Tag Archives: testing

I’ve been on some extensive travel lately and as Chris Gammell related travelling for engineering is no easy task. Making sure you have all your necessary test equipment and access to all the resources you might need involves a lot of planning. But sometimes things just don’t work out in your favor. I’ve talked about testing to failure before. However, plenty of times when you are not anticipating failure it happens anyways: Murphy strikes again. The problem is in dealing with your failure. Very often it’s unclear whether you caused a component to fail or whether you had a bad component to begin with. Miss MSE just talked about how engineers need to be good storytellers. Unfortunately there’s very often no good story to tell. If it was your equipment that caused the failure (but you can’t figure out how) that sort of implies you’re due for future failure. Or…

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Failure is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s exactly what you want. You might start with one component that’s been well tested with the existing system. It can be a simple clamp or a complicated swing valve (like the one pictured from DHV Industries). You probably tested it out when it was originally implemented and proved you had plenty of safety margin. But now your system has changed. Maybe you’re sending your system into freezing winter temperatures or hot, arid deserts. Maybe you’ve got a more powerful compressor that generates much higher pressures than you’d been dealing with before. So how do you test that component? Most standards would suggest you take your max operating conditions and increase the magnitude by 50% and test at those conditions. That proof test would verify your equipment can operate safely at your max conditions giving you a 1.5 safety margin. But in…

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the variety of authors we have at Engineer Blogs. We have a mix of  academic and industry engineers and each arena provides its own challenges and goals. But one major thing we have in common is probably getting the test equipment you need. In the photo, USN avionics technician Norton is repairing a test bench (via Morning Calm News). Test equipment can kind of run our lives and our schedules if we aren’t careful. Academics are probably familiar with scheduling time at strange hours and working around the other researchers and students who might need to share the same equipment. Those of us in industry have similar issues with whose project takes priority for the EMI chamber or the oven. Does heat treating a production piece after a weld take priority over an emergency investigation of a material that might be failing at lower…

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The upside to the end of the week is I feel justified calling my pieces a “journal” (eh, they’re a bit longer most weeks than the would be if I wrote during the week, so that helps me justify it internally too). The downside to posting at the end of the week is that all the good topics are taken by my cohorts. And they wrote about some great stuff too! I identified particularly closely with Cherish’s explanation of how hard it is to sometimes get started on projects, even with looming deadlines. However, there’s one area of work when the deadline cannot be put off and you simply cannot procrastinate: when there are problems in a manufacturing environment. I work in a manufacturing environment daily. I’m not a manufacturing engineer, but I’m expected to interface with them regularly. And when problems come up, there’s little time to lose. Why?…

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There’s been an interesting back and forth on here where Miss Outlier discussed the conflicts of the theoretical versus the experimental in the week where we discussed interdisciplinary engineering and our struggles therein. Miss Outlier expressed her own point of view in working with theoreticians. Cherish then responded with her post the model engineer a sort of defense of simulations. This was on my mind lately as I had a few separate pieces of analyses that I had to complete this week. Last month I asked the question of whether a design can be too robust. I talked about the issues inherent where an engineer is expected to make predictions on the future. Sometimes predictions that have critical safety connotations. These can be terrifying, especially to an early career engineer. In my experience I’ve been asked to do analyses that fall into two separate categories. The first is a theoretical prediction…

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It’s been one of those weeks where nothing works like it’s supposed to and while you’re trying to troubleshoot one problem you find another. So what is it with manufacturers and letting errors slip through? Some I can understand. Some are one in a million probability or only happen sometimes. By the way, how exactly are you supposed to troubleshoot a software problem that doesn’t happen every time? Maybe the errors wouldn’t be so bad if they were a little more consistent. I can understand getting different results if you tested your assembly in the summer and now it’s winter or vice verse. But some errors are inexcusable. Critical safety issues should not only pop up warnings in your backup system leaving your main system unaware. And running should work equally well in your main system. You shouldn’t have to run a platform from the backup only. How does this stuff…

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