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Latest news from the Harrison Group

Harrison’s Laboratory Renews UKAS Accreditation


April 9, 2019

Harrison’s Laboratory Renews UKAS Accreditation

Our in-house soils and materials testing laboratory UKAS accreditation has been renewed for another four years, following a successful audit in March 2019.


“The two-day audit is carried out every four years to ensure we continue to maintain the exacting standards of testing required by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service [UKAS],” said General Manager – Testing Services, Henry Chapman..


“Our laboratory is accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. Accreditation has also been extended to include the calculation of the Uniformity Coefficient of granular material, using results from grading tests, which is commonly used in highways projects.”.


Henry said he hoped that more accredited tests would be added this year and said the laboratory manual was also being re-drafted to meet the requirements of the recently updated BS EN ISO/IEC 17025:2017 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. This will be used to confirm the competency, impartiality and consistent operation of a laboratory going forward from 2019 and beyond through UKAS..


For more information go to or contact Henry Chapman on 01603 613111.


Harrison Recycle Old Mobile Phones


March 22, 2019

Harrison Recycle Old Mobile Phones



As part of its’ Environmental Management System, Harrison Group is always working to minimise the use of single-use plastics and follows a comprehensive program of recycling materials that are in in everyday usage.


We have recently recycled 46 old mobile phones through a service offered by Oxfam. You may spot some familiar classics in the photograph – a few of them are still working!


Through the recycling process, if the phones are in a good enough condition to be refurbished, this will be carried out and they will be put to good use once again.


Mobile phones that are in a poor condition are passed on to specialist recyclers. They systematically dismantle each constituent part, and the materials – including precious metals – are then re-used in the industry.


30 Not-out in Malta


December 6, 2018

30 Not-out in Malta

We are celebrating 30 years of helping Maltese clients solve complex engineering challenges.

“Our relationship with Malta began in 1989, when we worked on the site investigation of a new quay in the Freeport,” explained Harrison Chairman David Harrison. “This led to seven years of continuous work for the Malta Freeport Corporation, working on extensions to two more terminals.”

Since then, Harrison has carried out a wide range of projects, including rock stability assessments for the Santa Venera road tunnels and the ground investigation and geotechnical design for the Salina Coast Road.

“While we are best known in Malta for our ability to solve complex geotechnical problems, we also work in the wider built environment industry,” David added. “For example, we are currently assisting with the Construction Skill Card scheme, writing National Occupational Standards for the Maltese government.”


Salina Coast Road

Harrison’s Advanced Data Management Recognised


November 25, 2018

Harrison’s Advanced Data Management Recognised

Our approach to modelling archived site investigation data on a site with a history of chalk mining was highly commended at this year’s Keynetix Data Management Awards.


“We had a large amount of data – mainly hand-written logs – from the site, dating back to 1999,” explained Harrison Data Manager Conrad Stewart. “Rather than just proposing additional fieldwork, we decided to digitise this information first.


“We used Autodesk Civil 3D to create a model that gave us the opportunity to validate the mapped locations of the mining pit and shafts and to add value to our engineering assessment.


“Despite the task being more in line with a desk study, the results and interpretation we provided was as if a full-scale investigation had been carried out. This provided useful insight to site conditions, but at far lower cost. Plus, we now have a database of information that can be used for other sites in the area.”


Four of our entries to this year’s Keynetix Data Management Awards were shortlisted in three categories: Data collaboration, data innovation and data visualisation.


“These entries demonstrated our full range of capability, from changing our company culture towards centralised data management, to improving project status updates, and an innovative approach of combining NHBC tree assessments with site investigation data,” Conrad added.


“Geotechnical and geoenvironmental software is advancing at a rapid rate,” he said. “We have always been an early adopter of new data management tools and technologies, to help us to gather investigation, monitoring and insitu test data on site; improve how we manage laboratory test data; and to deliver BIM-ready ground models. Together, this helps our clients get the maximum benefit from investigations.”


Keeping Up Standards


November 14, 2018

Keeping Up Standards

We have updated our sampling and testing procedures, following a number of changes to geotechnical industry standards in 2018.


“While standards are revised all the time, there have been a significant number of updates to the key ones for geotechnical investigation and testing this year,” explained Harrison General Manager – Testing Services, Henry Chapman.


“We hold more than 2,000 books, publications, guidance and standards in our library, with new versions being added all the time,” he said.


“It can be a challenge keeping up with the changes because standards are published by several different organisations, including the British Standards Institute (BSI), CEN (the European Committee for Standardization) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). All of them use different terminology too, for instance BSI uses confusing status information such as current, partially replaced, superseded for the same document.


“Amendments are sometimes incorporated by adding a ‘1’ or ‘2’ and so on to the updated version and text and contents may show changes with icons. While the updated year of issue is usually in the title, quite often, a standard can remain current for time alongside the document replacing it, so it is important to clarify which one to use.”


Some recent changes of note are:


BS EN ISO 17992 Geotechnical investigation and testing. Laboratory testing of soil: There have been a number of changes to test procedures, namely: the incremental oedometer test, fall cone test, unconfined compression test, unconsolidated undrained triaxial test, consolidated triaxial compression test on water saturated soils and, finally, the determination of liquid and plastic limits.


BS 1377 Methods of test for soils for civil engineering tests: Changes have been made to procedures for classification tests, chemical and electro-chemical tests and shear strength tests (total stress).


BS EN ISO 5667 Water quality. Sampling. The procedure for the preservation and handling of water samples has been updated.


“It is crucial to ensure all our processes comply with the current guidance,” Henry said. “This will mean that our clients can be confident their data has been gathered using the latest and most accurate techniques, and that results are valid when using this information in design and analysis.”


New Graduates Join Harrison Group


October 20, 2018

New Graduates Join Harrison Group

We have been delighted to welcome four graduate geotechnical engineers to Harrison Group over the past few months. Sam Hedges and Joe Sparks have joined our London office, after both completing their Masters at the University of Portsmouth, and Callum Burke and Duncan Campbell are based in our Cambridge office – Callum has a BSc from Portsmouth and Duncan has a BSc from the University of Glasgow. We look forward to working with them and helping them to develop their careers.

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Breakthroughs in Data Handling


September 10, 2018

Breakthroughs in Data Handling

Improving Efficiency by Data Validation

Our Project Inputting Tool (PIT) is transforming the way we validate and manage ground investigation data, saving time and money for our clients, says Harrison Group Environmental Data Manager Conrad Stewart.

Delivering all the data from a ground investigation – from borehole logs to laboratory test results and insitu monitoring data – in one complete digital package, rather than reams of paper reports, is now the norm for the geotechnical industry.

This data needs to be robust to ensure clients get the maximum benefit from the investigation.

We realised that, while most of our site investigation data was processed for use in our geotechnical database system, HoleBASE SI, we were still handling the same data multiple times for insitu test results and monitoring. This was inefficient with an increased risk of errors.

It also meant data was not being used to its full potential, as it could not be included easily with the main site investigation data.

To solve the issue, we created the PIT, based on a KeyAGS template, that combines all project data in a single workbook. The PIT allows us to use standard Excel functions to validate and auto-calculate required fields when needed.

The step-by-step process ensures data is entered correctly, picklists are used to replace manual entry, to ensure standard codes are used for every project. Legend codes are automatically generated from the strata descriptions. BGS lexicon and geology codes can be easily included.

We also have automatic validation processes to ensure data is correct. The PIT flags up errors, such as logged strata depths falling short of the final recorded depth or missing data. Additionally, locations are converted automatically from the national grid to latitude and longitude, so data can be used in apps such as Google Earth.

Further functionality has been introduced to collect data from gas analysers, level loggers and water sampling devices and laboratory testing, allowing it to be merged easily with the rest of the investigation data.

The PIT can also be used offline to process data and only needs to be connected to the system when converting the data to AGS format and to upload it to HoleBASE SI, allowing engineers to become more efficient as they are involved in data processing.

Additionally, clients have access to the AGS dataset as part of the project deliverables and we can ensure the highest levels of quality in validity of the information.

Dynamic visualisation and integration

Our new tool to visualise Dynamic Penetration Testing (DPT) results in 3D will help identify potential ground hazards and ease integration and sharing of data in BIM.

Dynamic Penetration Testing (DPT) is a fast and effective way of measuring the relative density of the ground and ideal for identifying soft zones and potential problem areas on site, such as dissolution features.

We often use DPT in our investigations but found that, when assessing ground conditions, geotechnical engineers wanted to see potential problem areas, in 3D, rather than looking at field test profiles.

We developed a simple way of creating 3D visualisations of DPT results, a solution that also works with our geotechnical database system, Keynetix’s HoleBASE SI and, specifically, its Civil 3D Extension.

The extension allows geotechnical data to be integrated with other project data and visualised in AutoCAD, enabling improved collaboration between project teams working with BIM.

By designing custom CAD blocks – each representing a 100mm blow increment from DPT results. Blow counts are colour coded with bandings that can be tailored to suit the requirements of each investigation. This data is integrated with the ground model and displayed in 3D.

The 3D model makes visualisation and interpretation of trends in the results much more effective than previously and consequently providing additional tools in our armoury to improve the quality and turn-around time of the analysis.

Constructionline Gold for Harrison Group


April 17, 2018

Constructionline Gold for Harrison Group

As part of providing the highest levels of quality of service to our clients, Harrison Group Environmental has now raised the bar as a Gold member of Constructionline.
Previously a Silver member of the register, this increased level brings with it additional benefits to our clients. These include:-

  • An extended Verified PQQ – this exceeds the data collected by PAS91 to include Environmental Management, Quality Management, Equalities and Diversity. It ensures that we abide by legislation in areas such as modern slavery, anti-bribery and corruption, and equal opportunities.
  • Health and Safety SSIP certificate – we have been assessed for and awarded, an Acclaim or ‘Deemed to Satisfy’ SSIP certificate, demonstrating to clients that we comply with Health & Safety legislation.
  • Raising the professional standard of Harrison Group Environmental – to acquire Gold membership we have been subjected to increased scrutiny around governance and risk management.

The quality of the services that we provide is central to the satisfaction of our clients and our continued success.
We will continue to strive to not only meet the standards of quality and health & safety that form the benchmark of our industry, but, wherever possible, surpass them.
With this in mind, we look forward to working closely with our clients in the future.

AGS Commendation Presented to Henry Chapman


April 17, 2018

AGS Commendation Presented to Henry Chapman

Harrison Group Environmental places great emphasis on the safety of staff when working for the company, whether it be on-site or in an office environment.
As part of this ongoing commitment, the company is pleased to announce that Henry Chapman – General Manager for Testing Services – has received the AGS Certificate of Commendation 2018, for his ongoing support to the Safety Working Group and for his work in contributing to the production of the latest safety and quality guidance.
The group meets 3-4 times a year and is a platform to monitor existing safety guidance and implement revisons where necessary to continuously improve the safety environment of staff working in the industry.
The select members of the AGS Safety Working Group bring a wealth of experience of working in the geotechnical engineering and geoenvironmental industry and Henry has been a member since May 2015.
During the last 3 years he has, amongst other work, drafted guidance for the use on-site of Nuclear Density Gauges and revised Trial Pit Safety.
In addition to this Henry has contributed to a number of additional safety guidance reviews. These include working with asbestos and the dangers of legionella.
He is currently reviewing the guidance on the effects of work-related stress within the industry.
Harrison Group would like to wish Henry every success in his continued work with the group.
Presentation details can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Henry receiving his commendation from Neil Parry – Chair AGS

New Sinkhole in Norwich City Centre


March 17, 2018

New Sinkhole in Norwich City Centre

The long history of sinkholes appearing in Norwich is well documented, with the double-decker bus incident of 1988 making headlines around the world.
The latest one opened up on Tuesday 13th March in Rouen Road, an important thoroughfare in Norwich city centre, resulting in closure of the road.
Based in Norwich, the staff at Harrison Group Environmental have extensive knowledge of the local geology and, in addition to carrying out the ground investigation work after the bus incident, have also worked on a number of sinkhole projects since then.
Company MD, Steve Williams was approached by the regional newspaper – The Eastern Daily Press – for his view on the occurrence of sinkholes in Norwich. He commented:
“Many ground subsidence incidents in Norwich are related to the compaction of fill material associated with past development activity and, less frequently, with collapse of historic mine workings in the chalk underlying much of the city.
“In addition to this, sinkholes commonly occur in the area, linked to dissolution pipes associated with the underlying chalk. It is slightly soluble and groundwater flow can lead to widening of joints within the chalk, which can be filled with overlying soils, creating a pipe of loosened soil above.
“It is the collapse of these loose soils, often caused by concentrated water flow associated with leaking water pipes or drains, that create the surface depressions referred to as subsidence sinkholes.
“Such features are common in Norwich and, while they can be difficult to detect, suitable risk assessment and appropriate design can be used to alleviate potential problems for new development”.