What Is That Goo? by Hernán Mercado-Corujo, P.E., CFEI, CVFI

What Is That Goo? by Hernán Mercado-Corujo, P.E., CFEI, CVFI

Clunking sounds, reduced engine power, wrecked hydraulic pumps. These are some of the symptoms of foreign substances making its way into an engine or transmission. Fuel and lubricants can become contaminated in several ways, including vandalism/fraud, inadvertent fluid mix-ups, and weather exposure, among others. If this happens on a piece of agricultural, industrial, or commercial equipment, the replacement and/or repair costs can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. For this reason, an inspection of the equipment along with the collection of substance samples may be worth the effort when analyzing, examining and assessing an engine or transmission failure claim.

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What is the Difference between a Biomechanic and a Doctor? by André Loyd, P.E.

What is the Difference between a Biomechanic and a Doctor? by André Loyd, P.E.

The difference between a doctor and a biomechanic is the same as a mechanic and an accident reconstructionist.  Mechanics are experts in diagnosing and fixing what is damaged on a vehicle, while accident reconstructionists are experts on deciphering what happened during a vehicle accident.  Likewise, doctors are skilled at diagnosing and healing an injury, but biomechanics are trained to tell you how the injury occurred.  An accident reconstructionist looks at the physics of an auto accident, just as a biomechanic looks at the physics behind an injury.

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Upcoming Presentations

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Employee Spotlight: Adam Wise, P.E.

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For over fifteen years Adam Wise has worked in the areas of motor vehicle accident investigation, reconstruction and product liability analysis as a mechanical engineer with Safety Engineering Associates. He is experienced in accident site and vehicle documentation; motorcycle, ATV, and passenger vehicle testing; design analysis; and much more.

An interesting case Adam recently worked on involved a motorcycle operator riding a 1000cc sportbike on an interstate highway who claimed that he was “bullied” by a driver operating a loaded tractor-trailer.  The motorcycle operator testified that the truck driver prevented him from exiting the highway by slowing significantly as the motorcyclist was attempting to slow and move behind the truck from the left lane.  Adam analyzed data recorded by the truck’s electronic control module (ECM) and proved that the truck driver had maintained a nearly constant speed around the highway exit.  Adam also compared the performance capabilities of the plaintiff’s motorcycle and the defendant’s tractor-trailer to illustrate how easily a motorcyclist could outmaneuver a tractor-trailer, if desired. 

                                                                     For more information on Adam, click here.  To contact him directly, click here.

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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