Failure analysis, schadenfreude, and Schadenspiegel

Munich Reinsurance (www.munichre.com) posts large Acrobat files of their newsletter, Schadenspiegel (Losses and Loss Prevention) on their
web site. It should be called schadenfreude (shameful joy, or pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune), because it has descriptions of their interesting cases. A few of these are failure analyses. Many are just big disasters that are truly weird.
The latest issue, 2004/2 has an article titled "water damage mystery solved" about a corrosion failure in a flow controller. However, it also has "City refuse collectors' strike turns residents into arsonists - Conflagration in a car spares warehouse". It happened in Tel Aviv. The annoyed but still resourceful residents set fire to several waste bins to get rid of the stinking refuse. Unfortunately, one bin was leaned against the wall of an auto parts warehouse which had an inadequate fire and smoke detector system. The building burned for three days till it was a total loss.
Have a look at the 2nd issue for 2002. There is an article titled "United Kingdom: Largest Motor Vehicle Claim of All Time". All it took to get the carnage started for a 50 million Euro loss was one very sleepy driver (curiously named Gary Hart). Mr. Hart was in a Land Rover towing a Renault on a trailer. The bad news was that he fell asleep at the wheel. The good news was that he wasn't injured when he went off the road. The bad news was that the front of the vehicle wound up on one of two main rail lines from London to Scotland. The good news was that he had a mobile phone and tried to call emergency services. The bad news was that he was too late, and a passenger train struck the Land Rover at 200 km/h. The good news was that the train stayed upright. The bad news was that it derailed and collided with an oncoming freight train loaded with 1000 tons of coal, at a closing speed of 200 km/h. The bad news was that ten people on the passenger train were killed and 76 passengers were taken to hospital. The good news was that the locomotive from the passenger train was salvageable. The bad news was that the police retrieved the pieces of the Land Rover, found no mechanical faults and prosecuted the driver. The good news was that he was found guilty on ten counts of causing death by dangerous driving and won't be out of prison for at least five years.
Pittsburgh Pete ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
DISCLAIMER We don't believe what we write, and neither should you. Information furnished to you is for topical (external) use only. This information may not be worth any more than either a groundhog turd, or what you paid for it (nothing). The author may not even have been either sane or sober when he wrote it down. Don't worry, be happy.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

--
While the driver can be argued to be culpable, there were weaknesses in the prosecution case. He probably did not help himself by trying to cover up his actions.
What about the designers of the motorway bridge over the railway line. They failed to provide a barrier to stop vehicles falling onto the line. I believe there was a report many years ago warning of this risk, and I also believe several cars a year end up on the railway tracks. They have put barriers down the middle of the road to prevent cars crossing to the opposite side, and strengthened bridges to prevent vehicles causing bridges over a road to collapse by crashing into them, but the authorities responsible for the roads have not bothered to provide proper barriers at bridges. This is still the case on most bridges.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.