Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Machinery and Equipment

Should I Trust My Nail Gun?

Can you imagine framing a house with the tools of our forefathers, using hand saws and hammers, rather than power saws and pneumatic nail guns? Power tools have made the job much easier and faster, that even the amateur is well equipped for this kind of work. Read More

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Figure 1:  A view of the blower machinery.

Improper Design Leads to Fatigue Failure In Blower Shaft

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A blower used to exhaust air from an industrial process stopped functioning when the blower wheel drive shaft fractured.  The process, and thereby most of the plant, had to operate at a reduced volume until the blower wheel could be replaced.  The blower wheel had been installed during a shutdown a week before the incident.  The blower wheel was a spare installed when the existing blower wheel was sent for scheduled remanufacturing. Read More

stock-picker-forklift

Evolution of Narrow-Aisle Stock Picker Forklifts

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As the cost of warehousing has increased over time, material handling equipment has evolved to allow higher density storage capacities. Narrow aisle and order picker forklifts are among the innovations that have evolved over the past 50 years to accommodate this trend. Read More

Figure 2: A view of some of the undersize anchors used to secure the capstan winch. The anchors at the upper right failed by pulling out of the concrete slab. The one at the lower left failed by bending and pulling out.

Injury Involving a Capstan Winch

Co-Authored with Jeff Warren, PE   

A capstan winch uses a mechanically powered rotating cylinder, called a capstan, to apply pulling force through a rope. When the rope is looped around the rotating capstan and tightened, friction between the rope and capstan allows the winch to apply force to pull a load. A typical capstan winch is shown in Figure 1 below. Read More

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Are You Prepared for Emergencies? Your Generator Set Should Be!

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Emergency generators are often called into service during catastrophic events like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or fires, but also during more mundane events like thunderstorms and other things that may temporarily interrupt the public power grid. Can you rely on your generator to perform at those critical times? Read More

Figure 2.  A view looking into the mixer. The grate and ribbon are visible. The grate openings are large enough to admit a worker's leg.

Case Study of an Injury Involving a Soil Mixer

Co-Authored with Aron Olson, P.E.

In May, 2014, a plant farm worker was seriously injured when he fell into the hopper of an electrically powered soil mixer.  The mixer in question used a rotating steel ribbon powered by a 7-1/2 hp electric motor to mix batches of materials such as sand, mulch, wood shavings, fertilizers and other landscaping materials to create potting soil. At the top of the hopper sidewalls, within 6 inches of the ribbon, was a steel grate. Read More

Figure 2: A self-propelled roof bolter similar to the one described in this post. The canopy is on the extreme left of the image.

A Case Study in a Coal Mine: What are a Machine Rebuilder’s Responsibilities?

Co-Authored with Aron Olson, P.E.

In November of 2010, a miner was injured by a roof bolting machine (roof bolter) in an Alabama underground coal mine. The roof bolter in question had undergone a complete rebuild intended to return the machine to the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM’s) specifications. Warren was hired to analyze both the design of the roof bolter and the actions of the rebuilder to determine if either contributed to the unfortunate coal miner’s serious injury. Background information on coal mining and roof bolters, as well as an analysis of the roof bolter and the actions of the rebuilder are included. Read More

flooded-electrical-outlet

Flood Damage to Electrical Equipment

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As a result of the recent weather, those of us in South Carolina have gained a renewed appreciation of the damage that can result from flooding. Even a few inches of flood water can result in property damage and a loss of services in addition to the immediate risk of physical harm. Read More

CNC-Millling-Machine

Manufacturer Settles with Operator Injured by a Flying Tool Fragment from Milling Machine

In my June 2015 blog, I discussed a personal injury case where the jury decided that the lack of interlocks on the covers of a swamp cooler did not render it defective, even though it was technologically feasible to do so and their existence would have prevented the amputation.  Conversely, in another interesting personal injury case involving a computer numerically controlled (CNC) milling machine, a large settlement was made by the manufacturer with the injured operator because the machine did not have adequate interlocks on its enclosure doors. Read More

A view of flood related damage to a crawlspace caused by hydrostatic forces.

Are You Prepared to Adjust a River Flood?

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While working numerous Hurricane Sandy Flood Loss Claims in New York and New Jersey, I met many homeowners who didn’t understand the coverage limitations of their FEMA flood policy.  They were shocked, even mad, when they discovered some damages were not covered by the flood policy.  It pays to be prepared, courteous, kind, and tactful in responding to those adversely affected by any flood related event.
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