Fun Fact Friday: ASME NQA-1 Quality Assurance Program

Fun Fact Friday: ASME NQA-1 Quality Assurance Program

Encorus is proud to offer guaranteed reliability through our established American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Nuclear Quality Assurance Program (NQA-1).

Lindse Runge, one of Encorus’s Quality Assurance Technicians, gives some insight regarding what the NQA-1 Program is, what she does, and what type of clients would benefit from the program. NQA-1 is a nuclear quality assurance standard for nuclear facilities in the U.S. It relates to the design, construction and operation of such sites, and is a highly-regarded industry standard. ASME NQA-1 was created and is maintained by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). This standard provides requirements and guidelines for the establishment and execution of quality assurance programs during siting, design, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear facilities. This standard reflects industry experience and current understanding of the quality assurance requirements necessary to achieve safe, reliable, and efficient utilization of nuclear energy, and management and processing of radioactive materials. The standard focuses on the achievement of results, emphasizes the role of the individual and line management in the achievement of quality, and fosters the application of these requirements in a manner consistent with the relative importance of the item or activity.

Lindse’s responsibilities include enforcing and implementing the requirements of Encorus’s QA program, developing / revising documents as required to comply with customer QA requirements and ASME NQA-1 requirements, reviewing customer purchase orders for QA requirements in order to develop plans to implement requirements throughout the project, reviewing Encorus purchase orders for QA requirements to ensure flow-down of customer requirements, participating in audits and surveys, and maintaining project files and documentation to ensure legibility, revision control, and traceability of records.

Encorus has a Quality Assurance Program that conforms to NQA-1 requirements to allow us to supply items and services to nuclear facilities. Clients that would benefit from an NQA-1 Program include the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, nuclear constructors, nuclear fabricators, and nuclear power plants.

If you think you would benefit from Encorus Group’s NQA-1 Program, please contact Quality Assurance Technician Lindse Runge at (716) 592-3980 ext 137 or lrunge@encorus.com.

Welcome Sindy Tang!

Welcome Sindy Tang!

Please join us in welcoming Sindy Tang to Encorus’s Design Group! Sindy recently graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from University at Buffalo, and will be joining Encorus Group as an Electrical Engineer. Welcome, Sindy!

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Risk-Based Inspections

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Risk-Based Inspections

Inspections are a key part of any commercial facility, and an important part of maintenance for many personal properties as well. It’s important to ensure that equipment, safety measures, and other important aspects of a structure are in adequate condition to continue to serve their intended purposes. Risk-based inspections are a useful form of evaluation that provide a property or facility owner with insight into the probability and consequences of failure associated with each piece of equipment.

Risk-based inspections are included in the category of business practices known as optimal maintenance, which are procedures designed to maintain systems in ways which maximize a company’s profits and minimize its costs. Risk-based inspections and other optimal maintenance procedures are useful in operating a business as efficiently as possible. Many procedures for risk-based inspection are based on the American Petroleum Institute’s recommended practices, and are performed via nondestructive testing.

A risk-based inspection usually involves 2 key components: a probability of failure analysis and a consequence of failure analysis. Each of these serves a unique role in developing a plan to maximize efficiency.
Probability of Failure (PoF) is the likelihood of a piece of equipment to break at a given time. This information can be important in determining the risk posed by the condition of the equipment and in deciding what inspection intervals to set in order to best monitor the condition of the equipment as time progresses. PoF is calculated using a generic failure frequency based on industry averages, a management system factor based on how well management and labor force are trained to handle both daily activities and emergency procedures, and the overall damage factor, which is the combination of all of the various damage possessed by the equipment at the time of evaluation.

Consequence of Failure evaluations are another part of risk-based inspections, and give the critical aspect of determining the significance of damage that could potentially occur if a piece of equipment were to fail. The evaluation acknowledges all important possibilities, including potential safety hazards, economic damages, and environmental damages. This allows engineers to understand how dangerous a piece of equipment could be when nearing the end of its lifespan.

A major benefit of a risk-based inspection is that it categorizes each piece of equipment by its risks and risk drivers, and is able to better prioritize further inspections and safety measures. Knowing how and when equipment may fail allows employees and management to make safe and educated decisions about how to continue operating equipment at all times, but especially when equipment is approaching the end of its usable lifespan.

If you are in need of a risk-based inspection for your business’s assets, contact Keith Taylor, Director of Mechanical Integrity with Encorus Group, at (716) 592-3980 ext 143 or ktaylor@encorus.com.

Special thanks to our summer intern Mara Gilmartin for this article.

Structural Engineering in the World: Jenga Edition

Structural Engineering in the World: Jenga Edition

The concepts of structural engineering can be observed in many things that people commonly deal with on a daily basis, including buildings, bridges, and other structures, but did you know that structural engineering theories can be seen in the popular balancing game, Jenga? According to the How Stuff Works website, Jenga displays 5 major structural engineering principles.

The first concept that Jenga portrays is loading, which is the idea that a part of a structure supports the weight of another part or the rest of the structure. In Jenga, no two blocks are the exact same dimensions, therefore it is possible to remove loose blocks that do not rest evenly on each other. These blocks do not hold any of the weight of the rest of the structure, meaning that they are not load bearing. Structural engineers need to determine a load path so that the entire structure supports the weight from the pressure being exerted downward. The How Stuff works website tells us that there are three types of loads: dead loads, which are the “forces applied by all of the static components of the structure, like beams, columns, rivets, concrete, and drywall”; live loads, which are “the forces applied by all of the ‘moving’ elements that can affect a structure, including people, furniture, cars, and normal weather events like rain, snow, and wind”; and dynamic loads, which are “live loads that occur suddenly with great force. Examples are earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, and airplane crashes”. When designing a structure, structural engineers need to perform calculations to ensure that all of the load bearing elements can support all three types of loads.

Jenga also portrays concepts relating to foundations. When setting up the game of Jenga, one should consider the surface upon which they want to build the tower. Unstable or uneven surfaces are a poor choice that would lead to the eventual collapse of the tower. Sturdy surfaces, such as a flat table or a hard, level floor, would be a much better choice to ensure the tower will not fall unprompted. This same concept applies to buildings and other structures. Structural engineers must be mindful of the foundation where the structure will be built. Foundations that are too fluid or too hard will lead to damage or collapse of the structure. Sufficient foundations should transfer the load into the ground, relieving the pressure from the bottom tier of the structure.

Tension and compression are two structural engineering concepts that can be observed in Jenga. According to the How Stuff Works website, compression is the “force applied when two objects are pushed together”, and tension is the “force applied when an object is pulled or stretched”. In Jenga, once a wooden piece is removed from the middle, it essentially becomes two columns with a beam across them. The beam experiences both tension from the from the columns below and compression from the pressure of the other blocks on top of the beam at the same time. When considering compression and tension, structural engineers must also consider what materials would have the appropriate tensile strength to effectively support the structure. Tensile strength is “the maximum force that can be applied to a material without pulling it apart”. Jenga uses wood for the pieces instead of rubber or a different material because it has the appropriate tensile strength and characteristics to support the tower structure for the game.

Rotational force can be found in the game of Jenga through the concept of maintaining rotational equilibrium. This is the idea that the taller the structure, the wider the supports at the bottom should be to reduce movement. In Jenga, once a bottom support is removed, leaving only a single piece rather than two, the tower becomes increasingly unbalanced and susceptible to falling due to small movements or changes in pressure. The same applies to buildings and other structures. If a tall structure relies on a narrow base, it will not be as stable as a tall structure that sits on a wide base.

Jenga also displays concepts that occur from earthquake forces, which is something that structural engineers need to consider if they are designing a structure in a seismically active area. When seismic activity occurs, structures can experience lateral and vertical vibrations, which could cause the structure to move. The stability of structures throughout seismic vibrations can be attributed to even weight distribution throughout the entire area. In Jenga, if you have more blocks toward the top of the tower and you bump the surface it sits on, the tower is more likely to move than if there were more blocks at the bottom rather than the top.

Next time you’re playing a game of Jenga, remember to look for these structural engineering concepts. If you have any questions or require any structural engineering services, contact Senior Structural Engineer Dan Sarata at (716) 592-3980, ext. 138 or dsarata@encorus.com.

If you want to play a lively game of Jenga, call Client Relationship Manager Mike O’Neill at (716) 592-3980, ext. 155 or moneill@encorus.com.

Welcome Radomir Pupovac

Welcome Radomir Pupovac

Join us in welcoming Radomir Pupovac to Encorus Group! Radomir is a recent graduate of State University of New York College at Buffalo where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering as well as a Bachelor’s in Math. He will be joining the Design Group as an Associate Electrical Engineer. Welcome, Radomir!