Unrisky business.

Case study .

Taking the risk out of introducing new technology
to the construction industry.

LIFTbuild are pioneers of a vertical manufacturing assembly process for multi-storey buildings. Each floor assembly is constructed at ground level then lifted into place, with subsequent floors added beneath in a reverse stack.

Given this method of assembly, the connection between the primary floor girders and these cores is critical.
LIFTbuild developed an efficient concept and worked with Thornton Tomasetti to come up with an innovative engineering solution for the connection. But how well would it work in practice?

To take the risk out of introducing such an innovative solution on an actual construction project, LIFTbuild uses a comprehensive Design-Test-Sense framework. Once they design a solution, they test it well beyond its expected performance. Finally, they use sensing equipment to monitor actual performance in a real-life installation.

And that’s where we came in.

As world leaders in innovative construction, we share LIFTbuild’s passion for evidence-based design, and our on-site test lab made us the perfect fit for this project.

Our construction team worked with LIFTbuild to create a test plan to:

  • Construct the girder connection test specimens.
  • Design and build a bespoke test apparatus.
  • Load the connection to more than twice the expected design load.
  • Collect test data and provide a report.

Test specimens

We worked closely with LIFTbuild to make sure the specimens accurately represented their connections and were compact enough to test in our lab. The specimens were manufactured in New Zealand and included a section of the girder, supporting column and welded endplate connection.


“Holmes Solutions built superb test specimens and an outstanding test rig that performed perfectly. Our whole team is very happy with the services Holmes Solutions provided. They are our “go to” for testing critical structural components”.
– Steve Houston, Innovator and Analyst

The test apparatus replicated real-world loading and connection constraints. We used a hydraulic cylinder to reproduce the dead and live loads that would be imposed on the floor slab.

We set up a livestream so the LIFTbuild team could see the testing in real time.

With the success of this project, LIFTbuild wants to test other parts of their innovative building designs – and we’ll be right there beside them.


We tested each specimen to more than 1.5 times the expected design load and the connections easily handled this load. We gathered in-depth data from each test and the connection passed with flying colours. The LIFTbuild team were keen to push it further so we tested the connection to the full capacity of our test apparatus – more than twice the design load! The connection handled the demand with no performance loss.

The LIFTbuild team were thrilled with the results. This is a testament to the Design-Test-Sense framework. Nice work team!

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