Failure analysis is an analytical technique used to assess causes of failure of systems and components. Many systems and components do suffer from premature failure despite the advancement in design and manufacturing methods. Many systems and components are used mostly with in the design envelop of use. Occasionally systems may undergo excursions outside design envelop leading to failure. The focus of failure analysis is to ascertain these events and prevent them from future occurrences. Many different types of failure analysis are available. Some of these are focused on product and process prior to manufacturing and use. These are known collectively as failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA). Despite this, failures occur in usage. The objective of failure analysis is to ascertain the cause such as design failure, material failure, or usage failure. The technique is used mostly in forensic investigation or post mortem investigation. A failure analyst will use several different techniques from chemical analysis, microstructural investigation, to mechanical testing to ascertain the cause. Capability We had carried out hundreds of failure analyses in the past several years for customers from the following industries:
Majority of the failures were related to corrosion, erosion, fatigue, creep or combination of them, over load failures due to heat and climate affect. We use both in field observations as well as laboratory analysis of failed components to identify root causes such as design failures, material failures, environmental issues, usage issues, etc.
Failure of FRP Wound Tubes
A chemical manufacturing company has approached us to investigate the failure of glass reinforced plastic wound tube during pressure testing for application in chemical plant. We analyzed the tube samples using regular analytical techniques like microscopy, mechanical testing, nondestructive (ultrasonic) testing, root cause analysis, etc. Further root cause analysis led to the issue in the manufacture of the tubes in the supplier installation. The issue was rectified by changing the supplier of the product.
Failure of Crane Rails
A chemical manufacturer approached us to identify the root cause of sudden failure of crane rails in an electrolytic plant. WE used both field analysis and laboratory analysis like corrosion potential measurement in the field, microcopy, chemical analysis of the failed sample, etc. The root cause of the failure was identified to be magnetically induced corrosion enhanced by strength reduction due to inclusions and intergranular corrosion film in a chlorinated environment.
Failure of High-Temperature HVAC Tubing
A water purification company approached us with a failure of welded stainless-steel tubing in an HVAC unit. Regular microscopic techniques revealed poor quality of welding leading to leakage of fluids enhancing pitting corrosion. The investigation mandated improvement to welding quality control procedures and inspection procedures.
Failure of Newly Renovated Car Park Coatings at an Airport
A public infrastructure building contractor approached us with a failure of paint and coating in a public building during renovation operation. The building was an airport car park located in a very humid and hot climate. Field analysis indicated lack of adhesion of paints to an old concrete surface. Further analysis of the process indicated un controlled paint procedure, specifically the preparation of the concrete surface prior to painting leading to lack of adhesion of coatings. The investigation had led to change of procedures.
Failure of Crane Hook
A major distributor of crane hooks approached us with a complaint from his customer about frequent failure of crane hooks. A focused investigation of failed hooks using regular microscopy, chemical analysis, and mechanical testing indicated mainly steel quality issues, specifically inclusions and grain flow in the product. Recommendation regarding steel processing has helped the customer to minimize the rejection issues.
Key words: Failure analysis, root cause analysis, failure mode and effect analysis, FMEA, fatigue failure, over load fracture, corrosion of structures, fiber reinforced composite tubing, steel tubing.