Any kind of civil or structural failure makes for a big headline. Parties involved often lose their sanity, because there are consequences and a lot is at stake. It’s not hard to lose objectivity in such times. Further speculations make things worse in no time. This is the time for structural failure analysis, for which forensic engineering services are highly necessary. The role of a structural forensic engineer is to consider all relevant factors and aspects and how these may have been related to the structural failure.
How is this done?
The whole process of structural failure analysis is a complicated and complex one, which requires multi-disciplinary teams. Engineers and experts from the field of civil engineering, structural and mechanical fields, electrical and other disciplines get involved, and more often than not, architects are also required to share their inputs. Testing and overall investigation are done in a way that there is clear understanding of the disaster and the aftermath of it. In case of a major disaster, the forensic team should be asked to work immediately, so enough evidence and details can be gathered.
The first step of structural failure analysis is to do a site visit and create video footage and photographic documentation. Measurements, diagrams and witness interviews are also done, so that as much evidence is collected as possible. The next step is to start the process of investigation, where different techniques, technologies and scientific methods are deployed, and different teams work on different aspects. For example, the civil engineering team will check everything related to foundation, materials and other factors that built the structures or may have impacted the incident. Composition of materials is checked by material engineering team, while chemical analysis is done in a lab.
Things to know
It is important to understand that structural failure analysis is relevant to parties with vested interested. Insurance companies, government agencies, regulatory authorities, or even individual parties can invite forensic teams to do a complete and thorough investigation. The evidence submitted by structural forensic engineering teams is also admissible in the court, depending on the firm being used and their overall credibility.
For many incidents and natural disasters, structural failure analysis is more than important, and it also helps in taking corrective and preventive steps for the future. Check online for companies specializing in the sector, and before you hire them, ask all relevant questions and get a few case studies.