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Local industry to benefit from NT’s first Structural Load Test Facility

By Leanne Coleman

Chief Minister Adam Giles and CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks open the Structural Load Test Facility Chief Minister Adam Giles and CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks open the Structural Load Test Facility

A facility to test the integrity of structures in extreme weather conditions such as cyclones and earthquakes, capable of applying loads of up to 50 tonnes (the equivalent of 40 Toyota Corollas), has been opened at Charles Darwin University.

The creation of the Structural Load Testing Facility at CDU’s Casuarina campus means that industry can now conduct physical testing of structural items and components for the engineering industry locally rather than sending structures interstate or overseas.

CDU Engineering and Information Technology Head of School Professor Friso De Boer said the facility represented a major advance in research and technical support for northern Australia and beyond.

“This is the first facility of its kind in the Northern Territory,” Professor De Boer said. “It has been designed by CDU engineers based on local conditions to provide a service for local industry. It will also be key to future research and testing for the oil and gas industries.”

Professor De Boer said the facility had been designed to be as versatile as possible to suit a variety of industry needs.

“The test frame can accommodate a wide variety of items of different shapes and sizes for testing to confirm load-bearing characteristics and ultimate strength,” he said.

“Loading can also be varied to simulate wind loads occurring during cyclonic conditions and time-varying forces experienced by structures during earthquakes can also be programmed into the control system to examine their effects.

“An important issue we also hope to examine is the residual strength of structures/structural elements following a major cyclonic wind event.”

Professor De Boer said the facility would also be used in teaching to demonstrate structural principles to students and the importance of good structural design and detailing.

“A key part of engineering is about understanding how structures withstand applied load, and how these structures behave before, during and after an extreme weather event. Improving access to information in this area will be of real benefit to public safety.”

The Structural Load Testing Facility is located in Building Pink 7A, adjacent to the North Australian Centre for Oil and Gas, CDU Casuarina campus.

The facility was jointly funded by the Northern Territory Government and CDU.