Latest News

Drilling on Slopes Since 2006

29 June 2015 at 12:18

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.  

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Training in Soil and Rock Description

25 June 2015 at 14:24

Geotechnical Engineering Limited trains its graduate engineering geologists to log soils and rocks by using a process of formal teaching alongside onsite mentoring.  We have professional staff dedicated to carry out the training, from Directors with technical responsibilities, Chartered Engineers with checking responsibilities, and a Senior Engineering Geologist in a dedicated trainer manager role. By using these staff we can ensure the skills that the individual needs are identified and enacted through a formal training procedure. 

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

Our training manager, Edward Crimp, has recently been introducing some of our graduates to chalk logging.  To do this they use our SARD manual (Soil and Rock Descriptions) 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. 

The geologists are then introduced to samples of chalk in our logging facility.  Demonstration samples from light cable percussion, dynamic sampling and rotary cored boreholes are used.  The practical aspects of chalk logging then starts alongside the expert help of our training manager.  For ease of reference in the logging area and in the field, the pertinent tables from the referenced publications have been summarised in to a single field sheet which includes chalk density, description, fracture spacing, chalk grade and description of structureless chalk.

Once Geotechnical Engineering’s 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 have reached a standard at which they are considered to be “competent to teach others” for that particular activity.

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Does the Geotechnical Industry have a Problem?

22 June 2015 at 14:26

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.

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Geotechnica 2015

19 June 2015 at 16:41

The Geotechnica 2015 conference and exhibition provides a unique opportunity for the geotechnical industry, its clients and the supply chain, to discuss how best to meet the challenges of the UK construction’s growing order book

Whether it is to attend the always excellently received geotechnical conference featuring speakers from high profile clients such as HS2 Ltd and Network Rail; discover the latest product developments and innovations; meet prospective clients, contractors and suppliers, or to catch up with friends new and old – Geotechnica offers something for everyone.

Geotechnica 2015 will be held on 8th and 9th July at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, Royal Leamington Spa. To register for your free place and for more information, visit and follow the event on Twitter @GeoEngUK and @equipegroup.


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Vacuum Excavation Capability

18 June 2015 at 14:34

As part of Geotechnical Engineering’s integrated service capability we have two vacuum excavation units ready to safely clear ground investigation locations on site.

Vacuum excavation is an intrinsically safe method of avoiding dangerous and expensive utility strikes.  In line with HSG47 industry best practice, the method eliminates the threat from buried services, whether it be checking for known services or for excavation at borehole positions prior to drilling. 

Depending on the ground conditions the excavation methods are either by hydro techniques or by pneumatic methods.  

The hydro vacuum technique uses a high pressure water jet delivered by a cyclonic “nozzle”.  It can be used in all soil types including cohesive soils.  The slurry waste is removed into the on board storage tank by suction methods and then safely disposed of. 

The pneumatic method injects air into the ground, loosening the materials, which are then removed by suction methods.  The technique produces dry spoil which can easily be replaced into the ground.  This method suits non-cohesive soils. 

Our fully trained and competent crews are highly experienced in working in many sensitive sectors including National Grid, Highways, Rail and Petrol Forecourts.  The crews hold the appropriate competence training for working in these sectors including CSCS, SPA, National Grid BESC, National Gris Competent Person and NRSWA Streetworks Qualifications. 

For details of the availability of our vacuum excavation team or our integrated services capability please contact our commercial team .

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Continuous Ground Gas Monitoring

11 June 2015 at 10:41

As an integral part of an ongoing investigation the Consulting Engineer had specified for Geotechnical Engineering Limited to use continuous ground gas monitoring technology to carry out insitu gas monitoring on a site in South Gloucestershire.

To comply with BS8576, Guidance on Investigations for Ground Gas, and CIRIA C665, Assessing Risks Posed by hazardous Gases, continuous ground gas monitoring is increasingly used to risk assess and design cost effective protection for existing and new development.

Geotechnical Engineering Limited selected GasClam technology as the most effective method to provide quality data for the project.  They can be used to measure methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature, barometric and borehole pressure continuously for up to three months. 

Traditional methods of gas data collection uses portable gas detection instruments to periodically monitor boreholes.  This has the disadvantage of only recording the gas data at a particular time and may miss significant occurrence affecting gas concentrations such as a drop in barometric pressure.  There is also the disadvantage of monitoring technician having to frequently visit site to collect data. 

Contract Manager and Senior Geoenvironmental Engineer Nick Kay tasked himself to install the GasClams and gather the data.  The gas monitoring data is downloaded using a standard issue laptop into an excel file format allowing easy transfer to the Consulting Engineer for data manipulation and risk assessment for design.

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Corporate Social Responsibility

05 June 2015 at 15:26

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) can be described as “actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by law”. At Geotechnical Engineering we recognise the demand for young professionals to enter into the Civil Engineering industry and as a result we’re keen to assist in any way we can to educate and encourage the professionals of tomorrow to consider this industry as an option for them.

The latter part of this week saw Trish Jasper dedicating her mornings to give guided tours around our premises here in Gloucester to Year 10 student from St Peters School. 

Aside from attempting to inspire the potential Geotechnical Engineers or Drillers amongst each group, Trish was able to offer valuable advice to the students of things to be aware of when considering a first job.

We hope that each student was able to take away something new from this experience, be it a newfound awareness of what we do, equipment we use or even just a small nugget of guidance that they can bear in mind when making their all-important future career choices. 

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Why we believe that training and development is vital

02 June 2015 at 08:30

At Geotechnical Engineering we believe that training and development is an essential part of the business. As Richard Branson says “There is always something new to learn. The day you stop learning is the day you stop living. We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints and ways of working every day”.

We believe that by training and developing our staff we will achieve five core aims:

  • To improve employees’ skills; whether to train our staff to carry out particular tasks, to increase productivity, to innovate or to increase our ability to incorporate new technologies.
  • To establish a culture where everyone carries out their work in a consistent way, whether that’s in a safer way, a more technically excellent way or a more efficient way.
  • To increase job satisfaction, with increased motivation and morale, thereby reducing mistakes and stress in the workplace.
  • To increase staff retention.  A company that focuses on a great training culture will retain focused, driven and ambitious staff.
  • To recruit talented new staff.  A company that is known to train its employees will attract enthusiastic and talented individuals.

All our staff are given the necessary training to develop the knowledge, skills and attitude that they require to carry out their jobs safely and effectively. We also offer every opportunity to new and mid-career staff to develop their professional careers.

For the Client or Geotechnical Consultant engaging geotechnical services, the advantage of using a contractor that has trained, motivated staff provides confidence in achieving significant reductions in geotechnical risks and costs.  Trained and motivated staff will work efficiently, require less supervision, produce quality data, and can adapt and innovate, which will ultimately save the Client costs.  





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P60 Slope Rig – Quality data from two very different sites

26 May 2015 at 16:31

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.  

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Geotechnical Engineerings Short Masted Pioneer Rig

22 May 2015 at 08:56

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.  

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