Failure analysis or investigation is the process of collecting and analysing facts or data to determine the root cause of a failure. This involves collecting data about operating conditions, visual examination of the failed product or component, fractography, non-destructive testing, evaluation of mechanical and chemical properties, metallography-microscopy, spectroscopy, analysis of the facts and findings, root cause conclusion and recommendations to prevent the failure from recurring.

This process is very vital for heavy industries to prevent failure of affordable and unaffordable components which can cost loss of production in thousands and millions of dollars or injuring person or community.

The process of identifying the root cause and implementing preventive actions reduces the risk of injuries, reduces the downtime and increases productivity in the mining industries, offshore and shipping industry and heavy engineering industries.

Most of the quality endorsed organisations and insurance companies ensure that failure investigations are performed to reduce the risk of failure in future.

Cracking at sulphide inclusion around 5000X

The image is a high magnification (around 5000X) Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image of a stainless steel fatigue fracture. The micrograph revealed various cracks through rounded voids. These were determined to be the former location of sulphide inclusions that were dissipated as a result of loose bonding with the metal matrix. The geometry of the inclusions provided a stress-concentration, leading to the fatigue micro-cracks that can be observed in the image.
The image was taken as part of a failure investigation that revealed that the fracture was due to inappropriate material selection in which the presence of sulphide inclusions in the steel contributed to cyclic fatigue failure. By revealing the cause of failure, LMATS investigation allowed corrections to be made, preventing any costly future failures.

LMATS comprises a team of Metallurgist, Engineers, Scientist, Engineering Technologist and Non-destructive Testing Technologist. The combination of these professionals from different speciality ensures that the most probable root cause is concluded and the best preventive measures are recommended.

LMATS offers Failure investigation services from our Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth laboratories. These laboratories also provide services to the clients in Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory and New Zealand.

Following is an example of one of many LMATS failure investigations. This is a classic thermal fatigue failure.

Thermal Fatigue failure