During its 50-year period, ELE International has been involved with many innovations and changes. ELE’s John Sutton outlines the progress of the company itself and the materials testing industry in general.
The construction materials testing market
The first commercial soil mechanics laboratory in the United Kingdom was established following investigations to a slope failure at the Chingford Reservoir. At that time the only other soil mechanics laboratory in the United Kingdom was at the Building Research Station, which is now the Building Research Establishment.
In 1943 John Mowlem established Soil Mechanics Ltd. as a specialist testing laboratory in the developing field of soil mechanics. The period 1944-1946 saw the science of soil mechanics grow to a point where other testing facilities were being set up in universities.
The council of the Institution of Civil Engineers decided to form a British national society of the International Society of Soil Mechanics & Foundation Engineering in October 1948. It was constituted early the following year, holding its first formal meeting in October 1949.
During the late 1960s, work was being carried out by the UK Cement and Concrete Society on the performance of concrete compression testing machines. The outcome was the development of a proving device (Footemeter) to measure the stability of testing machines. This “strain cylinder” device is now specified in the latest European standards for machine performance criteria.
In 1988 the U.S. Strategic Highway Research Program was conceived as a means of developing new technologies for designing and maintaining longer-lasting, safer roadways. In 1993 the program had been completed and new methods for testing asphalt were implemented resulting in the “Superpave Mix Design.”
In more recent years, the growth in ground engineering and application of geotechnology practice and materials quality control generated the need for new equipment and created an enormous opportunity for the design, development and manufacture for testing equipment required in the fields of soils, concrete, cement and asphalt.
ELE International (initially Engineering Laboratory Equipment) was established in March 1961 by Soil Mechanics Ltd. and Griffin and George. The company comprised just four staff. The original concept was to coordinate the technical design and expertise of Soil Mechanics Ltd. with the manufacturing, marketing and sales expertise of Griffin and George.
In 1961, ELE published its first catalogue. At that time a limited line of testing equipment was being manufactured by Griffin and George, but by working with four other companies in the United Kingdom, ELE was in a position to promote a wide range of products to a number of developing regions.
A key element of the ELE strategy was to not only supply products, but to provide installation and training to organizations involved in the development of their own infrastructure. Considerable resources were put into the design and development of high-quality products.
In 1979, ELE Inc. was established to penetrate the U.S. market, and in 1980 ELE acquired Soiltest Inc. USA, which provided ELE with ASTM standard products and access to a substantial customer base.
Following the acquisition in 2001 by Danaher, based in Washington, D.C., changes to products have been implemented, and new sales and marketing methods to reach key decision makers have been successfully introduced. The majority of markets and products that are supplied by ELE are defined by International Standards, and the goal is to provide differentiation in products, sales and service support.
Danaher has enormous worldwide reach and facilities, enabling ELE to utilize these resources around the globe. Importantly the specification and quality of products from these facilities are defined and subjected to quality control by ELE.
The past 50 years have brought many challenges and much change. ELE has overcome these challenges, learned from the change and enjoyed continued success throughout this time. With the experience it has gained and the strong core values on which it is based, its future is assured.
For more information about ELE International, visit www.eleusa.com, call (800) 323-1242 or e-mail [email protected]
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