Engineering Detective Work Leads to Award

Our very own senior materials engineer; Steve Woodward recently featured in The Northern Echo for his investigation into a mysterious spate of failures in the chemicals industry which led to him winning a prestigious award.

Steve(pictured right) wrote a paper for the Cleveland Institution of Engineers (CIE) after spotting a series of unusual failures in high strength lifting chains used by firms in the chemical industry.

Steve explained: “Although cracks in chains are not uncommon, what is unusual is the frequency and number of failures recently. We have seen problems in Teesside, Humberside and Scotland in a very short space of time.”

Steve’s paper about the investigation – entitled The Weakest Link – has won him the 2015 CIE prize and a £400 cash reward.

Sue Parker, the CIE’s technical events officer, explained: “Every year we invite people to submit a written paper on an area of scientific interest for judging. The winner must demonstrate a thorough grasp of their subject and their paper must be of relevance to the area and well written.”

This year’s judges were Dr Graham Hiller, the director responsible for strategy and futures at the Teesside Centre for Process Innovation, Dr Chris Beck, strategic funding manager at TWI, in Stockton, and Vince Ludlow, formerly a principal researcher and knowledge group leader for Tata Steel.

 Steve said that he was both surprised and honoured to have won first prize and hopes that his article will prompt lively debate and encourage end users to delve more deeply into their supply chain.

He also hopes that his work may rekindle metallurgical interest within the HSE, which has investigated similar failures in the past.

Read the full story on The Northern Echo here