Putting soil and construction materials to the test isn’t just a good idea, it’s a best practice that gives builders the information needed to ensure the foundational integrity of their projects. You have options when it comes to geotechnical laboratories and it’s important to choose wisely.

In a competitive construction world where data unlocks vision and time is always money, teaming up with the right lab should be a strategic endeavor and not just a checkbox. Here are a few things to look for in a partner.

Fully Equipped and Well Prepared

The main goal of geotech lab testing is to help get your project up and out of the ground successfully. You want to feel certain that your project is off to a strong and safe start, and that begins with examining the soil. A good lab will deliver the precise analysis you need to understand exactly what you’re working with so you can make the right foundation choices and other design decisions to match conditions and budget.

Testing can be a discovery mission, a validation mission, or both. Sometimes soil can be a mystery until a lab breaks it down and spells it out. Other times a project designer may already have a strong instinct about the soil and look to a lab for confirmation. Either way, test results should shed light on conditions and inform planning. Samples must be carefully collected, organized for testing, and then painstakingly analyzed to deliver the confidence builders need to pursue a project’s potential.

Bulk sample sorting at the Alpha-Omega Geotech Testing Laboratory.

Bulk sample sorting at the Alpha-Omega Geotech Testing Laboratory.

Soil testing can be as straightforward as measuring things like moisture, compaction, and maximum dry density or as complicated as calculating the shear strength of soil slopes on dams and other structures. A good lab team will be ready to field just about any challenge thrown their way and jump right into the intricacies involved in a wide variety of testing methods. Simple or complex, geotechnical testing will pinpoint the capabilities and limits of the ground a structure will be built upon.

Complementing Field Services

A good lab will also be ready to stick with a project for ongoing soil testing as conditions change, and take on testing of construction materials too. Scientists should feel completely comfortable analyzing materials like concrete and asphalt to ensure they meet project needs as key construction ingredients. Special inspections fueled by the right materials tests are the only way to know for sure that a project is fundamentally sound and will live up to expectations.

Advanced testing facilities such as our lab at Alpha-Omega Geotech are very well-equipped including select technology for specializations. Lab equipment isn’t extremely high-tech but a robust collection should involve a range of technologies to tackle construction projects in their many forms. For example, energy utilities tend to favor labs experienced in measuring ground resistivity because it’s essential for the construction of substations and other projects involving massive electrical components.

Efficiency Without Compromising Quality

The single most important deliverable of a geotechnical laboratory is accurate test results — period. Only accurate numbers will give designers clarity they can count on. There is no room for error or even the risk of error. Results should put a fine point on insights that empower project leaders to do better work and take fewer chances.

Advanced testing calculations can shine a light on surprises and curveballs in all kinds of scenarios. Ground thought to be sufficiently solid turns out soft under scientific scrutiny more than you might think. Crucial soil inconsistencies and variations are also routinely uncovered. Only accurate test results from a trusted lab can prove the need for design adjustments or replacement soil and all of the associated costs.

Good service can be almost as valuable as accuracy. You’ll want a lab partner who understands and respects construction timelines and related pressures. While testing can take a day, a week, or several weeks, depending on what’s involved, you should feel confident that your lab partner is working as fast as possible to keep the project moving. A lab team should be naturals at dealing with pressure, and experts at juggling phone calls and emails to keep you posted on testing requests and testing progress.

Alpha-Omega Geotech Lab Manager Tom Burdick makes a priority of client service.

Alpha-Omega Geotech Lab Manager Tom Burdick makes a priority of client service.

The Right Experience Tips the Scales

What do you know about soil in Kansas City? Probably at least enough to know it’s not the same as soil in other parts of the country. There’s a lot of clay in our area and rock in various forms too, but what you find beneath the surface and how you deal with it really depends on exactly where you drill. Your best bet is sticking with a geotech firm that has extensive experience specifically in Kansas City and knows local soil well enough to forecast findings before testing even begins.

A lab rich in skills sharpened by a long resume of local projects will give you the best guidance. AOG has spent decades sifting through Kansas City soil and that often allows us to jump-start projects with gut instincts that anticipate what builders are up against long before testing confirms it. It’s also not uncommon for us to recommend additional testing to reveal valuable opportunities that further earn the trust of project partners.

Ultimately, testing service revolves around collaboration. Scientists who work well with their own internal teams and external project partners will meet testing needs and shape them perfectly to project processes and priorities. They’ll take ownership of their role and never lose sight of how it connects to collective goals.

Seasoned expertise, deep local experience, and a shared commitment to fast, quality work add up to material proof that you’ve chosen the right lab partner. Testing can either be just one more thing on a project manager’s to-do list or a valuable asset with benefits stretching all the way to bottom lines. It all depends on your priorities and your commitment to great work.

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