Home Sample browser Material Browser Supplier Browser Job Browser Dataset Structure Blacktop Analysis Module Aggregate Blender Cusum Control Module Mix Design Module Inspection Module


System purpose

To facilitate testing, reporting and analysis of graded Soil, Drystone aggregate and Blacktop materials in construction material testing laboratories.

To aid in the quality control of the materials under test.

Computer environment required

Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8.1. Vista or later is recommended.

As recommended for the operating system in use

Colour display

Windows Desktop resolution of 1024 * 768 minimum

Monitor size (minimum) 17 inch CRT, 15 inch LCD

A colour printer is recommended but not essential.

Memory as recommended for the operating system in use

Disk space 6Mb for the system plus that required for data @ approximately 1200 samples per Mb

Installation of Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook (or Outlook Express) is recommended but not essential.

System operation

While representing a complex and powerful tool for the engineer the Gradlab system is easily accepted and used by junior, or formerly non-computer literate personnel. On-line tip based help is provided and this makes extensive training or constant reference to written manuals unnecessary. 

System structure

The Gradlab Gds system consists of four main databases and a suite of programs to manipulate them. The databases represent Samples, Material specifications, material Suppliers, and Jobs (i.e. material destinations). As Sample records are entered into the Sample database they are linked to records previously entered into the other three, this structure allows Sample test results to be separated and analysed based upon any combination of Material specification, Supplier or Job the user selects. The system is able to meet the needs of users in quarry, site and central laboratory environments. DataSet Structure. Multiple datasets are supported. The system supports zipped backup, unzipped duplication and email of datasets.

Material specification input and storage

Individual specifications for each material are entered into the Gradlab material database using the Material browser prior to entry of sample data representing them. Specification types for soil, drystone aggregate, and bituminous paving materials are supported. Materials can be specified/ tested on up to 18 sieves. The Material browser also facilitates modification of existing material records and calculation of statistics relating to their source, destination and sample compliance. Assignment of materials to Q Value Groups and subsequent analysis is supported. OCL statistical analysis to BS EN 13108-21 is supported. CE, Type Testing and Declaration of Performance certificates can be produced.

Supplier information input and storage

Information regarding each source of materials is entered into the Gradlab supplier database using the Supplier browser before input of related sample data. In addition to name and aggregate type, supplier records accommodate storage of supplier postal address and characteristic test results. The Supplier browser also facilitates modification of existing supplier records and calculation of statistics relating to Materials supplied, Jobs supplied and sample compliance.

Job information input and storage

Data for each job from which materials are being sampled are entered into the Gradlab job database via the Job browser prior to input of related sample records. Job records store the job postal address/ phone number and account number. The Job browser also facilitates preparation of statistics for the Materials supplied, Suppliers used and related sample compliance.

Sample record input, storage and calculation

Sample records store data for sieve analysis tests, other result data e.g. temperature, binder content, and flakiness can be included. Details for samples may be entered into the Sample browser on their receipt to the laboratory and custom laboratory test forms produced for them. Information can be entered onto the system as pre-calculated results or as laboratory source data, in the latter case results are calculated from the source data when sample records are retrieved. The user is alerted if sample start weights or sieve loads are outside predetermined limits. Drystone aggregate samples may be entered using dry or wash grading methods. Blacktop (Bituminous or Tar based) material samples may be entered using binder by difference (pressure filter), aliquot (binder direct) and loss by ignition test methods. Computation of aliquots, solvent weights and riffle factors is supported. The calculations performed and corrections applied to calculate sample results are determined by the test method employed and the material specification type represented. Sample results are categorised using the Mercia QA scheme for coated materials which coincides with that currently specified by The National Third Party QA scheme for The Production of Asphalt Mixes.

Sample reporting

Result data for completed sample records can be reported in a variety of text and graphical formats. Individual samples can be displayed, printed out and emailed as;

 Sample reports including, laboratory source data, computed results, and compliance status with regard to all tested parameters. Report examples.
 Particle size distribution graphs, showing sample gradation and binder content (if applicable), with regard to specified envelopes.

Sample records can also be selected for inclusion in statistical and trend analysis reports including;

Trend sheet tables for printout or export into third party spreadsheet or database software.
 Numeric statistical report for all tested parameters.
 Multi trace sample particle size distribution graphs.
 Particle size distribution graph indicating mean gradation and 1-99% confidence interval.
 Multi trace trend graph for all specified sieves.
 Single trace trend graph for each tested parameter including specified envelope.
 Distribution graph for each specified sieve or test parameter including specified envelope.
Running mean trend graph for each tested parameter.
 Pie chart indicating compliance category for sample results.

Analytical capability

The analyses produced allow the user to assess the actual compliance of samples with regard to material specifications and the category scheme employed. Additionally statistical information regarding expected compliance can be assessed and compared with the actual figures. Test parameters which exhibit poor control can be quickly identified and appropriate actions taken, in many cases, before actual non compliance occurs.

Optional Aggregate blending module

Facilitates automatic and manual blending of a number of aggregates into a combination to satisfy a given target gradation envelope. Automatic blending is achieved using a non-iterative mathematical technique which is fast and reliably reproduces the exactly the same result from a given set of data. The module is popular with supplier based users who need to combine aggregates from a number of single-size bins or stockpiles into a blend that meets specified gradation limits, it is also of value in trial mix design work. Target gradations can be selected from any existing in the Gradlab sample/ material databases or entered manually.

Optional Blacktop analysis module

Enables statistics to be produced for 'blacktop' materials on a global basis including multiple materials and material types, the standard system allows analysis of single materials only. Analysis focuses on parameters common to all 'blacktop' materials, namely binder content, fines content, filler content, and temperature. Trend, distribution and cusum graphs/ statistics can be produced for each parameter with reference to specified mean values and or user defined targets.

Optional Cusum Control Module

This module enables cusum analysis to be used to control binder, fines and filler content statistically for selected supplier/ blacktop material types. Indication is given when a parameter is out of control, and by how much, thus a control feedback loop can be maintained. Cusum analysis can be easily performed as each ‘blacktop’ sample is entered and ‘breakpoints’ created when adjustments are required. At breakpoints the cusum chart trace restarts at zero and comments can be stored explaining why they have been made.

Optional Mix Design Database Module

Facilitates the storage, calculation and reporting of data for HRA Wearing Course Mixes to BS 598 and ‘airfield’ style mixes using the Marshall method.

Optional Visual Inspection Database Module

Allows recording of visual inspections performed on trucks of materials as they leave a plant or arrive at a job site.

Optional OCL Module 

Allows analysis of Blacktop materials to the requirements of BS EN 13108-21 and PD6691

Optional Dataset Sharing option

This option allows multiple users to access a single dataset concurrently over a network.