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Australian company moves into forensic engineering

article image Forensic engineering can unearth the cause of incidents

Forensic engineering specialist Soto Consulting has expanded its resources to provide private and public companies with a specialised service that can determine causes of equipment failure.

Working with WorkCover authorities and police investigators as a forensic specialist, Soto Consulting helps investigate equipment failure, system or structure collapse, and explosions or fire events, and identifies the cause of these incidents.

Soto Consulting Managing Director, Mr Frank Soto explains that the process is quite similar to investigative policing, but from an engineering perspective to determine the cause of failure that may have resulted in serious injury or death, or to expose potential problems ahead of operation to ensure dangers and risk are identified.

Defined as post- or pre-failure analysis often for litigation support, forensic engineering aims to accurately identify the sequence of events leading to ultimate failure or injury to personnel or the public.

Soto Consulting has in-house expertise and virtual analysis tools to conduct probability balances, dimensional checks or detailed computerised analysis to determine if the equipment in question was being used in a way not intended by the original designer. According to Mr Soto, they are brought in as technical experts to review and model potential causes of failure in the plant, equipment and systems.

Soto experts carry out comprehensive checks to analyse if equipment was being used and maintained as indicated. They also determine if design changes made to machinery or equipment correspond to proprietary design control methods, and then document whether modified equipment performed in a safe manner to protect the public and operator from risk.

Regardless of whether the principal investigating body is a WorkCover division, insurance company or the police, Soto Consulting is responsible for identifying the root cause of an incident, which can be extremely challenging, especially when they are often left with a molten mass, collapsed structure or a serious injury or incident that will require the SOTO forensic team to find the one event in a series that resulted in the critical failure or injury.

Soto engineers are also called in as expert witnesses for insurance companies or litigants, with an arbitrary or judicial outcome strongly evolving around findings from forensic engineering.

Mr Soto says that a successful outcome in any forensic engineering exercise depends on the expert looking through all the evidence and conducting an engineering analysis using proven analytical methods founded on engineering principles and advanced analysis simulations. A key objective in forensic engineering is to determine if owners and operators deviated in any way from OEM operating procedures and maintenance requirements.

He adds that forensic engineering is a skill developed through years of disciplined training and experience in working with other investigative authorities and technical specialists.

Staffed by Principal and Senior Consultants highly experienced in all facets of complex investigations, SOTO prepares detailed analytical reports in support of litigation matters. A fully referenced technical forensic report, including analysis, simulation, diagrams, images and other supporting materials is provided. Litigation support includes continued technical liaison support, formulation of answers to interrogatories and assistance in the lead-up to a hearing.

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