Shepherd UTB

Shepherd Construction are working alongside sub-contractors PES UK Ltd to provide the largest and most unique Universal Test Bed in the country at the Health & Safety Laboratory’s new £56 million purpose-built facility, being constructed by Shepherd in Buxton, Derbyshire. 

At 18 metres x 3 metres, the Universal Test Bed (UTB) is approximately three times the size of those typically used in industry, resulting in many key design characteristics affecting Shepherd and PES during the 6 month bed plate manufacture and the 2 month construction and installation programme. 

The foundations of the UTB have to be immensely strong to resist the extreme forces exerted onto it by the test equipment. Shepherd formed these foundations by pouring a three metre deep reinforced concrete slab, into which 259 reaction anchors, each measuring 2••• metres in length and 42mm in diameter, have been installed by PES. Manufactured to strict measured tolerances, the anchors are used to hold five twenty-five tonne 500mm deep cast iron floor plates into position. 

The installation of a moveable gantry is another particular challenge in construction of the UTB. This enables the safe movement of each 25 tonne plate and of proof test equipment involved in the final commissioning. The proof test exerts multiple forces of up to 100 tonnes onto the plate surface and its T-slots – this unique load requirement meant the T-slot depth was the largest ever cast by PES’s German manufacturing and design facility. 

When operational, a modular clamping element will fix tested equipment into position on the floor plates. Testing will then be monitored remotely from an adjacent control room so that the outcome can be monitored from a safe distance. 

Upon completion of the UTB, a rigorous proof testing operation will commence to ensure the equipment is ready for use when the building is completed by Shepherd in Autumn 2004. The 2 week proof testing period produced maximum deflection figures far in excess of the requirements of the specification, in fact deflections of no greater than 0.03mm were recorded against a requirement of + - 0.25mm. All in all proving that this is a test area unlike no other. 


For further information contact: 

Julie Booth, Marketing Assistant, Shepherd Construction Ltd 

Tel: 01904 660508 Fax: 01904 660238 email: 

Lee Shorrock, Technical Director, PES (UK) Limited 

Tel: 01455 251251 Fax: 01455 251252 email: 

Notes to Editors: 

About Shepherd: 

1. Shepherd is constructing the project under the Government’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI). 

2. Shepherd Construction is an industry leading construction company handling projects up to £100m in value for the Public and Private sectors, including leisure, commercial, industrial, housing, health, education, retail and research laboratories. 

3. It operates throughout the UK, with its Head Office in York. Shepherd’s regional offices are located in Manchester, Birmingham, Langley, Leeds, Darlington and Huntingdon. 

4. Shepherd Construction employs approximately 1000 people with a wide base of skilled craftsmen and a multi-disciplinary in-house design team. 

5. Since its foundation more than 100 years ago, the business has been a recognised leader for quality, innovation and training. It was the first national construction company to achieve Investors in People in 1992 and passed its fourth re-assessment with flying colours in 2001. Shepherd holds three prestigious National Training Awards, as well as the 2002 Contract Journal Award for Training. 

6. It is part of Shepherd Building Group, one of the largest family owned, private companies in the UK, with Group turnover in excess of £500 million. 

About the Universal Test Bed: 

1. Universal Test Beds (UTBs) are designed to test large-scale pieces of equipment that have been found to be faulty, through the use of hydraulic weights and the simulation of any factors that were apparent when a fault occurred, such as weather conditions. Examples include fairground rides which have been involved in accidents, and street lamps which have buckled. 

2. The design of the elements comprising the HSL laboratories’ UTB was done by PESs own design house, CFM Schiller. 

3. The depth of the plates at the HSL laboratories’ UTB meant that special casting techniques were used during manufacture by German company Stolle to control the iron cooling process. 

4. A T-slot is a cast slot in the form of an up turned t shape which enable T nuts with a threaded hole in their center to be slid in from the end of the slot and enable a fixing point to be positioned anywhere along the slot that suits. 

About PES: 

1. PES UK Ltd was contracted by Shepherd Construction to Design the reinforcement reaction frame carrying the reaction anchors and bed plate assembly, manufacture the bedplates, install the bed plate components and carry out proof testing of the bed area. 

2. PES UK Ltd provides technical expertise and services plus top brand materials and products to the construction and engineering industries for the installation and assembly of machinery. 

3. Formed in 1981, PES has gained extensive hands on experience in the UK and every continent in the world 

4. For full details of core products supplied by PES and site services commonly offered, visit 

About HSL: 

1. The Health and Safety Laboratory is an Agency of the Health and Safety Executive. 

2. The concession agreement with Investors in the Community (Buxton) Ltd (ICB) provides for ICB to finance, design and build and then maintain and operate the new facility at Buxton, together with some remaining experimental buildings and facilities at the site, for a period of 30 years, ICB will also assume responsibility for disposing of the vacated Sheffield site. 

3. The new facility at Buxton will provide laboratory and associated ancillary and office accommodation, which will enable HSL to maintain its position at the forefront of research into workplace accidents and work related diseases. 


121 Redford Avenue, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 2HH, England 

Tel/fax: +44 (0)1403 260863 E-mail: 

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