Congratulations, Andy Wiedemann!

Congratulations, Andy Wiedemann!

Please join us in congratulating Andrew J. Wiedemann for passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam in fire protection!
Andy, a graduate of Alfred State College, recently celebrated his tenth year with Encorus.  His successful completion of the exam demonstrates his knowledge and judgement in the application of science and engineering to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public from the impacts of fire.  As a Fire Protection Engineer, Andy’s responsibilities will include tasks such as the evaluation of hazards and protection schemes, design of fire detection, alarm, and suppression systems, and the review of work prepared by others.
The 8 hour PE Fire Protection Exam is administered only once each year by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), the national non-profit organization dedicated to advancing professional licensure for engineers and surveyors.

Fun Fact Friday: Control Systems Engineering

Fun Fact Friday: Control Systems Engineering

One of the lesser known services that Encorus Group offers is control systems engineering design. This discipline is relatively broad, so Senior Electrical Engineer Tom Gilmartin elaborates on when control systems engineering is widely used, which is in the manufacturing process.

A manufacturing process can be thought of as a lineup of equipment in a factory used to produce a product. The product can be anything, from orange juice to airplanes. The process usually includes equipment such as pumps, motors, fans, robots, conveyors, and the like. Typically, a process engineer designs how the system is to function, determining how much of which item (water, chemicals, parts, powder, etc.) has to move where in the system.

Once the process engineer has defined the process, mechanical and electrical engineers step in and design a system to perform the process. This might include sizing equipment, designing electrical feeds, laying out the process physically and fitting it into a building.

With the process defined, and the power and mechanical equipment selected, the controls engineer is called in to finalize the process. The controls engineer, with some help from others, selects instruments necessary to make measurements on the process, such as flow, pressure, temperature, etc. The controls engineer designs communications and wiring to allow all the instruments and devices to communicate to an industrial computer. The computer is programmed to run the process, and to monitor its operation. This often includes a “human machine interface” (HMI), typically a computer screen and keyboard, which provides a visual representation of what is happening in the process as it runs. Controls engineers will start up and test the process, adjusting programming as needed to produce the product correctly.

After the process is functional, it is turned over to plant personnel and run by plant operators. Normally the system will operate for 10 years or more, cranking out its intended product. Once the system begins to fail, the procedure of creating a new manufacturing process begins again.

If your company has a requirement for control systems engineering design, contact Director of Engineering Design Services Tom Gilmartin, PE, PMP, LEED AP, at (716) 592-3980 ext. 124, or at tgilmartin@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: Forensic Engineering

Fun Fact Friday: Forensic Engineering

Many people are familiar with the common types of engineering: civil, electrical, mechanical, environmental, structural, and so on. But one discipline that might not be so widely known is forensic engineering, also referred to as investigative engineering.

Forensic engineering can be anything that requires an investigation into the origin and cause of a structure or object’s malfunction. These investigations and subsequent engineering reports are conducted by licensed professional engineers. This type of engineering is more common than most people may think. Insurance companies often call upon professional engineers to investigate claims that people make for some type of damage to their house or building structure. Professional engineers are brought in to analyze the situation and determine if the insurance claim is legitimate, who should pay for the damage, and the possibility and scope of repair. Property owners, plant managers, and others may also request forensic engineering services

Weather-related events such as wind, ice, hail, and snow are frequently the cause of structural damage. Foundation shifting, roof damage, burst pipes, electrical malfunctions, and other structural and equipment issues can be subject to a forensic engineering investigation in order to determine the cause of damage. Fire origin investigations are also common in forensic engineering, in addition to the evaluation of the structural integrity of the building or area involved in the fire. Equipment failures or malfunctions can also be investigated.

Encorus Group has several licensed professional engineers on staff who have experience performing forensic investigations. If you are in need of forensic engineering services, call Tara Lowry at 716.592.3980, ext. 120 or email tlowry@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: Seismic Design

Fun Fact Friday: Seismic Design

During the design phase of a structure, there are certain loading conditions that engineers need to take into consideration. One of those loading conditions is seismic load, which is a dynamic load caused by the acceleration of the earth supporting the structure. Earthquakes can occur in any location at any time with increased activity near known fault lines. In fact, the Western New York area is located near a fault line, The Clarendon-Linden fault. This fault line is not expected to produce a major earthquake event; therefore, the area is generally considered a low seismic area.

Engineers use performance-based design to determine the seismic forces that would be applied externally to a structure and compare that load to other dynamic loads, such as wind forces. Performance based design requires structures to perform based on its purpose, occupants, location, and soil characteristics underneath. Engineers will look at ground motion response acceleration maps as part of the seismic load calculation. Seismic design is required for most designs, and there are very few exceptions in the International Building Code. Sometimes these exceptions in the code are overridden by state and local code requirements.

Building materials with high ductility such as steel and wood are often used to resist seismic forces. Ductile materials allow a structure to flex, absorbing and dissipating energy when subjected to sudden earthquake forces. Brick and concrete structures can be designed to resists seismic forces. However, ductility needs to be built into those structural systems. This is typically done with steel reinforcement.

Certain areas of the world require more consideration for seismic design. Higher seismic areas, such as the West Coast of the United States, require structural systems and connections to be seismically qualified. It is very important for an engineer to select a structural system that makes efficient and economic use of the materials chosen to keep the risks at a minimum.

If you or your company has any need for or questions about seismic design, contact Senior Structural Engineer Daniel Sarata at dsarata@encorus.com or (716) 592-3980 ext 138.

Fun Fact Friday: Shipping Container Evaluations

Fun Fact Friday: Shipping Container Evaluations

Encorus’s Structural Engineering department provides more than just structural designs. One of our many capabilities is shipping container evaluations. Our shipping container evaluations have been requested by both manufacturers and the end users. The typical contents of the shipping containers Encorus evaluated have been nuclear waste. This requires a robust ASME NQA-1 program to ensure safety. The containers can be fabricated from steel components and can be lined with reinforced concrete, lead, or other material. Container loads are not limited to just the weight of the container and its contents. Evaluations must take stacking loads and various impact loads into account. Minimum impact loads are dictated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and involve impacts from projectiles while stationary, and container drops from a certain height. The intent of applying these extreme loads is to ensure the structural integrity of the container, therefore maximizing safety to the public.

Encorus has experience in evaluating industrial package (IP-1), 7A Type A, specialty, and shielded containers. Industrial Packages (IP) are sub-divided into three categories designated as IP-1, IP-2 and IP-3, which differ regarding the degree to which they are required to withstand routine and normal conditions of transport. The required tests simulate normal transport conditions such as a fall from a vehicle, exposure to rain, being struck by a sharp object, or having other cargo stacked on top. Packages used in industry such as steel drums or bins could meet these various requirements, but purpose-designed packages are also frequently used. The choice depends on the characteristics of the material. Some typical materials transported in industrial packages are low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste, or ores containing naturally occurring radionuclides (e.g. uranium or thorium) and concentrates of such ores.

Type A packages are used for the transport of relatively small, but significant, quantities of radioactive material. Since it is assumed that this type of package theoretically could be damaged in a severe accident and that a portion of their contents may be released, the amount of radionuclides they can contain is limited by NRC regulations. In the event of a release, these limits ensure that the risks from external radiation or contamination are very low.

Type A packages are required to maintain their integrity during normal transport conditions and therefore are subjected to tests simulating these conditions. Type A packages are used to transport radioisotopes for medical diagnosis or teletherapy, technetium, generators used to assist in the diagnosis of certain cancers, and also for some nuclear fuel cycle materials.

If you require shipping container evaluations, please reach out to our Senior Structural Engineer, Dan Sarata, at (716) 592-3980 ext 138, or at dsarata@encorus.com.

Photo credit: SECUR LLC

Fun Fact Friday: Life Safety Code Evaluations and Assessments

Fun Fact Friday: Life Safety Code Evaluations and Assessments

We hear the term “life safety” often in the architectural and engineering world, but what does it mean to everyday people?

Life safety is all about protecting yourself and others through common sense and engineering design. That may seem like a broad subject to discuss, but think of it in terms of survival. Ask yourself this: if you and your family were at the beach and it said “shark infested waters”, would you go in the water? The same approach should be considered for buildings. The common sense part tells you if there is only one way out of a large building, don’t go in it.

Life safety codes and standards are the result of years of tragedy and disaster. Some may call them lessons learned, but historically, changes to how we design, build, and function in a building are the results of major events that have taken many lives. Even today, these types of tragedies occur simply because people aren’t aware of the hazards that exist in their surroundings.

Life safety impacts every type of structure including homes, office buildings, and industrial facilities. There are many aspects to life safety which most people do not understand, and that is the main reason we have codes and standards to provide us with the best and safest design.

Code evaluations are used in the design process to build or refurbish a building. The evaluation determines what the hazards are, what the fire severity risk is, and how to provide a safe environment should a fire occur. Factors that come in to play include:

• Heat and how fast it rises in temperature
• Smoke and how it travels
• Hazards of how fast they react to fire

Below are examples demonstrating how evaluations are applied:

1. A business with 200 employees requires a lot of space. First, the code looks at the classification of occupancy. From there, the size and shape of the building is considered. If the building is a single floor, exits must be provided so people have the choice of at least two directions to travel. The travel distance to an exit is also regulated, and is impacted by the fire severity factor. The higher that factor is, the faster the fire and smoke are assumed to travel. A business with a low severity factor can have travel distance up to 300 feet. In some cases with a high fire severity risk, the required maximum travel distance of 100 feet may require that more exits be installed in the building.

2. An industrial facility may have hazards which restrict the number of occupants and the travel distance. For example, a facility processing flammable liquids may be restricted to a travel distance of 50 feet, and require fire detection and suppression systems to be installed.

Life safety assessments are performed to ensure that the original design features still provide the level of protection designed for that building. Many times, a commercial building will change ownership and with the change, new hazards will be introduced. How will these changes impact life safety? Have new walls gone up that block an exit or extend the travel distance past the allowable limit? Anyone that owns a business should make it a point to assess their property every year. Sometimes the simplest things can have a major impact on life safety.

To make you think more about life safety in your home, here are some questions to consider:

1. How hot can the ceiling temperature in a living room get when a fire occurs?
A. 100° F
B. 600° F
C. 1500° F

2. How much time do you have to escape a house fire?
A. 17 minutes
B. 3 to 4 minutes
C. 30 minutes

3. Where can you safely store a can of gasoline?
A. In your basement
B. In your garage
C. In your he or she shed

4. How do you put of a kitchen stove top pan fire?
A. Throw water on it
B. Put a lid on the pan
C. Carry the pan outside

If you have any questions about life safety or require a life safety code evaluation or assessment, please contact Encorus Group’s Fire Protection Engineer John Allan at (716) 592-3980, ext. 127, or jallan@encorus.com.

The answers to the above questions are: 1. C, 2. B, 3. C, 4. B