Materials Testing – A Specialist Service

The materials testing marketplace has seen some significant changes over time. As the construction and civil engineering industries have become more tightly regulated, testing is, perhaps, seen by many as a hindrance. A necessary evil but an unnecessary cost. In reality, proper testing of materials can save time and money across the lifespan of a major project.

One of the major changes in the testing world has come in the form of a migration of skills. Many of our clients no longer retain their own testing engineers or laboratories; so testing is increasingly seen as a specialist, outsourced service.

The construction industry is very familiar with the concept of sub-contracting when it comes to specialist services. It simply doesn’t make financial sense to spend time and money establishing a testing laboratory that is not going to be running at capacity – the equipment is expensive, it takes up a lot of space and the technicians needed to operate the equipment are becoming a scarce resource.

Maintaining a lab capable of carrying out a wide range of tests is not without its challenges. Keeping up to date with the latest regulations, motivating and retaining experienced technicians and maintaining accreditation involves a degree of investment that many businesses are not prepared to commit to. When times get tough, it’s the peripheral services that tend to get cut first.

A knock-on effect of this loss of in-house experience is often experienced during the project scoping or tender phases. Obtaining quotes for a range of tests shouldn’t be a purely commercial consideration – the cheapest quote is not always the best quote. An appreciation of why the test is needed, rather than just what test is mandated, can generate significant savings.

Of course, for testing companies like CET, this represents an opportunity. Not only do we maintain a network of nationwide UKAS accredited testing labs, but we have some of the best trained and most experienced technicians in the industry. In many cases, access to this expertise is just as important as the ability to carry out a given test.

When we are asked to carry out a specific test, one of the first things we do is ask what the objective is. Understanding why the test is needed allows us to potentially recommend alternative tests that will produce the same results but in less time, or at a lower cost.

Flexibility is one of the key things to look for in a testing company. The ability to provide alternative tests, spot scoping errors, or provide on-site facilities for major projects all add value.

For more on the range of materials testing services from CET, visit

Gary CorriganAbout Gary Corrigan

Gary studied chemistry at Bell College in Hamilton, before joining the materials testing industry as a trainee technician for Frank Saynor & Associates in Glasgow. He moved south of the border in 1986.

Thirty years on, he is the Commercial Director for CET; responsible for the continued growth and profitability of CETs infrastructure division throughout the UK.