David C. Young, P.E.

Engineering Consultant

Material Testing:

Inspection and testing of construction materials to insure compliance with purchasing specifications and industry standards

One of the most important options available to utilities when purchasing construction materials is quality. A significant cause of outages to utility customers is material failure due to poor quality. To insure material quality, the purchasing specifications must detail the performance characteristics of the material and the utility must perform periodic testing to check that performance. Just because a manufacturer made samples in full compliance with a purchasing specification or they promise to meet the purchasing specification, doesn't mean that they will do so on every shipment. Over the past twenty-three years, Mr. Young has investigated hundreds of material failures that were caused by manufacturing errors. One of the ways utilities can insure quality is through periodic inspection and testing. The following is a list of some of the testing Mr. Young has performed over the past twenty-three years. In each case, Mr. Young developed the test protocol; in some cases designed the test equipment, purchased, constructed or directed the construction of the test facility, directed the testing and developed the test report.

  • Testing of 600 volt aerial triplex conductor in a controlled environment to determine maximum operating temperature
  • High current testing of connectors to check ampacity
  • High voltage testing of lightning arresters to determine normal leakage current levels and operating temperatures to identify partially damaged arresters
  • High voltage testing of insulators to identify failed or contaminated insulators
  • High voltage testing of elbows, feed-throughs, insulators, fuse cutouts, switchgear and capacitors which had been removed from service
  • Fault current testing of high voltage expulsion fuses under low and high available fault current conditions to determine hazards associated with the expelled material
  • Fault current withstand testing of electric meters, meter sockets and surge suppression devices
  • Sustained over-voltage testing of surge suppression devices
  • Ground resistance testing of driven ground rods to determine how deep ground rods should be installed
  • Soil strength testing to determine guy anchor holding power
  • Testing of street light bulbs to check quality
  • Testing of street light photo-controls to determine turn-on and turn-off characteristics
  • Accelerated life testing of street light photo-controls to determine which manufacturers products last the longest
  • Field testing of safety signs, labels and tags to determine which manufacturers products lasts the longest
  • Coastal environment testing of metal enclosures, street lights, and insulators to determine which manufacturers products lasts the longest
  • Breaking strength testing of automatic line splices
  • Breaking strength testing of steel dead-end cross-arms to insure purchasing specification compliance
  • Breaking strength testing of strain insulators to insure purchasing specification compliance
  • Integrity testing of electric meter sockets when locked with various security devices
  • Accuracy testing of current and voltage instrument transformers to check manufacturer's testing
  • No-load and fill-load loss testing of single and three-phase distribution transformers to check manufacturer's claims
  • Torque testing of meter socket set-screw connectors
  • Static load testing of transformer pads
  • Testing of a distribution transformer to determine secondary voltage when energized at four times normal primary voltage

Construction material failure analysis

The following are some of the steps Mr. Young may take in construction material failure analysis:

  • Examining the failed material
  • Determination of the conditions under which the material failed
  • Verifying what failed
  • Checking failure history for similar failures
  • Contacting the manufacturer to see if this has happened before
  • Returning the unit to the manufacturer for their analysis
  • Testing of shelf units to see if they have the same problem
  • Calculation of the failure rate based upon the number and age of units in the field
  • Determination of the safety, reliability and financial impact of not correcting/replacing the defective units
  • Determination of the cost to replace or correct the defective units
  • Determination of the manufacturer's contribution to correction/replacement
  • Determination of what action should be recommended to upper management
  • Making a permanent record of the failure, investigation and action