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A Practical Guide to Engineering Failure Investigation

ISBN: 978-1-86058-086-4
272 pages
March 1998
A Practical Guide to Engineering Failure Investigation (1860580866) cover image
A Practical Guide to Engineering Failure Investigation has been written with the specific purpose of helping those involved in serious engineering failures. When mechanical plant fails, the technical, legal and contractual issues become very involved and complicated, and deciding causation can be difficult and prolonged. The principles and methodologies explained here will help
engineers to link their technical knowledge to the commercial realities of working with insurers, loss adjusters and their representatives.

This book is essential reading for consultants, expert witnesses and all engineers who may become involved in commercial failure investigations.


  • How to use this book
  • Professional roles and responsibilities
  • Strategy and tactics of failure investigation
  • The inspection visit
  • Doing a design and operation appraisal
  • Mechanisms of failure
  • Deciding causation
  • How to present your conclusions
  • Insurance investigations – deferring failure ‘events’ and proximate cause – subrogation.
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Acknowledgements ix

Preface xi


Chapter 1 About this book 3

Failure investigations - for what purpose? 4

An effective approach 5

Using the book 6

A reminder - your product 7

Chapter 2 Important concepts 9

Types of investigation 9

Core content 11

The damage/causation framework 'model' 12

Key point summary 25

Chapter 3 Roles 27

Investigation - opposing roles 28

A closer look - offence and defence 29

Professional responsibilities 31

The role of money 35

Victory and defeat 36

Key point summary 39

Chapter 4: Strategy and tactics 41

Strategy 42

Tactics 44

Basic skills 54

Key point summary 67

Part I Rewind 69


Introduction 75

Chapter 5 Getting started - The inspection visit 77

Preliminaries - preparing for the visit 77

First contact - asking and listening 83

Some early ideas 86

Next step - the investigation plan 87

Summary - before you leave 90

Key point summary 93

Chapter 6 Design and operation assessment 95

Design assessment 97

The operation assessment 121

Key point summary 131

Chapter 7 Categorization 133

Categorization -v- causation: the difference 133

Paradox: the role of materials science 134

Failure categories 136

The next step 165

Key point summary 167

Chapter 8 Deciding causation 169

About causation 169

Decisions 170

Causation statements - structure 171

Proximate cause 187

Key point summary 195

Chapter 9 Presenting your conclusions 197

The written report 199

The verbal presentation 206

The dispute 208

Basic skill blocks 212

The dispute 'routine' 214

The radial fan case study dispute 219

Key point summary 225

Chapter 10 Insurance investigations 227

The principles of insurance 228

The insurance investigation 236

Back to the case study 244

Key point summary 249

Conclusion 251

Meanwhile, back in the office 253

References 255

Bibliography 256

Index 257

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