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Unveiling the Secrets of Afterlife Forensics: Decoding the Mysteries of Equipment Failures

Materials.Business Newsletter ⚙️ December 14th, 2023


Podcast Guest: Hugo Julien, P.Eng

Summary of the discussion

In a world where towering tanks hold the secrets of decades, and seemingly harmless water heaters harbor the potential for explosive surprises, the intricacies of industrial engineering come alive. Join us on a journey into the heart of industrial incidents, where the seemingly mundane transforms into the extraordinary, revealing the hidden dangers lurking within our everyday surroundings. In this podcast episode, we unveil gripping tales of catastrophic consequences resulting from the interplay of design flaws, human error, and the relentless forces of physics. Brace yourself for a riveting exploration of industrial incidents that transcends the ordinary, exposing the critical role of meticulous engineering practices in safeguarding our lives and the environments we inhabit. If you are listening in Spotify or Apple Music, we encourage you to check it out in YouTube, to be able to see the pictures and descriptive case studies presented by Hugo.
The highlights of the discussion are:

Overview of Forensic Engineering: The podcast discusses the role of a forensic engineer who specializes in investigating incidents related to engineering fields, such as explosions, leakage, and contract conflicts. The engineer's mission is to understand what happened and determine the reasons behind incidents.

Human Error and Document Quality: Emphasis is placed on the prevalence of human error in engineering incidents. Monica and Hugo highlight the importance of quality documentation in the investigation process, as poorly done documents can lead to incorrect conclusions and misplaced blame.

Post-Construction Activities and Owner Responsibility: "The majority (80%) of incidents are attributed to post-construction activities, particularly related to bad operation and maintenance". Says Hugo -

The podcast stresses the importance of owners actively participating in the design process and clearly communicating their needs to ensure equipment safety throughout its service life.

Industrial Incident Examples Reviewed: Hugo showed real-life examples, such as a bitumen storage tank inspection and a sandblaster explosion, emphasizing the importance of proper design, inspection, and documentation in preventing incidents. He was able to get citations of many instances of inadequate inspection, incorrect equipment modifications, and human errors leading to catastrophic consequences, illustrating the need for thorough engineering practices.

Lessons Learned:
Monica and Hugo, both, stressed the significance of adhering to design codes, regulations, and safety standards, highlighting the potential risks associated with non-compliance. They discussed the critical role of professional engineers in reducing the risk of incidents, emphasizing the need for continuous training and ethical practice. However one of the biggest take aways is the importance of proper documentation, including assumptions, observations, and images, to facilitate forensic engineering investigations and enhance overall safety. Bolstering the call is a spirited encouragement for collaborative efforts between engineers and forensic experts, recognizing the collective responsibility for ensuring the safety of industrial equipment throughout its life cycle.

In a personal and resonant touch, Hugo, our insightful speaker, wraps up with a passionate plea. He urges fellow engineers, led by the effervescent Monica, to contribute detailed documentation, including assumptions, thoughts, observations, and pictures. This, he stresses, will not only facilitate effective forensic investigations but also stand as a testament to the industry's commitment to safety.

Hugo Julien currently works at CEP Forensic as Forensic Engineer and at HJC Consultants as a senior consultants in pressure installations of all kinds. He has held several positions of responsibility in different departments, such as quality, production, and engineering assessment and has been applying the ASME\API codes in a very in-depth fashion since 1998. Due to his expertise in interpretation and practical application of codes, Mr. Julien is a highly sought-after consultant for pressure equipment and storage tank fabrication, inspection, repair and all sort of engineering assessment. He is also a skilled communicator, able to easily define and solve problems. Mr. Julien has also been giving seminars on pressure vessels and piping since 2004 as an ASME Instructor. He's also a certified API 571 and CSA W178.2 Level II inspector.  Finally, he's a CSA B51 associate member since 2017. Picture taken at an investigation site....
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Attention WOMEN in Corrosion!

This year the young EFC - European Federation of Corrosion joined efforts with EFC EDI task force, M.S.C.A. Steminist, Coatings - Open Access Journal and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to organize the Women in Science Week 2024!

We invite you all to join us from 5-9th February 2024 to participate in FREE webinars with renowned scientists and a scavenger hunt, where you can win a prize

Keynote speakers and topics:
Monday, 5 Feb - 11:00 CET: Prof. Véronique Vitry: It's never too early to start being a Woman in Science
Tuesday, 6 Feb - 11:00 CET: Cécile Deprez: Addressing microaggressions in the workplace
17:00 CET: Monica Hernandez: Breaking Barriers and Creating Solutions in Corrosion Science
Wednesday, 7 Feb - 11:00 CET: Prof. Anna Sandak: Curiosity and Humility – Key Elements for Scientific Breakthrough
Thursday, 8 Feb - 11:00 CET: Stephanie Siewert: Women in Science Communication
17:00 CET: Ulrike Boehm: Gender equality, so what? Why it matters, and what we can do
Friday, 9 Feb - 11:00 CET: Tamara Tuvic: Women in Science: Publishing and Meet an Editor Q&A

Key dates:
February 2nd 2024: registration deadline
February 5-9th 2024: Women in Science Week
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