Message from Tom Crane, P.E.

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Nearly four years ago, Crane Engineering acquired Safety Engineering Associates to further bolster and broaden our expertise as a forensic engineering company. I am proud of how the Crane and SEA personnel have come together and thrived since and during this transition.

We have now reached a point in our merger where we feel it’s beneficial to fully embrace one company and one brand. Over the next several months we will be phasing out the Safety Engineering Associates brand but they will remain a vibrant part of Crane Engineering.  This move will solidify and formally align the 2014 acquisition so we can better position the company to you, our clients, as well as other partners and prospects.

Throughout the rest of the year and culminating early next year, we will be embarking on a rebranding process. This effort will be anchored by the development of a new Crane Engineering logo, which will be incorporated across all of our communication vehicles to ensure a unified and cohesive brand going forward.

We look forward to celebrating Crane’s new brand and continuing our great partnerships together.

Sincerely,

Tom

Evaluating Electrical Systems after a Fire by Steve Hamilton, P.E., CFEI

After a fire, damage assessments begin.  One aspect of assessment is the electrical system.  There may be direct damage to electrical wiring or devices, or indirect damage from heat, smoke or water (fire suppression).  It’s surprising how frequently I see cost estimates for repairs that fail to include replacing, or adequately repairing, equipment that has been exposed to smoke or water.

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Crane Engineering Presents . . .

Many of Crane Engineering's professional staff speak at events across the country.  Following are a few of the presentations we have given in the last month:

  • Luis Flores:  ASCE Congress on Technical Advancement, Duluth, MN—Sept. 10.  Topic:  A Synopsis of Incident Site Documentation.
  • Scott Dillon:  Propane Gas Defense Association Fall Meeting, Chicago, IL—Sept. 28.  Topic:  Application of Technology, Forensics and the Scientific Method to an Alleged Propane FireCase Study of a Fire at a Furniture Store.
  • Luis Flores:  North Dakota Defense Lawyers Association (NDDLA) Annual Meeting, Bismarck, ND—Sept. 28.  Topic:  Passenger Vehicle and Heavy Truck Event Data Recorders.

Contact any of our staff members to see if they are available to speak at your event, or for general information contact Holly Taylor.

Timing in Fuel Gas Migration: Modeling and Analysis by Christopher J. Brand, P.E.

Timing in Fuel Gas Migration: Modeling and Analysis by Christopher J. Brand, P.E.

As the cliché goes: “timing is everything.” This often applies to forensic analysis of fuel gas leaks and their subsequent migration, whether it be natural gas or propane. Usual questions are, for example, how long did the leak run before an explosive mixture was produced? What was the gas concentration at the time of the incident? Would the odorant have been detectible?  The answers to these questions lead to an understanding of the incident.

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Employee Spotlight: Scott A. Sollars, P.E., CGE, IAAI-CFI

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With over 20 years of experience as a mechanical engineer, Scott Sollars has a solid background in mechanical systems, safety and hazard evaluation, combustion mechanics, and fuel-gas systems and components. He has extensive experience conducting site inspections, particularly those involving product liability.

Over Scott’s years of work as a mechanical engineer one thing he often sees is the mishandling of party notification.  He was reminded at a recent inspection of how important it is to fully identify interested parties prior to scheduling an inspection.  As he inspected a house fire involving a furnace the group realized a component manufacturer wasn’t in attendance and had not been put on notice.  The inspection had to be halted, the missing party was notified and the inspection was rescheduled for a later date. ASTM E 860 Standard Practice for Examining and Preparing Items That Are Or May Become Involved in Criminal or Civil Litigation requires that experts recommend to their clients that all interested parties be notified of destructive testing.  Following this standard would have saved time, money and frustration for an entire group.

Check out more information on Scott Sollars, or contact him directly with your mechanical engineering needs.

Identifying Unknowns Using Infrared Light By Mark E. Weiss

Identifying Unknowns Using Infrared Light By Mark E. Weiss

FT-IR (Fourier Transform Infrared) Spectroscopy is a technique used to extract chemical information from a sample, using infrared energy.  Some molecules, when exposed to infrared energy, absorb some of it.  Measuring the amount of energy absorbed over a range of infrared light can indicate the types of chemistry present in an unknown sample.  Some of the areas where this technique may be useful are in the identification of foreign particles in food products; verification of various types of plastics; and analysis of oils, gasoline and diesel fuel in potential vandalism cases.

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Exciting Upgrades to Our Scanning Electron Microscope by Lloyd M. Meissner, P.E.

Exciting Upgrades to Our Scanning Electron Microscope by Lloyd M. Meissner, P.E.

Crane Engineering has been at the forefront of forensic investigations for decades. Our first Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) was purchased in 1995. The SEM allows for high magnification imaging of fracture surfaces of metals, ceramics and plastic samples.  It is a key tool used in forensic investigations, complementing photographs and optical microscopy. 

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Employee Spotlight: Mark Weiss

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Mark Weiss is a highly skilled laboratory chemist and technician with more than 25 years of experience in polymer analysis and processing. Among other investigation support, Crane Engineering looks to Mark’s chemical analysis skills for the identification of materials and contaminants.

Mark has been with Crane Engineering for five years.  One of the aspects he finds very fulfilling is the unconventional nature of his work.  While much of it takes place in Crane’s chemistry lab, oftentimes data and sample collection occur on rooftops, in aircraft, or standing in a working hog barn—rarely a dull moment!  Mark recently spent many hours researching new lab equipment and was instrumental in procuring our new FTIR Spectrometer.

For assistance with your polymers/plastics, chemistry, and unidentifiable residue needs please contact Mark.

ATV Dynamic Front Wheel Load by Adam Wise, P.E.

ATV Dynamic Front Wheel Load by Adam Wise, P.E.

A recent case raised the question of what dynamic vertical front wheel loads are encountered by an ATV during “normal” and “abnormal” use.  To answer that question, Safety Engineering Associates designed and fabricated an instrumented ATV front suspension strut and conducted numerous tests to measure wheel loads while riding.  An on-board data acquisition system recorded the vertical wheel force, front suspension travel, vehicle speed and other parameters of interest. 

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3D Photogrammetry Used to Analyze Off-Road Accident Scene by Curtis Beloy, P.E.

3D Photogrammetry Used to Analyze Off-Road Accident Scene by Curtis Beloy, P.E.

Safety Engineering Associates analyzed an ATV accident resulting in a product liability claim that had occurred over 10 years earlier.  Leading up to trial, a point of contention with the plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert involved the specific location of physical evidence on a hillside where the accident occurred.  Photographs taken the day of the accident depicted the evidence, however the perspective that the photographs were taken from were not ideal for showing where the evidence was located relative to the base of the hill.  While we were confident in our plot of the physical evidence, we sought a way to clearly demonstrate this to a jury.

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Servicios en español

Safety Engineering Associates has added a Spanish language section to our website to highlight the services of our bilingual staff members, Hernán Mercado-Corujo and Luis Flores. Hernán provides clients with expert consultation regarding complete vehicle reliability, motor vehicle and component testing, product evaluation and validation, as well as vehicle fire Origin and Cause. Luis brings significant experience in vehicular accident reconstruction and forensic engineering to the firm, including airbag control module data imaging, evidence preservation, site documentation, and analysis.  http://www.craneengineering.com/espanol

Employee Spotlight: Matthew J. Jeske, G.I.A.C, A.C.E.

Employee Spotlight:  Matthew J. Jeske, G.I.A.C, A.C.E.

Matthew Jeske, a GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE) by the SANS Institute, brings a passion for technology to Crane Data Forensics. Matt has been providing his expertise in data forensics, data recovery and technology consulting at Crane Engineering for over four years with nineteen years of information technology (IT) experience. His casework has varied from data collection in industrial explosions to mobile device examination for local law enforcement crime labs to corporate incident response.

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Vehicle Crash Data Retrieval Information and Physical Evidence: A Case Study by Luis C. Flores, P.E., ACTAR

Vehicle Crash Data Retrieval Information and Physical Evidence: A Case Study by Luis C. Flores, P.E., ACTAR

In the realm of accident reconstruction, and with the advent of the passenger vehicle event data recorder (EDR), colloquially known as the “black box,” comes a professional responsibility to correlate extracted data to physical roadway and vehicle evidence. Modern vehicles are equipped with various modules whose primary function is to control the various safety restraint systems, some of which can also record event data from a collision.

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Inspecting Those Hard to Reach Areas–Quickly and Inexpensively by Scott A. Nesvold, M.S., M. Eng., P.E.

Inspecting Those Hard to Reach Areas–Quickly and Inexpensively by Scott A. Nesvold, M.S., M. Eng., P.E.

There are times where an inspection will be necessary in the most unique or hard to reach places.  In some cases, it is too difficult or time consuming to rent, transport, and construct temporary equipment that may or may not end up gaining the access that is required.  This can cause delays that are costly and can miss the opportunity to document the area of interest.  Crane Engineering has the ability to use ropes access techniques as an alternative means of gaining access to difficult to reach areas in seemingly impossible locations in a manner that is cost sensitive, efficient and highly effective.

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Motorcycle Crash and Burn: Fuel Filler Cap Analysis By Curtis Beloy, P.E.

Motorcycle Crash and Burn: Fuel Filler Cap Analysis By Curtis Beloy, P.E.

A man on a sport-touring motorcycle was involved in a single vehicle crash while riding on a country road. Immediately following the crash, flames began to engulf the motorcycle and the man sustained injuries from the fire.  A claim was brought against the motorcycle manufacturer alleging the fuel filler cap on the fuel tank was defective, resulting in leaked fuel and the post-crash fire.  According to the Plaintiff’s testimony, there had been prior occasions where he attempted to close the fuel cap after a fuel stop, only to have the cap come open shortly thereafter.  He further testified that at the time of the subject crash, he saw fuel spilling out of the cap as his motorcycle was falling to the ground.  Since the ignition key of the motorcycle is used to access the fuel cap, the claims included that the fuel cap design should incorporate a safety mechanism which prevents removal of the key unless the fuel cap is properly latched.

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Computational Fluid Dynamics: It’s Not Just for NASA Anymore By Christopher Brand, P.E.

Computational Fluid Dynamics: It’s Not Just for NASA Anymore By Christopher Brand, P.E.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) uses computer calculations to solve thermal and fluid problems. These results can then be processed and visualized for further insight and understanding. Unlike traditional testing, these simulations do not require physical construction or data acquisition hardware. Another advantage is that alternate scenarios can be investigated relatively easily.

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Employee Spotlight: Steve Hamilton, P.E.

Employee Spotlight: Steve Hamilton, P.E.

Steve Hamilton, P.E. is an accomplished Electrical Engineer with more than 25 years of experience in electrical engineering and information technology. His engineering experience spans areas of design, power systems and electromagnetic interference modeling and analysis, construction support, and construction compliance assessment. He has been with Crane Engineering for about two years.

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Sometimes It’s the Little Things . . . by Mark E. Weiss

Sometimes It’s the Little Things . . . by Mark E. Weiss

When faced with a failed product, we spend a lot of time deconstructing the artifact in an effort to determine what went wrong and why. It could range from material or design failure, to inadvertent chemical exposure, sometimes it is simply an obstruction.

Let’s take as an example a small fluid valve. Be it a medical component or an industrial actuator, the clearances are often very tight and susceptible to seizing by the introduction of a small particle wedging between the moving components of the valve, or possibly obstructing a very small fluid port along the fluid path.

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