Overview of the ATC Williams Materials Characterisation (Laboratory) Testing and Services

Overview of the ATC Williams Materials Characterisation (Laboratory) Testing and Services

ATC Williams consultants have the unique opportunity to work alongside a dedicated laboratory founded with the company close to 40 years ago. In March, the ATC Williams laboratory also celebrates 30 years of NATA accreditation.

Based in Melbourne, experienced geotechnicians at the laboratory provide standard and specialty laboratory tests and services. The range of tests and services on offer by the laboratory complements the specialised services offered by ATC Williams consultants, along with technical support to engineers onsite.

The laboratory geotechnicians are directly supported by numerous experienced engineers with PhD degrees, each focusing on the specialty tests or services outlined below.

The ATC Williams laboratory is the focal point of the materials characterisation service area, which allows for:

  • Reliable interpretation of data
  • Trust in the test results
  • A well-founded understanding of how the data were obtained

Laboratory History

The laboratory began in 1981 in a small room adjoining the engineering consultancy offices.

Unique, tailings specific in-house testing offered by the laboratory from the beginning of operations has allowed ATC Williams to become a recognised leader in tailings consultancy. The standard geotechnical testing provided by the lab eliminated the need to outsource testing. Consultants and clients could receive accurate results with minimal turnaround.

From these humble beginnings, the ATC Williams laboratory has since expanded to house a dedicated team close to the Melbourne Head Office.

Laboratory Testing and Services

The laboratory offers ATC Williams consultants and external clients a wide range of multi-disciplinary testing and services.

Standard geotechnical testing, (such as Particle Size Distribution and Particle Density, etc.), Rowe Cell Consolidation, Soil Moisture Retention (suction), Pinhole, Direct Shear, and Triaxial. Other specialised tests provided include Slurry Segregation Threshold, Rheology, Pipeloop, and Pipeline Blockage and Re-suspendablity tests.

ATC Williams also provides the following services:

  • Soils and Tailings Characterisation
    The laboratory offers a range of geotechnical tests to determine the behaviour of tailings and soils under one-dimensional consolidation, direct shear, and triaxial shear. The laboratory is equipped to carry out complex monotonic and cyclic triaxial testing required to determine and calibrate critical state parameters and other constitutive model parameters used in numerical modelling of liquefaction and deformations of geotechnical structures under various loading conditions (i.e. employing FLAC). A range of constitutive models are used by ATC Williams for this purpose, including CAMCLAY, Strain Hardening/Softening, UBCSAND, NORSAND etc.
Dynamic and Monotonic Triaxial Testing Apparatus
  • Rheology and slurry flow behaviour
    To assist with predicting tailings beach slopes and the design of slurry transport systems, ATC Williams laboratory is equipped to perform Bob and Cup rotary rheometry. This test measures the rheological properties of slurries. The parameters are used as inputs to an in-house developed model to accurately predict the expected tailings beach slope without the need for large-scale trials. This information is used to optimise the design of slurry transport systems and tailings storage facilities for mines to reduce project expenditure.
  • Pipeloop and pipeline blockage
    ATC Williams consultants regularly undertake works comprised of a combination of civil, geotechnical, and mechanical works. Therefore, the laboratory has invested in a Pipeloop facility and Pipe Blockage apparatus to further our understanding of the slurry flow characteristics and their influence on the design of tailings transport systems. The pipe loop facility provides insight into the flow characteristics of non-Newtonian fluids and solids particles settling behaviour. The Pipe Blockage and re-suspendability test apparatus gives an estimate of the duration that a slurry pipeline can be left full of tailings without flushing and if the pumping system can provide the required pressure to flush and unblock the pipes after prolonged shutdowns.
Pipeloop and Pipe Blockage and Re-suspendability Apparatus
  • Ore transport testing
    Due to several bulk carriers having persistent issues with the potential liquefaction of iron ore fines, the laboratory’s capabilities expanded in 2011 to include the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) testing. Alongside the assisted early development of the Modified Proctor/Fagerberg TML test, ATCW’s laboratory routinely provides external consultants with the TML for various ores, using various methods, before being exported on bulk carriers.
  • Site investigations and fieldwork testing
    The laboratory provides ATC Williams in-house design engineers with the necessary work procedures, equipment, and support during fieldwork operations to ensure the works are completed to the highest standards. The laboratory also owns and maintains a number of field testing equipment including Shear Vane, Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DCP), PANDA DCP, Cone Penetration Test with measurement of pore pressure (CPTu), Rock Point Load Tester, and Nuclear Density Gauge.

Please reach out to the ATC Williams laboratory on (03) 9590 9222 or melbourne@atcwilliams.com.au to discuss how we can assist you with your testing requirements.

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