Civil Engineering Labs

Materials and structural testing laboratories.

Civil engineers create the infrastructure of our world. To do so safely they need to know that the materials they specify will be up to the task.

Over the past 50 years the academic research and commercial testing carried out by our team at Salford has enabled Network Rail to understand whether structural interventions are required on the Victorian railway arches in its estate. It’s helped in the development of an innovative blast screen to protect offshore gas platform workers. And it has improved working at height safety by contributing to a change in the design rules and testing of scaffolding clips.

We’ve also helped many manufacturers and organisations to develop, evolve and test their products to meet changes and updates in building regulations. And we’ve acted as expert witnesses and provided product testing in support of legal cases.

Of course, the laboratories play a key role in training our students, providing them with the opportunity to learn practical skills and explore solutions to commercial problems.

Heavy civils test laboratory equipment

Servo hydraulic actuators

Capable of exerting up to 1000 kN in tension and compression controlled by either MTS five channels or Cat3 six channels Zwick software. Our 10m2 strong floor provides the base to react against.

Strong floor

The 10m² strong floor has 80 anchor points each with a SWL of 500kN to secure test samples and loading rigs. This provides us with a great deal of flexibility in how we arrange the testing of your sample.

ZwickRoell tensile and compression testing machines

Three machines featuring load ranges of 0 to 2.5 kN, 0 to 50 kN and 0 to 600 kN. Each machine features accurate control using extensometers to measure strain.

Losenhausenwerk tensile and compression testing machine

With a load range of 0 to 1000 kN. this machine is also capable of cyclic loading allowing the application of repeated or fluctuating stresses, strains, or stress intensities to the test material.

Concrete testing machines

One of the most commonly used materials in the construction industry, there are many variables that define the quality of concrete. Our machines can test concrete cubes, cylinders and blocks with loads up to 2800 kN. 

Uniformly distributed load testing

We can produce large area uniformly distributed loads using air bags. This method works particularly well to simulate wind, suction and snow loads when testing composite panels, glazing and cladding systems.

Test frame

Built to BS 5234, this frame allows us to test partition systems and other walling products while being versatile enough for use in a variety of other consultancy and research projects.

HBM, Dewesoft and Physical Acoustics data loggers

These allow us to log over 150 active channels of information from the testing machines and export the findings quickly and easily into a usable file.

Various instrumentation

We have an array of instruments to measure load, strain, temperature, displacement, angle, acceleration and emission. With over 200 Linear Variable Displacement Transducers ranging from 0 to .25 mm range to 0 to 300mm we can easily measure all displacements required by your test with longer distances covered by wire pull units.

Preparatory works area

Extensive facilities to rapidly prepare test rigs and samples for bespoke tests. We have turning, milling, drilling, sawing and welding facilities for metal fabrication. Timber can be planed, cross cut, ripped, routed and spindle moulded.


A wide range of ancillary equipment from taps through to diamond drills for cutting concrete.

Concrete mixers

Used to prep small batches of concrete for testing with larger batches delivered by external suppliers.

Lifting equipment 

Our five tonne crane and 1.8 tonne forklift truck allow us to easily relocate materials and test equipment.

Tension control bolt gun

Required when testing tension control bolts used in the steel and construction industry.

Climatic cabinet

Expose your test material to temperatures ranging from -40 to + 190 with humidity control in the 0 to 100 c range.

Additional laboratories

Equipment used solely for undergraduate teaching

  • Teaching laboratory - featuring compression testing of forces up to 50 kN (five ton) this lab uses state of the art machinery by Zwick to teach students about the behaviour of materials and structures under various loads.
  • Water resource laboratory - used to measure water flow, this lab allows students to learn how water flows and behaves at different velocities.
  • Surveying laboratory - featuring state of the art, digital total stations this lab allows students to learn how to use industry standard tools and methods for surveying.
  • Soils laboratory - used to help students learn about soil type and how the volume of water in it affects the ground conditions that a building may be placed upon.