Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Machinery and Equipment

Graphitic Corrosion – Difficult to determine before a failure!

Graphitic corrosion is a process that may happen in equipment made of iron, particularly grey cast iron, but also ductile cast iron. Graphitic corrosion can lead to unexpected catastrophic failure of the affected part because the cast iron can lose its strength without a visible warning such as a change in size, shape, or appearance. Read More

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Figure 2. A detail of the CAD model showing the area in which the firefighter was injured.

Firefighter burned due to improper industrial oven design and operation

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Industrial ovens and furnaces are used in many manufacturing processes.  One use of industrial ovens is for drying and curing coatings on fabrics.

I investigated a fire loss involving a very large oven, 10 stories high, used for curing coatings on an industrial fabric. A young firefighter was burned in response to this fire, one of a string of many fires that had occurred involving the oven.

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Figure 2: A view of a typical PLC.  The blue and red wiring to the right terminate at the PLC’s input / output wiring connections. The processor is to the left at the keyed switch.  This PLC has capacity to communicate over an Ethernet data link.

Forensic Examination of Losses that Include Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s)

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Many modern machines and processes are controlled by Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s).  PLC’s are essentially computers that have the ability, properly connected and programmed, to interface with the outside world and control the actions of a machine like a robot or conveyor.  The PLC has a processor for processing the user programmed logic, and also has input / output (I/O) wiring provisions for both analog (e.g. temperatures and pressure transducers) and digital (e.g. limit switches and indicator lights) devices.  Read More

Gas valves from a process furnace that experienced an explosion. The final gas safety shut off valve has its wiring cover partially open. This can be an indication that someone was directly powering the valve and bypassing the control system safety logic. Open wiring covers on controls should be fully investigated.

Stay in Control: Manipulation of Electrical Controls Can Lead to Fires and Explosions

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We have a saying at Warren, “When we go to work on a new case, usually someone else has had a very bad day.” If you are a plant manager at a factory, you know it’s a bad day when you hear the fire alarm or a loud explosion emanating from the back of the plant. Read More

The left side of the container handler.

Container Handler Fire

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Container handlers are mobile, rubber-tired, machines that are used to load and stack standard containers at a variety of shipping terminals.  The machines resemble oversized forklifts but are equipped with shipping container lift spreaders instead of forks.  The machines are often equipped with sophisticated computer systems that inform the operator which container needs to be lifted as well as its destination, whether it is a truck, train, or storage stack. Read More

A portable electric generator should never be operated indoors, including garages, crawlspaces and sheds.

Winter Safety Tips for Portable Electric Generators

During winter ice storms, power to residences is often lost and homeowners revert to using gasoline powered portable electric generators.  It is often thought by some homeowners that leaving a generator outside in the severe weather may damage it or affect its performance and therefore resort to bringing the unit inside the shelter, typically, the garage. This is particularly hazardous when the generator is run for an extended period of time as carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic exhaust gas can cause death. In addition, other hazards including electric shock, electrocution, fire and burns potentially can occur. Read More

A view of two workers inside a recirculation paint spray booth, clothed in personal protective equipment as required by OSHA Standards.

The Down and Dirty on Paint Spray Booths Recirculation Systems

Back when I first started in the safety field in the 70’s it was not uncommon to see spray painting operations where there was no exhaust system and in others paint vapors were exhausted straight into the environment. Needless to say this was not good for our environment and also wasted a lot of paint. Read More

[SLIDESHARE] Ovens and Furnaces

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Safety through design is a critical consideration in oven and furnace manufacturing. This slideshow takes a look at industry standards governing their design and identifies common safety oversights. Read More

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