Continuing Education Update

We just completed a seminar on steam system design.  The course covered such topics as sizing steam valves, traps and pilot valve applications.  The course also covered piping distribution as well as load balancing.  Following accepted design practices is as important as correctly sizing the components that make up the system.  With more concern placed on the conservation of energy, the time when ignoring energy waste has come and gone.  More and more energy codes are being adopted by states in an effort to curtail energy waste.  Tennessee, for example, follows the International Energy Code.  As a result, architects and engineers can be held responsible for not following proper procedure as outlined in those energy codes.  More importantly, architects and engineers can be sued if their designs do not perform as building owners expect.  It then follows that insurance carriers that provide errors and omissions coverage for architects and engineers have to pay for designer’s mistakes.  Those of us that practice in forensic engineering will be looking for deviations from code requirements as well as accepted design practices.

 

 

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BMW Recalls

BMW has recalled issued two recalls for approximately one million vehicles.  The first recall involves a defective PCV valve heater that can short circuit and cause a vehicle fire.  The recall applies to 2008 through 2011 model 128i; and 2007 through 2011 models 328i, 525i, 528i, 530i, X3, X5, and Z4.  The second recall is for a defective blower motor wiring connector that also poses a fire hazard.  The connector can cause the wiring to overheat and ignite.  The recall applies to 2006 through 2011 models 323i, 325i, 325xi, 328i, 328xi, 330i, 330xi, 335i, 335xi, and M3; 2007 through 2011 model 335is; and 2009 through 2011 model 335d.  Vehicle repairs are expected to start on December 18 and will be fixed free of charge.  For additional information, consumers can contact BMW by calling 1-800-327-4236.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

In a recent investigation of a crane outrigger failure, we were provided with some photographs of the incident by the insured company’s personnel.  At the time of the outrigger failure, the insured company was attempting to lift crawler tracks for attachment to a 120 ton crane using a 40 ton boom truck.  It was understood that the weight of the tracks was 26,300 pounds.  However, as soon as one track was lifted off the ground, the left rear outrigger buckled.  From all indications, the load was under the load limit capacity of the boom truck.  Upon reviewing the photos that were taken by the insured company, and specifically the area where the buckling occurred in zoom mode, it was noted that the outrigger failed at the point were it exits its storage enclosure.  Upon further inspection of the photograph, something very unusual was noted.  Can you tell what it is by looking at the picture below

Give up?  If you look to the left of the area where the outrigger buckled you will see that the rear end of the large crane is resting on a part of the bed of the boom truck.  In the original photograph provided by the insured company, the position of the large crane on the boom truck bed, is not obvious because it was taken at a distance of several feet away from both vehicles.  The question then arises as to whether the view could have been distorted because of the angle of the photographer as they took the photograph.  The answer is no.  As it turned out, the insured company also provided additional photographs which documented the position of the large crane on the bed and after it was completely removed.  Unfortunately, those photographs cannot be published because they can identify the insured company and therefore, constitute a privacy issue.  Suffice it to say that the partial load of the large crane was enough to cause the outrigger to buckle when combined with the track load of 26,300 pounds.

ATTENTION Tennessee High School Seniors and Current Engineering Students

It’s not too early to start thinking about scholarships for your college education.  R.J. Hill Consulting is continuing to offer a $500 scholarship to any Tennessee high school student interested in pursuing a career in engineering.  This scholarship is also available to any currently enrolled engineering student in a Tennessee public university.  The application instructions are available on our website.  Go to www.rjhill.com then click on “Scholarship Awards and Instructions”.  Scroll down below the scholarship announcement and you will find the instructions listed.  The deadline for application is March 31, 2018.  Although this date seems far in the future, time will pass quickly.  So, be mindful of the time needed to write the required essay.  Good Luck

Pumps and Glycol Solutions

Just completed two webinars; one on the use of glycols as heat transfer fluids and the other on retrofitting pumps in HVAC applications.  Both of these topics are related in that pumps are used to circulate fluids, including glycols, to transfer heat.  Typical applications for glycol use include the food and beverage industry, HVAC, and process chemical.  Pumps applications not only include the previously stated industries but also, utility; both electrical and water, petrochemical, and plastics, to name a few.  Insurance carriers that cover businesses in these industries need to be concerned because property damage as well as personal injury can occur when spills and pump failures occur.  Corrosion is a major problem in systems using carbon steel piping as a conduit for the transmission of the gylcol.  If not properly mixed and the correct inhibitors added, the glycol solution can be acidic and cause wear to occur in pipes and fittings resulting in leaks and spills, if not carefully monitored.  Similarly, the internal components of pumps can come under attack and fail as a result of the acidic conditions that could arise if the glycol solution is not properly mixed.  However, during such instances, insurance carriers are also considering the possibility of subrogating against a third party in order to recover their expenditures.  Potential defendants would include the company mixing and/or installing the glycol solution, the designer and installer of the piping system, and the selector and installer of the pump used in circulating the glycol.  It should be noted that the internal components of the pump can be selected based on compatibility of the fluid to be circulated.

What’s Going On?

Just completed an investigation into why the mast of a rock drilling machine came crashing down on the machine with no warning.  If you’ve ever seen a rock drilling machine, they are equipped with a mast that rests in a horizontal position and can be raised into a vertical position for drilling.  In this particular case, the mast was in the process of being lowered when four bolts failed at the pivot points where the mast rotates from the vertical to horizontal.  Looks like it was just one of those unfortunate things that happens.  Currently conducting an investigation into why the electrical system in a cement mixing truck appears to have short circuited and burned some of the wiring.

Eight Deaths – Really?

We’ve all heard about the eight people who lost their lives at the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Florida.  We’ve also heard about how the Center lost power and as a result, also lost their air conditioning.  The loss of power as a result of Hurricane Irma was not unusual.  With all the destruction, it would have been unusual if they hadn’t lost power.  For several days before the hurricane made landfall the whole country was hearing about Hurricane Irma and how destructive the storm could be.  For at least one week, the staff of the facility had time to prepare for the storm.  Granted, nobody knew where the storm would hit, how much damage would result, how much rain would fall or how bad flooding would be.  Knowing that a major storm was about to hit, it’s hard to believe that the staff didn’t plan to have extra water, food, and medicine on hand just in case it was needed.  Surely, the staff recognized the need to have extra batteries available for electronic medicine dispensing machines, oxygen monitors, vital sign monitors, and the like.  So, how is it that a critical necessity like electric power is overlooked?  Did the center not have a backup power generation system?  If not, why couldn’t they have rented a couple of generators before the storm?  In both cases, the backups would most likely have required the storage of gasoline in order to be prepared for a power outage.  In all fairness, the storage of gasoline could have been as dangerous to patients as the lack of cool air.  If the hurricane had damaged the facility, the stored gasoline could have been a huge fire hazard.  It’s easy to sit back, second guess and criticize those that were supposed to have been in attendance of the patients.  But, when the hazards are considered, choices have to be made.  To err on the side of caution is not necessarily a bad thing.  Food? Yes. Water? Yes. Medicine? Yes. Gasoline? Wait a minute!  Where will it be stored?  Can the stock be safely accessed if debris and flood water are in the area? Can generator fuel tanks be safely filled?  Can generators be safely operated without danger to staff or patients?  These and many more questions will be asked by investigators in order to determine if criminal charges are warranted.  Hopefully, those things that can be improved upon will be improved and staff as well as patients will be as well protected as can be during a major storm.  However, if negligence on the part of management or staff is found to have been a factor in the deaths of the eight patients, then criminal charges should be levied against the responsible people.

 

 

 

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