PLATEMAN plate load tester

PLATEMAN is the advanced plate load testing system, engineered by JF Strainstall's experienced in-house development team.

Safer, quicker and more accurate than traditional plate load testing systems, PLATEMAN provides dynamic intelligence in real-time, allowing you to act on data immediately and with confidence.

The wireless remote logging feature ensures the safety of site operatives, whilst the robust protective casing enables testing to be conducted in all weathers.

The PDA's graphical user interface makes the real-time presentation of results easy to read on site. All of the data is downloaded and analysed using the PLATEMAN PC software and detailed test reports.

The system includes a GPS feature and can be used to record other site information if required. It also includes a lightweight, adjustable reference beam with attached transducers that can be easily transported between test locations and used in most site situations.

“PLATEMAN has improved the way we work; it reduces risk on-site and removes human influence in reading individual gauges. This gives a greater confidence in the testing to ourselves, the client and UKAS.”

- Graham Booker, materials technical manager, Balfour Beatty Major Projects.


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PLATEMAN load tester: Frequently asked questions

Q: What is a plate load test?

A: The plate load test is an in-situ method of determining the vertical deformation and strength characteristics of soil, my measuring the penetration caused by a force on a rigid plate over time.

Q: Why is a plate load test carried out?

A: The plate load test can be used to find the ultimate bearing capacity and characteristics, without the effect of disturbing the ground.

Q: How do you do a plate load test?

A: A circular loading plate is placed on the test area and a reaction load – usually large mechanical plant – positioned above. The test load is applied in pre-determined increments with a hydraulic cylinder and measured using a calibrated load cell. The resulting deformation is measured using 3-4 calibrated displacement transducers. The test load at each increment being held until a set rate of settlement is achieved. The PLATEMAN system takes measurement and calculates bearing pressure, average penetration and rate of settlement automatically.

Q: How long does a plate load test take?

A: This is depend on the soil characteristics and the time take to achieve a low rate of settlement. The more compacted the soil, the quicker the test, but typically 30 mins for a single cycle test.

Q: How do you calculate load for a plate load test?

A: The load applied is measured in KN and the surface area of the plate is used to calculate the applied bearing pressure in KN.m2 (KPa). Larger plates requiring a larger load to achieve the same bearing pressure.

Q: Which Plate size should I use?

A: The largest plate possible should be used, taking into account the reaction available and soil characteristics. For granular soil, the diameter should be at least 5 times the nominal size of the coarsest material and for clays, 5 times the spacing between fissures. 300mm, 450, and 600mm are common plate diameters used.

DIN testing

The PLATEMAN system can carry out testing and present results in the format required by DIN 18134. Strain modulus Ev is calculated from load-settlement fitting curves for first and second cycles.

Q: What is K value in plate load test?

A: The K value is the modulus of subgrade reaction (KN/m3). It is a measure of the material stiffness and is calculated by dividing the maximum bearing pressure by the maximum penetration for each cycle.

Q: What is the CBR value and how is it calculated?

A: The CBR (California Bearing Ratio) test is commonly used to assess the strength of sub-grade. The value can be estimated fairly accurately from the plate load test, with the added advantage that it can be used for testing larger surface areas than a traditional CBR plunger and on more varied material types. The CBR value is determined from the modulus of subgrade at an actual or predicted settlement of 1.25mm, and is calculated automatically by the PLATEMAN system.


Benefits of the PLATEMAN load testing system:

  • Wireless remote logging increases safety of site operatives
  • Compliant to BS1377 or DIN18134
  • Load application prompts for reliable test data
  • Rugged PDA enables testing in all weathers
  • Easy to handle and transport between test locations
  • User friendly and rapid analysis
  • Test results viewed in real-time
  • Customised reporting of results
  • Full equipment training available
  • Complete test package available

All of our equipment is supplied fully calibrated to UK national standards.

PLATEMAN system specifications  
Rugged PDA unit
Features Highly sensitive u-blox GPS receiver
Digital compass
Altimeter / barometer
8m pixel auto focus camera
Built in WiFi, Bluetooth and cellular WWAN
Memory 1GB RAM & MicroSD/MicroSDHC slot
Storage 4GB iNAND flash
Display 4.7 in FWVGA IPS capacitive multi-touch colour
Keypad Numeric with 3 programmable function keys
Battery type 3.7V 5200 mAh Li-on warm swappable
Battery life Up to 8 hours
Connection USB A host, USB micro, RS232, 3.5mm headset
Communication Bluetooth, cellular (WWAN) and wireless LAN
Dimensions L 191mm x W 80mm x D 35mm
Weight 490Kg
Operating temperature -20oC to +60oC
Environmental sealing IP67
Bluetooth PLATEMAN  
Battery type Li-on rechargeable
Battery life 8 hours +
Charge time Approx 8 hours
Power External wall plug-in adapter for 110-240VAC inputs
External cigar plug-in charger for 12-32VDC inputs
Displacement transducer  
Type Linear potentiometer
Stroke 50mm
Resolution Infinate
Operating temperature -30oC to +60oC
Load transducer  
Rated load 250KN
Non-linearity <0.25% of rated load
Operating temperature -20oC to +70oC
Environmental sealing IP67

Lightweight modular reference beam:

  • Manufactured from aluminium with zinc plated steel legs
  • 3m in length - 0.5m short extension available
  • Beam height adjustable to 3 positions
  • Support bar for up to 4 displacement transducers
  • Supplied in a rugged case


Data is downloaded to a PC using the PLATEMAN PC software, which analyses data and produces detailed test reports that can be printed out or transmitted electronically to the client.

The plate load test is a field based assessment to help determine the ultimate bearing capacity and likely settlement of the soil of flexible pavement under a given load.

Load is placed on a steel plate at foundation level and its settlement is measured at increasing load increments. The corresponding settlement (deflection) of the plate is recorded for each loading/unloading step.

The PLATEMAN system enables the operator to simply enter the load cycle template and press 'go'. The PDA then prompts when to increase the load and when to hold and release it, removing the need for the operator to ever enter the potentially dangerous area below the reaction load in order to take readings.