Vol. 8

In many legal cases, a loss, injury or death was caused by something bending or breaking.

"The issue was wholly the impact; the
corrosion was of no consequence."

The operator of a workover rig at an oil well failed to prepare the mast hydraulic cylinder, and while being lowered the heavy boom rotated freely for a substantial distance due to the lack of cylinder support. The resulting impact severely damaged the truck frame.

There was a legal battle over whether corrosion on the frame crossmember was the true cause of failure.

Detailed finite element models of an original "no corrosion" frame and of the corroded frame were prepared and analyzed subject to a normal lowering of the boom and to the impact that occurred. Comparison of the stress levels proved that the issue was wholly the impact; the corrosion was of no consequence.

While there is no such thing as a typical case, hopefully this case has demonstrated how expert analysis and finite element analysis (FEA) can shed light on why something failed. FEA applies across a wide spectrum of industries, and when simple hand calculations are not enough, an experienced analyst can help explain the failure.

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