How can a Plate Bearing Test determine Soil Load Capacity?

by | Jul 11, 2023

There’s a great chance you’ve heard of a plate bearing test at one point or another. After all, it’s arguably the most common geotechnical investigative technique out there. Plate tests are particularly useful for projects that require temporary supports, such as scaffolding, to help determine the ground bearing capacity and ensure it’s stable enough for your equipment. This week, the team at Borehole Solutions want to delve deeper into the plate bearing technique and explain what is involved in the process.

How does a Plate Bearing Test work?

Plate tests are actually an incredibly simple process. Firstly, a steel plate is placed on the ground at foundation level. Weights are then loaded onto the plate in five increments. As the plate is pressed into the ground, any movements are recorded at one-minute intervals. This occurs until there is no longer any discernible movement. Due to the size of the plate and weights involved, a counter-ballast must be used. This is in line with the requirements of British Standard (BS) 1377 Part 9: 1990. Here at Borehole Solutions, we typically opt for a digger or excavator as our kentledge.

What do the Results from Plate Tests Show?

Ultimately, what a plate bearing test looks to determine is whether the ground conditions are suitable to support temporary structures. It does this by calculating soil bearing capacity, the modulus of sub-grade reaction, and provides an indication of likely settlement. It may seem like a relatively trivial process; after all, how often do you see these structures collapse? If you’ve not properly ascertained the suitability of the area beforehand, however, the risk of damage or injury greatly increases. It’s no wonder they’re one of the most crucial investigative methods out there!

How does this Compare to CBR Testing?

As both tests predominantly look to assess surface bearing strength, there is often confusion between the two approaches. What separates the plate bearing test and California Bearing Ratio (CBR) testing, however, is the scale of the investigation. As we mentioned, the plate test relies on the application of pressure upon the ground. On the other hand, the CBR test focuses on far smaller areas and relies on a more penetrative motion. CBR testing is often used to provide data for roads and pavements. Both approaches are absolutely viable; which one you should use, however, depends on your specific project.

Our Services

Plate bearings tests aren’t the only geotechnical technique that we specialise in at Borehole Solutions. Here are just a few of the other approaches we can offer:

  • Sonic Drilling
  • Rotary Drilling
  • Restricted Access Drilling
  • Window Sampling
  • Pit Digging
  • Casing and Rig Hire
  • Water Well Drilling
  • Soakaway Installation
  • Sampling and Testing

Contact Us

At Borehole Solutions, we have over two decades of experience providing a variety of bespoke drilling services. If you’d like to find out more information on the plate bearing test, or any of our other services, then call us today on 01733 200 501, or simply click here to speak with our expert team directly. We look forward to hearing from you soon!