Friday, 26 August 2016

Expert Witness: Plant Design: European Engineer

Demel Sachertorte

I spend the early part of the week in Austria, talking to a company and their lawyers about an expert witness job I am doing over there. Brought back a Sachertorte for Annemarie.

Later in the week, conducted interviews with the engineers involved in the design, construction and commissioning of the plant. All very interesting (and very secret). As ever I wish it were less secret, as there are always lessons to be learned from expert witness jobs on how not to do things.

I'm due to write an article for Chemical Engineering Magazine next year on lessons learned from some other jobs, (all anonymised though not covered by official NDAs) which will cover the most common mistakes which I see time and again.

I'm going to attend another training course on advanced expert witness report preparation in the next few weeks. You have to keep up to date with what the courts want from reports.

Unlike other experts I could name, I also keep current with respect to engineering. I have pulled in a couple of troubleshooting contracts recently, one new, and one repeat business. It's nice to get out of the office occasionally.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Effluent Treatment Plant Layout : Expert Witness : Water Process Engineer : Design Review

Process Plant Layout : Mecklenburgh : CoverProcess Plant Layout : Sean Moran : Cover
It's almost all about plant layout at the moment. Spent the last week (amongst other things) comparing a 3D CAD model with earlier 2D versions of the same design.

Proofs for the plant layout book are really starting to come in now. The publishers have done a nice job of scanning in the illustrations from the original Mecklenburgh book, and they are going to allow me full colour on all of my new ones. Should make for a good-looking book.

Compare the two covers above for an idea of how much better-looking it will be.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Plant Design and Layout Expert Witness Design Review

Springfield Nuclear Plant Problems

I was given a 3D model of a problematic plant design to review in Navisworks recently as part of an expert witness engagement. This is the second time this has happened in recent months, and I must admit, I still prefer good old-fashioned general arrangement and isometric drawings.

As I discuss in my latest book, the main advantage of 3D models is to allow those unfamiliar with 2D drawings and 2D CAD software to review a design. This advantage comes at the cost of disadvantage for those who are familiar with the 2D CAD drawings which will actually be used to build the plant.

My experience of 3D models is mostly limited to their application to designs bad enough to require viewing by an expert witness, so I may be a bit jaundiced, but my experience of them so far makes clear that they do not seem to prevent poor plant layout.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Expert Witness Reports: Checking Calculations

Water Hydraulic Design Spreadsheet

I've been checking a great many documents and calculations this week as part of ensuring quality and accuracy in my latest expert witness report.

This kind of checking is an important part of engineering practice, which many engineers, (especially beginners) do not see the value of, and consequently try to avoid. However, if you do enough checking of this type, you realise that the best of us make mistakes.

The point is not to avoid mistakes in calculations or arguments, but to eliminate them to the maximum extent possible by checking and correction before they are acted on.

I do not however find that a large percentage of my expert witness work hinges on poor mathematics. Even a green engineering graduate can do a sum. The problem is very often failing to choose the person who knows which sum to do to design something.

It seems that all too often, design is carried out by people who lack the proper professional judgement, and those who are supposed to be checking their work do not take enough care in checking before appending their signature.  

If that is you, try to remember that someone like me might be reading those documents you put in your outbox signed off but fundamentally unchecked twenty years later.