Hexapod moves to SoFSI

The final major piece of equipment has now arrived at SoFSI, with our six degree of freedom shaking table making the move from Queen’s Building to its permanent home in Langford. With decommissioning in Queen’s Building starting in mid-August, the Hexapod was moved and recommissioned at SoFSI by mid-September. The higher pressure and flow rate of the hydraulic system here allows the Hexapod to reach its full triaxial performance of 8g with a 500kg payload. Since moving, it has already successfully been put to use for seismic qualification work.

Small yellow shaking table with blue hydraulic actuators and base plate in position.

Shaking table commissioned

In December the large biaxial shaking table underwent commissioning testing. This involved operating the table for the first time and checking all safety and performance functions, followed by validating its performance against the original specification. It was great to see it in motion and we’re looking forward to the training and using it in anger later this year.

Crane installed

Today the 30t gantry crane was commissioned. This will enable both the filling and emptying of the test pit, and the lifting of test items off the two shaking tables within SoFSI. In addition to this further milestones were achieved this week with the switching on of the high-voltage electricity supply to the laboratory, the laying of the resin floor finish within the test hall and the commencement of the slab within the service yard.

Site progress update – building shell watertight

Prior to the Christmas break the SoFSI building envelope was completed and the building was watertight. With scaffolding both inside and outside the building it was a great chance to appreciate the full scale of the facility by being able to climb above the height of the 30t gantry crane – a view which will not be available once the facility is open. Now the building shell is complete we are looking forward to the final fit out followed by the installation of the hydaulic equipment – the pit in the centre of the above photograph is to receive our 50t capacity, 6m x 4m biaxial shaking table.


Site progress update

Much progress on the construction of SoFSI has been made in the last month following a sustained period of good weather. The steel frame for both the test hall and the accommodation block are now complete and the main contractor, Andrew Scott Ltd, are now preparing for the final interior concrete pours to form the remaining floor slab in both parts of the building.

With the roof near completion on the accommodation block it provided a great viewpoint to see the scale of both the soil pit and the pit for the large shaking table.

Following completion of the floor slabs the next steps are to install the gantry crane, complete the roof of the test hall and start the blockwork walls to the test hall. If all goes to programme the building should be water tight before the end of the year.

Steel erection commences

Following completion of the strong floor and reaction mass (in excess of 2000tonnes of steel and concrete), the main contractors have commenced the erection of the steel frame for the building. This phase is expected to take approximately 3 weeks and following this construction of the building envelope will commence. The scale of the building is now apparent, with the ridgeline being approximately 13m above the finish floor level giving an 8m clearance for the gantry crane inside the building.

UKCRIC Webinar

On Tuesday 23 June we hosted the first UKCRIC Webinar to promote the national UKCRIC programme and also the two UKCRIC projects at the University of Bristol – SoFSI and the Bristol Infrastructure Collaboratory. We were pleased to welcome William Powrie, the UKCRIC Convenor, to set out the basis of UKCRIC and the exciting opportunities it presents for being at the vanguard of national infrastructure research. Over 50 people took part in the live webinar and a recording of the event is available here.


SoFSI Site Visit

Following the commencement of construction of SoFSI in late February 2020, the first on site visit was organised on Monday 22 June. Estates Team Manager Luke Everett, Prof. Tasos Sextos, Head of Earthquake and Geotechnical Engineering Research Group (Lead User) and UKCRIC/Bristol Research Manager Patrick Tully safely visited to review recent developments. The main contractor, Andrew Scott Ltd, have adopted safe systems of working to enable construction to continue during the recent period and good progress has been made on construction of the soil pit and reaction mass for the two shaking tables with over two thirds of the concrete pour completed.

We are looking forward to the completion of the reaction mass and main foundations for the building in August – a big milestone for the project. The project is on track for opening in spring 2021.