPoint to introduce them to many of the sites that GEL has worked on across the UK.  These included many rail and road projects where some have been damaged by land movements, or new cuttings and embankments are required; dams and reservoir projects where ground movement, leakage or suspected loss of integrity is suspected; and projects in coastal areas where significant ground loss has occurred.


Following a tour of our premises where the students were shown our Terrier, Pioneer and P60 rigs, the students started work in our laboratory.  Technicians Susan Radford and Tom Best guided the students in the preparation of samples for liquid and plastic limits, liquid limit testing and the rolling of the clay during the plastic limit test.  The students were also shown compaction testing, particle size distribution tests and our high end testing room where we discussed oedometers and effective stress.


Back in the classroom the students discussed the effects of shrinkage and swelling of clays and carried out an exercise to determine the depth of foundations required using the results of liquid and plastic testing and the NHBC guidelines.


Here at GEL we were delighted to be able to demonstrate to the students the many aspects to being an engineering geologists, whilst the students expressed their thanks to all of the staff that had helped them have a great morning. 



by Elizabeth Withington 23/06/2016 filed under Rail



This week Geotechnical Engineering have been attending Rail Live, a major event in the rail calendar that showcases the fantastic rail capability that we have here in the UK.  The event is attended by mainline infrastructure operators, government bodies and agencies, service suppliers, innovation pioneers, consultants, academics and many more. 


Geotechnical Engineering is known as both a provider of integrated geotechnical services to the rail industry, and an innovator.  Our integrated service capabilities were demonstrated at Rail Live through our team of utility service surveyors, our drillers, our geotechnical laboratory technicians and our engineering geologists. However, because of the great facilities at Rail Live we were also able to demonstrate our innovative and award winning P60 Slope Climbing rig.  Throughout the show we were able to move the P60 on one of the embankments of the site and demonstrate not only its versatility on the slope but also its drilling capability. 


Rail Live is a great opportunity for everyone working in the rail sector to meet, discuss, collaborate, innovate and do business.  We are looking forward to meeting everyone again in 2017.

GOLD Sponsors for Geotechnica 2016

by Elizabeth Withington 03/06/2016 filed under General News



Geotechnical Engineering are pleased to be Gold Sponsors for Geotechnica 2016.  This year Geotechnica 2016 will be partnering with Brunel University to celebrate their 50th year with a conference based event.  With many celebrated industry speakers including Professor Eddie Bromhead, Professor Iain Stewart and Professor David Norbury the conference will discuss topics including the right approach for ground investigation, ground investigation techniques and emerging technologies. 


We invite all stakeholders from within the geotechnical industry, whether from consultancy, contractor or supplier, to join us for these two days to discuss, share and contribute. 


For details of where to apply for your tickets lease visit the Equipe website at:

Confidence 24/7

by Elizabeth Withington 23/05/2016 filed under Innovation


In May, site staff at Geotechnical Engineering are being issued with new identity cards which will allow their site certification to be viewed at any time, on any site, without the need for paper copies or the exchange of emails.  Each member of staff has been issued with a card that clearly identifies them by name, staff photo and their job title.  On the card is also a quick response (QR) code which is a machine readable label which can be read by mobile phones or mobile devices.  By scanning the code, the reader can quickly access all of the staff’s training certificates which are held in the Cloud, ensuring that they are trained, competent and up to date for the required task.


This innovative approach is one of the many suggestions from staff that our research and development manager Chris Jones receives that enables Geotechnical Engineering to continually adapt and develop our systems and ultimately our service to Clients.  You can now have confidence that we have the correct certification for the project 24/7.

Geotechnical Engineering's New Lightweight Terrier Rig

by Elizabeth Withington 10/05/2016 filed under Drilling


As a leading supplier of ground investigation data to the rail industry Geotechnical Engineering are always looking to improve our service both in terms of health and safety, quality and efficiency.  The majority of this rail work is carried out during track possessions using rail compliant equipment, and that equipment is transported on rail trolleys. 


In early 2016 we recognised the need to have standard dynamic sampling equipment that can be placed on rail trolleys with a safe working load (SWL) of 1 tonne.  Therefore, in April 2016 we took delivery of a new lightweight Terrier rig from Dando Drilling International.


This compact and manoeuvrable crawler mounted Terrier Rig is capable of dynamic sampling, dynamic probing and standard penetration test (SPT) testing, along with U70 sampling.  The difference to a standard Terrier Rig is that it is constructed from lightweight materials.


Additionally, as well as its capacity to be transported on rail trolleys the rig also has the advantage of a low ground pressure ideally suited to working in environmentally sensitive areas. 


by Elizabeth Withington 14/04/2016 filed under Rail


Geotechnical Engineering Limited will be once again be exhibiting at Rail Live, which this year will be held on June 22nd and 23rd at Long Marston near Stratford on Avon.  The event, partnered by The Rail Alliance and Network Rail, is a showcase for railway infrastructure and all industry colleagues are invited to come along.


In 2014, Rail Live gave the opportunity for the industry to meet with suppliers from all aspects of the infrastructure business, to drive efficiency, quality and reliability. In addition, Rail Live 2014 provided rail suppliers with a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate and exhibit their capabilities. Visitors were able to meet with suppliers and industry organisations, to watch live demonstrations of their capabilities and techniques and to see innovation in action.


Rail Live 2014 included:


Why not come along and visit us?


Whats Your Company Vehicle? A Passat? An Audi? A Skoda? No. Its Work Equipment.

by Elizabeth Withington 14/03/2016 filed under Equipment


What’s Your Company Vehicle? A Passat, an Audi, a Skoda?  No, it’s Work Equipment.

In the third of our series of articles looking at aspects of Health and Safety we are looking at the regulation of equipment in the workplace: the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).  These regulations cover all equipment ranging from catering food mixers and step ladders, to company vehicles and drilling rigs.


The regulations state that equipment provided for use at work is:



So what must you, the employer, do?



So how does all of this apply to a company vehicle?  How do you make sure it is suitable use so that it will it safely and legally carry the load required? Will go “off-road” if required? Is it robust enough to travel long distances?  How do you make sure it is safe to use?  Is it regularly serviced, does the driver regularly check the condition of the vehicle especially the tyres, brakes lights and steering?  How do they record these checks?  Is the operative competent to drive the vehicle? Do they have the correct licence, are they adequately trained and experienced in the size of vehicle? Is the vehicle being used appropriately?


At Geotechnical Engineering we comply with PUWER with respect to our company vehicles by using our experience and knowledge to provide a range of appropriate vehicles for our fleet, from cars and small vans, to 10 tonne transporters and flatbed trucks.  We carry out risk assessments for each site and select the appropriate vehicle.  We train and supervise our staff to use vehicles appropriately.  We carry out routine daily and weekly checks, including for vehicle body defects, and record them, and plan and record scheduled vehicle maintenance.  With regard to our personnel we check vehicle driving licences at the start of employment and at regular intervals and all new drivers are assessed by our Transport Manager who is a trained driving instructor.  To assist our drivers we include signage in vehicles where necessary, to inform the driver of safe working loads, vehicle safety alerts, COSHH sheets etc.


So how does all of this apply to company rigs?  Is the rig suitable for use?  Is it being operated outside of its user manual guidelines or should a different rig be used? Is it safe to use? Is it regularly serviced, does the lead driller regularly check the condition of the rig?  How do they record these checks? Is it compliant with LOLER?  Is the lead driller competent to operate that particular rig? Do they have the correct training and experience for that particular rig? Is the rig being used appropriately? Is it suitable to be used on a slope?


At Geotechnical Engineering we comply with PUWER with respect to our company rigs by a number of actions and decisions.  We use our experience and knowledge to select the correct rig for the task, whether Terrier, Pioneer, cut-down Pioneer, P45 or P60.  We take account of the working environment when selecting suitable work equipment by carrying out a risk assessment and assessing whether adaptations such as spark arrestors and Chalwyn valves are needed, the area needs venting, or to access if there a risk of overturning etc?  We ensure that the equipment is used for the purpose it was intended for by using well trained operatives who are supervised by drilling team managers and that the equipment is maintained in good repair and order by having a maintenance programme and regular rig inspections to ensure that faults are detected in good time and keep the daily maintenance log up to date.  We also ensure that all staff using or supervising the work equipment are provided with clear information on the equipment, including health and safety information instructions on its use and warnings, including in a rigorous training programme and a site specific drill brief.  To prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery we were the first drill company in the UK to install a physical guarding across all rotating parts with automatic cut off if breached and we take adequate measures to prevent parts or materials from falling from, or being ejected from the work equipment by regular checks, maintenance and PPE.  The risks from hot or cold temperatures are managed to prevent injury by safety alerts of how to prevent heat stroke in warm weather, and by the issue of warm PPE and the provision of welfare in cold weather.




Achilles UVDB Accreditation 2016

by Elizabeth Withington 19/02/2016 filed under General News


Geotechnical Engineering Ltd is very pleased to announce that again we have achieved accreditation through assessment for Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality practices and procedures, as a registered supplier on Achilles UVDB audit.


Achilles UVDB helps utility companies manage risk within their supply chain and comply with EU Procurement Legislation.  Geotechnical Engineering were audited under the higher level Verify B assessment which includes both a full management system audit along with an assessment of site operations.


The audit was carried out over two days. Our business management system, processes and procedures were audited on day one in our head office in Gloucester.  On day two our onsite audit covering Safety, Health, Environment and Quality was carried out this year in our yard, workshop and stores where we store and maintain our vehicles and equipment including servicing and welding procedures, and our physical testing laboratory.


Emma Lowe, Operation’s Director, is delighted to announce that our scores were 98% for our office based systems and 98% for our site based activities.  She commented that as the UKs largest independently owned ground investigation company it is very important for us to maintain an excellent UVDB accreditation score to deliver quality integrated services to the utility sector.


For further details of the work we carry out in the utility sector please visit our dedicated webpages

Where does Health and Safety Start?

by Elizabeth Withington 19/01/2016 filed under Equipment


“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort” John Ruskin


The first priority on any site is Health and Safety.  So where does Health and Safety start?  At the site gate, at the site induction, at the project planning stage or when choosing a competent contractor?  Of course, it is all of these and many other considerations.  But how would you choose a competent ground investigation contractor?  Do you choose the cheapest because “all contractors are the same”, or do you check that they comply with the appropriate rules and regulations for the industry? Complying with these rules and regulations may not be the most visible of their activities, but they are essential to provide a safe, reliable, legally compliant service to your site, so that you the Client, or you the Consultant, can receive the quality data that you require to reduce your risk.


Compliance with LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) is an essential requirement for ground investigation contractors.  The regulations place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment.  So what is a “lifting” operation?  The regulations define a lifting operation as “an operation concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load.  A “load” being the items lifted and includes people. So what is “lifting equipment”?  Lifting equipment is work equipment for lifting or lowering loads and includes lifting accessories and attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting equipment.


For a ground investigation contractor the lifting equipment includes:


The rig

The rig winch

The rig chains

The forklift truck


Similarly the lifting accessories includes:


The SPT hammer

Bow shackles

D Shackles



Winch cables

Lifting eye



All of this equipment should be subject to a “thorough examination” and clearly marked with its Safe Working Load (SWL).  The thorough examination should be carried out by a competent person at a frequency depending on the type of equipment and the purpose to which it is used.  Typically in the case of lifting equipment this is on first use and 12 month intervals, and for lifting accessories this is on first use and then every 6 months.  The clear marking of the SWL is also a requirement of the regulations, the SWL being the maximum load the equipment can safely lift. 


At Geotechnical Engineering Limited we use an external supplier, sourced through our “approved supplier” system to test all of our lifting equipment and accessories.  Certificates are produced for each individual item of equipment, and each item clearly colour coded to show that it is compliant.  Our current colour is green, this will be replaced in 6 months with another clearly identifiable colour.

How do you know that you have quality data?

by Elizabeth Withington 06/01/2016 filed under General News


“When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do”. John Ruskin


To operate as a competent and trusted ground investigation contractor there are many “behind the scenes” procedures that need to happen to provide safe and reliable equipment to site to ensure that you, the Client, or you the Consultant, receives the quality data that reduces your risk.


Amongst these many procedures is the checking and calibration of the “SPT” hammer.  The Standard Penetration Test, the SPT, is carried out in primarily cohesionless soils to determine its strength and deformation properties.  The test is carried out to EN ISO 22476-3, and involves the dropping of a 63.5kg mass hammer onto a drive head from a height of 760mm.  The number of blows (N) necessary to achieve 300mm penetration of the sampler is the penetration resistance.


When the SPT N results are to be used for foundation design or comparison of results the actual energy delivered by the hammer drive weight onto the drive rods below is required.  The value is known as the Energy Ratio (Er). Energy loss occurs in the SPT hammer due to friction on the hammer shaft or on the impact with the hammer drive, and so the Er percentage of each individual hammer is required to be tested under the standard.


The measurement of the Er transmitted to the drive rods can be made using an instrumented section of rod positioned a specific distance below the point where the hammer impacts the drive head.  This instrumented section of rod is capable of measuring the vertical acceleration and the axial deformation induced in the rod, and requires a datalogger.  From these measurements a calculation is carried out to provide the Er as a percentage.


Over the Christmas shutdown Geotechnical Engineering Ltd annually takes the opportunity to ensure that all of our equipment is safe and calibrated.  Our SPT hammers have all been checked and calibrated and are ready to be used on our many geotechnical ground investigations throughout the UK.  Digital copies of the SPT hammer certificates are readily available for our Clients if required, please contact your appointed Contract Manager or email us on .  

Keynetix Annual User Group Conference and Exhibition

by Elizabeth Withington 27/11/2015 filed under Laboratory Services


Geotechnical Engineering Ltd are pleased to be an exhibitor at this year’s Keynetix Annual User Group Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday 24 November 2015. 

The event is focused on the user.  Is that you?  Come along and found out about latest developments on geotechnical and geo-environmental software.  There will be lots of opportunity for you to voice your views on where you believe there should be further innovation in software. 

At Geotechnical Engineering we have in house capability to develop software packages to integrate into our own systems.  We can create AGS 3.1 and AGS4 if requested at all stages of projects, from drill logs, draft engineers logs, laboratory test data and final reports.  This is complimented by our drillers using KeyLogBooks onsite enabling the rapid transmission of data back to the office, and by the integration of KeyLabs in to our physical testing laboratory.

At the User Group Conference why not come along and talk to us, we would be delighted to share our experiences of geotechnical data management with you?

Keynetix Geotechnical Management Awards

by Elizabeth Withington 27/11/2015 filed under Laboratory Services


Geotechnical Engineering were delighted on winning one of this year’s Keynetix Geotechnical Management Awards. Dr Roger Chandler, MD at Keynetix commented that it was fantastic to be able to recognise GELs focus on geotechnical data management and to be able to show the industry what can be achieved if all those small steps come together in a focused direction.


IT and Technical Support Manager Wendy Jones put together the submission, explaining that GEL lab staff have historically manually inputted external client sample and schedule data into databases and used different software packages for calculating, processing and reporting results.  Taking into account that the technician had to 1: input sample data, 2: populate and calculate results and 3: input into the gINT database, data was being double or even tripled handled contract by contract!


GEL looked for a better way to do this and has implemented a program of improvement by introducing KeyLogbook and KeyLAB software as a basis for pushing data management to the forefront of the Company’s development plans.  The GEL laboratory can now import sample AGS data created using KeyLogbook or sent by clients directly into KeyLAB and without any correspondence files linking the two different software packages. Retyping sample and contract details is no longer necessary. With the scheduling tool, both time taken to and errors are greatly reduced before testing.


KeyLAB’s working platform is Excel. GEL has integrated its’ own excel technician sheets into the software (instead of just using those examples which come with the program) along with equipment calibration details. Here lies the biggest advantage. Technicianss are able to batch print their worksheets direct from KeyLAB without having to fill out contract and sample data. Good! But GREAT is the fact that those same technician sheets used for testing are used for calculating and processing. Once they complete testing and even throughout testing, when technicians populate the master sheet in KeyLAB, calculations (built in and integrating calibration information such as load ring factors) and processing are also done in one step, not two or three. No retyping results into the gINT database. As GEL have used pre-existing technician sheets, no additional training is required, staff already know how to use Excel, calculate AND now process for reporting. The reports (also created by GEL with ease in Excel and matching those created by gINT) can now be printed and AGS created directly to issue in a much faster time, no matter the size. Data can now also be merged with that of the Engineers (Created in gINT or otherwise) using the AGS data.


Despite only using the new system for small to medium contracts so far, time taken to process laboratory schedules is already greatly reduced. Turnaround times for individual schedules are reduced due to elimination of double and triple handling.


Lead in times to commencement of testing once a schedule is received is reduced by about 50% and will only increase as the size and complexity of testing on contracts increase. We estimate time taken to process results have reduced by 30-50%, saving us at least a day for small contracts and up to three for larger jobs with more advanced testing. 1-3 days off a ten day turnaround means we can complete testing faster. 


Please contact us for more information on how our experience and capability can help you.

Good News Autumn 2015

by Elizabeth Withington 10/09/2015 filed under General News


Stopford Road GI

It has been great to work with yourself & the guys from Geotechnical Engineering Ltd.

Best regards,



Can I reiterate my thanks to the guys on site. The job was well run by Dan John & Kristian Evans, the drillers Danny and Steve in particular worked really hard in pretty brutal heat, but all your guys were a pleasure to work with.



Thank you for your help and assistance throughout the project; I’m sure that we will work together again in the near future!

Kind Regards,



Thank you and the drilling crew, Andy and his mate, for the work at Highlands Farm. Very much appreciated indeed. Regards,


Boldrewood Campus

I wanted to pass on how impressed I was with Lee and Matt who undertook the window sample boreholes at Boldrewood Campus, Southampton last week.  They were professional and hard-working throughout the week making my life much easier on-site.  When most would have given up drilling through dense gravels they continued to get all the information required.

I find people are all too quick to criticise in our industry and not enough praise is given where deserved so please pass on my thanks to them.

Kind regards,



Perhaps you could pass on to Leon, we had full recovery from the borehole and I understand that he kept in contact with my colleagues etc whilst I was away so we’re really pleased, it allows us to make an informed decision when we weren’t previously able to due to the lack of info we had from the previous boreholes (drilled by a different company).

Kind regards,


Cannon Lane

On another note, I would like to express my thanks to both you and your on site engineers for your assistance to date.  It is very much appreciated.

Kind regards



Forgot to mention that our consultant (Rachel Barratt) had a good lot to say in praise of the guys who worked at the Harrow sites (she was there in the second week of the works).  The work ethic and help of your guys on site were exemplary.

I forgot to ask the first consultant in the week prior to this but assume they were equally as good!

RAIL 2015

by Elizabeth Withington 03/09/2015 filed under Rail


Geotechnical Engineering Limited are delighted to once again be exhibiting at the largest outdoor Rail Show in the UK - RAIL2015 on the 16th and 17th September 2015.


RAIL2015 brings you a different kind of exhibition. It sets out to celebrate the ingenuity of rail and offers the rail community a golden opportunity to explore common interests, aims and ambitions, 'connect' and help rekindle the pioneering spirit of rail. The exhibition will be a great forum to explore and discover new thinking, ideas, technologies and products and for also sharing and collaborating knowledge and wisdom.


Geotechnical Engineering Limited will be demonstrating the capability of our innovative and award winning P60 slope climbing rig.  Traditionally, any boreholes on slopes involved a delicate balance between cost and achievable depth, with the two options being either hand held windowless sampling or lifting at least one rig on to a scaffold platform. We knew that the hand held gave little or no valuable information and that the scaffold option was both expensive and labour intensive. This resulted in the R&D and subsequent manufacture of our P45 rig in 2006 and the P60 in 2007.



Our experienced team of lead drillers and support staff now have over 9 years of experience working with our slope climbing rigs, working safely on slopes in many sectors including rail in many different ground conditions throughout the UK.  With innovation being part of our Company ethos, we are continually improving our rig capability, and have recently taken delivery of our fourth generation P60D.


Attendance at the exhibition is free and tickets easy to obtain by simply visiting: and fill out the online form.



Using KeyLAB2 Software

by Elizabeth Withington 10/08/2015 filed under Laboratory Services


Towards the end of 2014 the Geotechnical laboratory at Geotechnical Engineering Limited (GEL) recognised the need to improve our service to Clients.  Various laboratory data management systems were investigated and Keynetix Ltd were approached to explore the logistics of using their KeyLAB2 Software.  Geotechnical Engineering starting to use KeyLAB2 in June 2015. 


KeyLAB2 has been designed to be provide a complete testing laboratory management system, incorporating sample storage details, schedules and scheduling, data processing and reporting of results through to invoicing, equipment calibration and sample disposal. All in one place. It also houses its own AGS data mapper, quickly creating data which can be used to exchange/send geotechnical information between clients, contractors, laboratories and their various software packages.


Roger Chandler, Managing Director from Keynetix Ltd and Wendy Jones Technical Support Manager from GEL worked together to integrate the existing GEL testing, technicians spreadsheets and GEL reporting templates, linking them to the KeyLAB2 parameters and mappers. 


Technicians and laboratory management staff were trained by Wendy to handle the AGS data import and export of KeyLAB2. They were also trained on the basics of using all the KeyLAB2 functions and applications in seminars and presentations designed to introduce them to the software.  The seminar used both examples and existing projects to take the staff through the completion of a project step by step using KeyLAB2. The objective was to ensure staff could competently manage a project and produce accurate reports after the very first training session. Future sessions are planned to build on the basics, developing the equipment and administration functions thereby enabling individuals to become powerusers and administrators.


Wendy Jones from GEL commented “KeyLAB2 is a powerful tool which will enable GEL to greatly increase efficiency and quality across the board in an already excellent laboratory. The benefits of using KeyLAB2 will allow us to provide an even greater level of service for our Clients”.


BS 5930:2015

by Elizabeth Withington 30/07/2015 filed under Engineering


The new British Standard BS 5930:2015 is published by BSI Standards Limited and comes into effect on 31 July 2015. This British Standard supersedes BS 5930:1999+A2:2010, which is withdrawn.


The first edition of this British Standard (published as CP2001:1957) covered basic guidance on effective ground investigation. This was replaced by full editions in 1981 and 1999, which covered the subject matter in greater detail and each of which was brought up to date at the time of publication. The 1999 edition was amended twice to incorporate changes necessary to maintain compliance with BS EN 1997-1 and BS EN 1997-2 and their related standards.


BS 5930:2015 is a full revision of the standard, and introduces the following principal changes:


• The majority of changes arise from the further implementation into UK practice of BS EN 1997-1 and BS EN 1997-2 and the related test standards cited therein and the need to conform to these standards.

• The revision of material that is now out of date. There is new information on geophysical surveying and ground testing and updated guidance on ground investigations on contaminated ground, changes to accommodate the requirements of data capture in the field and the inclusion of this in reporting as well as other amendments throughout the code.


As a code of practice, this British Standard takes the form of guidance and recommendations. It should not be quoted as if it were a specification and particular care should be taken to ensure that claims of compliance are not misleading.

Delivery of Geotechnical Engineering's New Pioneer 3

by Elizabeth Withington 20/07/2015 filed under Drilling


At Geotechnica 2015 Geotechnical Engineering Ltd (GEL) presented their most recent acquisition to the geoscience community, the Pioneer 3.  Taking delivery of the Pioneer 3, based on the Comacchio GEO305, GEL have added to their wide drilling capability which ranges from dynamic sampling Terrier rigs to the award winning P60 slope climbing rigs.


The new Pioneer 3 is able to easily drill to depths of greater than 100m using Geobor S Wireline methods.  It is capable of dynamic sampling and rotary coring with associated insitu testing including SPT’s and Class 1 sampling.  Transported to site on GEL flatbeds and supported by IVECO vans with all ancillary drilling equipment, the new rig adds to a flexible fleet of high performance rigs producing quality data. 


Since Geotechnica, GEL has taken delivery of two more Pioneer 3 rigs, also with Geobor S wireline drilling equipment. 

Winner of the prize draw at Geotechnica 2015

by Elizabeth Withington 15/07/2015 filed under General News


Visitors to the Geotechnical Engineering Limited stand at the recent Geotechnica 2015 were invited to win a beautifully preserved fossil wood segment by entering their business cards in to a prize draw.


From the overwhelming amount of people who left their details, we are pleased to announce that this year's winner was Tim Ngai of Tony Gee and Partners LLP in their Birmingham office.


National Water Hygiene Card

by Elizabeth Withington 14/07/2015 filed under Drilling


Geotechnical Engineering now have more than twenty staff who hold the National Water Hygiene Card, permitting them to work in restricted areas associated with water supply in the utility sector.


Their training has covered specific areas including:




With many years’ experience in working in these sensitive environments Geotechnical Engineering is now ready to meet the rigorous requirements of an essential public service sector.

GEL – Drilling on Slopes Since 2006

by Elizabeth Withington 29/06/2015 filed under Drilling


At Geotechnical Engineering Limited we are constantly evolving. We believe in finding better, more economical ways to carry out ground investigations through innovation. We have a wide range of plant to carry out drilling operations in a variety of locations.



Traditionally, any boreholes on slopes involved a delicate balance between cost and achievable depth, with the two options being either hand held windowless sampling or lifting at least one rig on to a scaffold platform. We knew that the hand held gave little or no valuable information and that the scaffold option was both expensive and labour intensive. This resulted in the R&D and subsequent manufacture of our P45 rig in 2006.


The P45 is modelled on a standard tracked windowless sampling rig and is capable of drilling soils to around 12m depending on ground conditions.  It can take SPTs/CPTs and UT100 samples as well as the added benefit of testing to DPH and DHSH(B) standards. Using casing of up to 128mm diameter, the rig can take dynamic samples of up to 98mm and install instrumentation up to 70mm OD.


Given what we had achieved with the P45, we wanted more and so we designed the P60 in 2007.  Modelled on our extensive fleet of Pioneer rigs, the award winning P60 slope climbing rigs are dual purpose and can dynamically sample soils, as well as coring and open holing through rock. The result is one rig to carry out both techniques. 


The P60 can take SPTs/CPTs as well as UT100 samples and, with the Mule assistance vehicle alongside, can safely carry water, ancillary tooling and equipment to each hole reducing the need for manual handling. The rig can case in P or H, can take liner samples up to 146mm diameter and core samples of 92mm diameter respectively and can install instrumentation of up to 100mm OD. Samples can be taken up to 1.50m in length, and with the larger diameter samples Class 1 subsamples can be provided.


Our experienced team of lead drillers and support staff now have over 9 years of experience working with our slope climbing rigs, working safely on slopes in many sectors including road, rail and utilities.  We also continue to work in many different ground conditions throughout the UK.  With innovation being part of our Company ethos, we are continually improving our rig capability, and have recently taken delivery of our fourth generation P60D.  

Soil and Rock Descriptions

by Elizabeth Withington 25/06/2015 filed under Engineering


Geotechnical Engineering Limited trains its graduate engineering geologists to log soils and rocks by using a process of formal instruction alongside onsite mentoring.  We have personnel dedicated to training our geologists from Directors with technical responsibilities, Chartered Engineers with checking responsibilities, and a Senior Engineering Geologist in a dedicated training manager role.  By using dedicated staff we can ensure that the skills individuals need are identified and enacted through a formal training plan.



The formal training takes place via training manuals which are presented in a classroom setting.  We then take the graduate into our dedicated soil and rock logging facilities and introduce them to the practical aspects of logging. 


Our training manager Edward Crimp has recently been introducing some of our graduates to chalk logging.  For chalk logging our SARD manual (Soil and Rock Descriptions) is used in conjunction with additional referenced publications from CIRIA C574, Lord et al (2002) Engineering in Chalk, and BS5930: 1999+A2 Code of practice for Site investigations.  For ease of reference in the field the pertinent tables have been summarised in to a single field sheet and include chalk density, description, fracture aperture, fracture spacing, chalk grade and the description of structureless chalk.


The geologists are then introduced to samples of chalk in our logging facility.  Samples from light cable percussion, dynamic sampling and rotary cored boreholes are used.  The practical aspect of chalk logging then starts alongside the expert help of our training manager.


Once Geotechnical Engineers training manager is satisfied that the individual is competent in a particular activity this is recorded in their training plan at a “competent to carry out grade”.  Their competency is then reassessed at regular intervals until they reached a standard where they are considered to be “competent to teach others” for that particular activity. 

Does the Geotechnical Industry have a Problem?

by Elizabeth Withington 22/06/2015 filed under Careers


Geotechnical Engineering Ltd recognises the value in encouraging students to choose geology and engineering geology as a profession.  Therefore, throughout the year we visit a number of educational establishments including schools, universities and the Geological Society Careers Day, talking to the students about careers related to geology. 


At schools level it is apparent that firstly there is a distinct lack of geology being taught at A level, that there is a lack of awareness of geology as a career, and in particular few students understand that there are opportunities in the geotechnical industry. 


Once we have students interested in studying geology at university a number of other factors then happen.  They are unaware of the variety of geology based courses available, with many having little knowledge of the UCAS resource where you can type in “geology” and every geological based course in the UK is listed.  Students are then reluctant to visit the universities on open days, and prefer to stay geographically close to home.  In particular students in the south west consider universities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham as too far north.


There is also a distinct lack of awareness of civil engineering as a growth industry in the UK.  Major projects such as HS2, renewables and flood protection are not recognised by the students and so the concept of what skills are required is missed.


We therefore challenge the geotechnical sector to educate our students, to inspire them to study geology at university, and provide a future for the industry.

P60 Slope Rig – Quality data from two very different sites

by Elizabeth Withington 26/05/2015 filed under Drilling


Geotechnical Engineering’s Slope Climbing Rigs were busy again last week, in very different locations, geology and ground conditions. 


P60C was located in a grazing field in West Yorkshire, carrying out a GI for the remediation of a boundary wall.  The ground surface was good for our standard tracks and minimal ground disturbance occurred from the tracking of the rig on the site.  The geology on the site comprised Upper Kinderscout Grit, a sandstone from the Carboniferous Period.  These rocks were formed from ancient rivers depositing sand and gravel materials in channels to form river terrace deposits.  From a ground investigation perspective these rocks form a hard abrasive fractured formation that loses flush quickly.  By using Geotechnical Engineering’s P60 rig quality rock data was able to be obtained from the slope. 


P60D was situated on a civil engineering site in Wiltshire, carrying out a GI for the construction of new holiday lodges.  Here the ground surface was loose and disturbed due to vegetation clearance and construction activity.  To mitigate against any possible movement on this type of surface ground anchors were installed into stable material.  The solid geology for this site comprises a variable sequence of Jurassic and Cretaceous deposits including the Jurrassic Newton Clay Member, a mudstone; the Sandsfoot Formation, a sandy oolitic limestone; the oolitic Clavellata Beds, and the Cretaceous Gault Clay and Upper Greensand Formations. The boreholes actually encountered Made Ground and Upper Greensand.  By using Geotechnical Engineering’s P60 rig only one mobilisation of one type of rig was required.  The boreholes were then able to reach the specified depth in the potentially varied geology, to produce quality slope data.  



Geotechnical Engineerings Short Masted Pioneer Rig

by Elizabeth Withington 22/05/2015 filed under Innovation


Geotechnical Engineering’s Short Masted Pioneer rig has recently returned back to the depot in Gloucester after working for a number of weeks in a basement in central Birmingham. 


The drilling operations comprised 150m of rotary coring into the Bromsgrove Sandstone Formation of the Triassic Period.  The Bromsgrove Sandstone is a weak sandstone where the individual quartz sand grains are “locked” in place by confining pressures rather than cemented by post-depositional events.  To produce quality cores and therefore quality ground investigation data, the sandstone needs to cored using experienced operatives and using an approved drilling additive.


The Short Mast Pioneer has a maximum working height of 2.56m, and can access sites with a headroom down to 2.10m and an access width of 0.750m. In confined spaces the rig operates using an active ventilation system, removing exhaust gases away from the working areas into a safe place.


Geotechnical Engineering Ltd are currently carrying out R & D to add the capability of carrying out standard penetration testing in a similar restricted headroom.  

GEOLOGICA BRITANNICA - Photographic Competition

by Elizabeth Withington 13/05/2015 filed under General News


2015 is the bicentenary of William Smith’s famous geological map: ‘A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales’. The Geological Society of London is also marking 2015 as the Year of Mud. It would be remiss to let these pass unnoticed, therefore on the 27th April the West Midlands, North West and Southern Wales Regional Groups and the Black Country Geological Society launched a joint group Photographic Competition celebrating the William Smith Map Bicentenary (1815 - 2015). 

The theme of the competition is:



The competition is being sponsored by Geotechnical Engineering Limited and was presented to the West Midlands Geological Society at the May meeting.  Geotechnical Engineering feel privileged to be able to support the society in such an iconic year.

For more details of how to enter the completion please visit the website:



Good News Spring 2015

by Elizabeth Withington 07/05/2015 filed under General News


Geotechnical Engineering has been enjoying the warmer weather and we are busy throughout the UK.  Here’s some of the praise gathered from satisfied clients over the past few weeks.

“Again I’ve been very impressed with all aspects from GEL on this project: the GPR service, vac ex team and drillers.  The vac ex crew dealt with the site conditions responsibly and the drilling team were motivated and very professional in reacting to the site restrictions.  I received constant good core recovery and the drillers maintained a constant clean and tidy work area during the works.  The project completed all my objectives within the time scale agreed with my client.” 

“I just wanted to thank Geotechnical for your sterling work at our Banwell site last week. Ashley and the team performed really well and were a pleasure to work with.” 

“Thanks for the input from your site team this week - they have met the challenge presented and approached it in a professional and helpful manner. We have more work 'in the pipeline'.”

 “Just a quick email to say that during the works mentioned above we were very impressed with the attitude that the guys had towards health and safety.

It was noted that the quality of discussion and engagement of the crews was excellent. Crews were willing to aid discussions with their own health and safety experiences. It was clear that everyone present was engaging and listening. The Crews were also forthcoming with personal safety commitments to aid towards site safety.
If you could please pass this onto the guys themselves I would appreciate it.”



A Warm Welcome to our new Engineering Geologists

by Elizabeth Withington 01/05/2015 filed under Careers


It has been a busy few weeks in the engineering section of Geotechnical Engineering where we have welcomed several new members of staff.  We were delighted to welcome back Senior Engineer Perran Spears after five years working in Australia, along with Engineering Geologist Sara Reeve who has a background in exploration geology and three new engineering geology graduates Andrew Tatnell, William Riggs and Imogen Soley.  Geotechnical Engineering are now in a strong position to meet the challenges of the growing market demands. 


Two New British Standards

by Elizabeth Withington 21/04/2015 filed under Laboratory Services


Two new British Standards (Eurocodes) have been published for laboratory testing of soil.  These relate to water content and bulk density and supersede the respective BS 1377 publications:



The new procedures have now been fully adopted by Geotechnical Engineering’s geotechnical laboratory.  BS 1377 moisture content and bulk density tests should no longer be scheduled although other tests still carried out in accordance with BS 1377 which specifically require a BS 1377 moisture content and/or bulk density (triaxials for example) will still be undertaken with BS 1377 methodology.


The new BS EN ISO water content and bulk density columns have been added to Geotechnical Engineering’s blank laboratory schedule along with caveats to the schedule and guide.  This pro forma should always be supplied for clients and consultants to schedule on.