The Mechanical Performance Laboratory of the Institute for Advanced Materials/Joint Research Centre (IAM/JRC) in Petten houses a range of universal and bend testing machines, used to generate tensile, creep, fatigue, and crack growth data on structural materials. A decentralized concept of data automation is implemented, in which each testing machine or group of testing machines is equipped with a dedicated PC for control and data acquisition purposes. All PCs are linked in a network, allowing data analysis and editing from any computer in the network and enabling the transfer of files to other users, for example, the High Temperature Materials Data Bank. The major criteria for selecting the chosen concept are user friendliness and flexibility. The potential of the automation system is illustrated with the help of examples relating to the computer-assisted alignment of a test specimen in a testing machine, to thermomechanical fatigue testing, and to a computer vision system for the in situ tracking of microcracks during thermomechanical fatigue testing.