Sometimes failure can be hard to figure out. There can be multiple stresses in an application environment which must be accounted for. Having powerful computers helps a great deal, but the strategy and setup of a problem have to create the picture we need to understand what is causing failure.
I try to look at problems and their complexity by drawing from my experiences. Some key concepts that are common in my approach:
Assumptions Are Key
We find that using accurate boundary conditions help to give us a picture of the robustness of a structure. We try to use generalizations to get to a picture of the extreme conditions. A good rule of thumb is to put your assumptions as far away from your area of interest as possible. This decreases the affect of your assumptions on the answer. This is where powerful computers help. If we were solving a problem by hand, we must put our assumptions close enough to the problem to be able to solve it in a reasonable amount of time. That changes with computing because in the same amount of time, much more can be solved. This allows us to get an even more accurate result.
Analysis, Power and Time
One of the great advantages of having computers in play is leveraging their power. It’s phenomenal the kind of analyses our machines can run. We use assumptions to run quick analyses, and when these are more sound, we can run the machines all night to get to a more precise answer. Many iterations may be done on a single problem whereas if it took too long to do, the iterations would not be commissioned. This results in a better product for the customer.
Accounting For Failure Loads
Whether I am out in an oil field watching machinery work or at an airport observing dynamic loads, there are always different types of stresses acting on a body. Heat, fatigue, dynamic and static stresses all have to be simulated based on reality. The combinations can paint a different picture than an isolated view. With changing technology, some machines are being used in different ways and in different modes than they were originally designed. This has caused some increased cycles, therefore shortening fatigue life.
Collaboration With Clients
A big benefit is to have that back and forth with engineers on a project and those closest to the design and application of a part or system. We can share expertise and get to a better answer of where the design needs to be enhanced. It’s critical to have good teamwork.
When I am able to help engineers and managers find answers to their failure problems, it’s pretty gratifying. Every situation is different, so I don’t have a broad stroke brush.
Having a lot of dialogue and experience helps to make the job easier. We can test assumptions virtually then make those changes in real life.
Complexity can cloud the answer, but having a framework for looking at the problems makes it a lot more achievable for sure.
Do you have an issue that your team is struggling with? How about another set of eyes? We are available to confidentially evaluate your engineering design and possibly provide some guidance.