From our main Laboratory in Poole, Dorset, ACS provide quality testing and material consultancy for the construction and civil engineering industry. Since our initial UKAS Accreditation in 1990, our scope of soil and aggregate testing has steadily increased as we are now able to offer a comprehensive range of tests, carried out to both British (BS) and European (EN) Standards and to our approved In-House Test Methods.

We provide a comprehensive range of Aggregates and Soils Testing meeting British and European Standards together with Standard Highways MCHW requirements. Mechanical, physical and chemical testing is conducted on a wide range of natural and recycled aggregates to ensure they are fit for purpose.

As well as testing, our Operations Manager and Senior Technicians are on hand to advise clients on their testing requirements as well as interpreting their results.

Digging the hardcore

Aggregate Testing

Test Method What is shows
Water Content BS 1097-5 Percentage of water based on dry mass of sample.
Particle Size Distribution BS EN 933-1 Grading Aggregates to determine suitability using grading limits defined in BS Standards and MCHW.
Constituents of Coarse Recycled Aggregates BS EN 933-11 Recycled materials, physical examination to determine the constituent parts and foreign materials within a sample. (Note; this test is not suitable for sands)
Los Angeles (Fragmentation) BS EN 1097-2 A common test to indicate the resistance to fragmentation indicating toughness, replaces BS 812 Ten Percent Fines test.
Micro Deval BS EN 1097-1 Abrasion resistance and durability of aggregates
Magnesium Sulphate BS EN 1367-2 Soundness of aggregates, resistance to disintegration from soaking and crystallising of salts granules.
Frost Heave BS 812 & SHW Measurement of swell when a sample is subjected to available water in freezing conditions, requirement under MCHW for materials with 450mm of final construction
Particle Density & Water Absorption BS EN 1097-6 Particle density, sometimes referred to as specific gravity and absorption to show porosity of the aggregate when used in conjunction with Loose Bulk Density and Voids test.
Sand Equivalent BS EN 933-8 Determines the cleanliness of a fine aggregate. Reports to % sand presence in sample.
Methylene Blue BS EN 933-9 Determines how absorptive the fine fraction (<2mm fraction) of a material is. i.e. harmful fines content.
Particle Shape – Flakiness/Shape Index BS EN 933-3/4 Slotted sieves designed to determine flaked / elongated shapes with in the aggregate
Loose Bulk Density & Voids BS EN 1097-3 With single size material this will provide mass against volume and using PD/WA voidage can be calculated. 
Max Dry Density/Optimum Moisture Content (Vibrating Hammer) BS EN 13286-4 5 point test to determine the optimum water content to achieve the best density

Soils Testing

Test Method What is shows
Natural Moisture Content BS 1377-2 Percentage of water in a soil based on dry mass
Saturated Moisture Content or IDD BS 1377-2 Carried out on chalk lumps to determine suitability 
Plasticity Index (Atterberg Limits) BS 1377-2 4 parts, Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit, plasticity index and liquidity index.  Clay testing to determine suitability and shrink ability potential
Equilibrium CBR   Combination of tests, Moisture Content, Grading, sedimentation and Atterberg limits used by designers to calculate potential CBR value.
Particle Size Distribution (PSD) BS 1377-2 Grading of soils for compliance to specification including SHW, also provides data to determine uniformity coefficient
Sedimentation BS 1377-2 Additional to PSD to provide a grading of material passing 63micron to 2 microns
Moisture Condition Value (MCV)  BS 1377-4 Compaction test to determine the compactive effort required to compact a material in to a cylinder at ‘as received’ moisture content.
CBR Testing BS 1377-4 Laboratory CBR can be carried out on material at natural or specified moisture content, in additional soaked lab CBR involves immersing the sample in water and measuring swell
Shear Strength Testing BS 1377-7 Applying pressure to a disturbed or un-disturbed sample to measure force required to shear a clay sample.
MDD/OMC (2.5kg, 4.5kg and vibrating hammer) BS 1377-4 5-point test to determine the optimum water content to achieve the best density, different compaction methods depending on the material type and size.
Permeability BS 1377-6 To determine flow of water through a specimen of clay/silt for purposes of landfill design/compliance testing.
Topsoil Suite BS 3882 Combination of physical and chemical testing to determine the suitability of topsoil and reported with BS 3882 limits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of aggregates?

Aggregates bring strength and stability to concrete and bitumen. This makes it an ideal material for constructing roads, runways, and other foundations. They also improve drainage and minimise corrosion, prolonging the lifespan of the structure. To get the most benefit from aggregates, a specialist should conduct aggregate testing to ensure they are fit for purpose.

Why is an aggregate test important?

A wide range of natural and recycled aggregates are the constituent materials in construction projects for roads, drainage, infills, concrete, and bitumen. Aggregate testing is essential for ensuring these aggregates are fit for their intended use so that projects can progress to the development stage.

Why is soil important in construction materials?

The properties found in soil are known to greatly affect both structural design and the materials chosen for application in engineering projects. Chemical makeup and other characteristics such as strength, compaction, density, and contamination data are vital to making effective decisions during the design process and can be identified through soil testing.

What is the purpose of soil testing in construction?

Soil testing is an important part of ensuring the quality and safety of various construction projects. It must be undertaken to determine the bearing capacity of the foundation, its settlement rate, moisture content, permeability, and other necessary characteristics. Different testing methods will be conducted either on-site or in the laboratory.

ACS Services

Please see below for a list of the services provided by ACS:

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Geo-Environmental Consultancy

The ACS Geo-Environmental Consultancy Department has been operating as part of ACS for over 10 years.

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On-Site Testing Services

ACS offers a comprehensive range of professional on-site testing, all carried out by our fully trained site technicians.

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Aggregates and Soils Testing

From our main laboratory in Poole, Dorset, ACS provide quality testing and material consultancy for the construction and civil engineering industry.

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Bituminous Testing

ACS carries out testing on new bituminous binder material and testing on hardened material for physical and chemical properties. Circa pre 1980’s Tar (Carcinogenic effects) was also used as a binder, ACS staff can sample and test materials to assess if Tar was used.

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Concrete Testing

Concrete was the first service to be offered by ACS back in 1987. Since then, we have increased our scope to cover a wide range of UKAS Accredited testing methods on fresh and hardened concrete.

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Mortar and Screed Testing

ACS can sample and test new and hardened mortar. Hardened mortar for mix proportions and constituents, new mortar for compressive and flexural strength.

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Contamination and WAC Testing

At ACS we offer an efficient and reliable chemical analysis service for waste soils and construction materials using various test solids and leaching procedures specified by the Environment Agency.

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Chemical Testing

The ACS chemical laboratory was established in 2007. It complements the physical materials testing service provided by ACS by offering a range of chemical analytical services.

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Leachate and Water Analysis

Our purpose-built analytical laboratory enables ACS to provide a comprehensive sampling, monitoring and analysis service on a wide range of leachate and water samples.

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Natural Stone Testing

Our newly refurbished stone testing laboratory has given us the opportunity to expand our testing scope. In addition, we have increased production and improved on our turnaround of samples.

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Site Laboratory Services

Over the last 35 years, ACS have supplied custom fitted site laboratories with technicians to many construction sites and projects worldwide.

Persistent Organic Pollutants

Our experienced lab technicians can provide detailed and accurate analysis of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in almost any sample matrix in line with the Stockholm Convention.

Energy From Waste

Experts in Energy from Waste residues, ACS offers a full range of services, including gasification, pyrolysis, syngas and tar sampling, and analysis and interpretation of analytical results for IBA and APCr.

RoHS Compliance Testing

At ACS, we undertake rigorous RoHS compliance testing to identify and quantify any contaminants in your shredded waste, ensuring your product meets strict RoHS requirements.

Energy Supply, Generation & Regulation

Our highly skilled team provide industry-leading waste fuel testing services for RDF, SRF, MSW, and Solid Biomass, helping you save costs and meet compliance standards for total peace of mind.


If you require a collection that is outside of our usual range, please feel free to call us on 01202 622858.
Or contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your requirements.