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RE: STANDARD PRACTICE

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>Would you have us believe that formal
>calculation submittals and plan checks actually lead to better engineering
>practice?  Do you have any proof of that?

I think William LeMessurier's error in the Citicorp wind load analysis 
for the skyscraper design was caught by someone reviewing his original 
design. And I daresay that the deficiency in the Hyatt-Regency skywalks 
would have been caught sooner had the calculations been formalized in a 
report.

Submittals are much more the rule than the exception here on the dark 
side, because they're used in customer design reviews .My own experience 
is that formal submittals make the design intent a good deal more 
apparent. I've also found that simply organizing results for a formal 
submittal is a good check for internal consistency. Building construction 
may be a lot different than mechanical design, but I'd find it damn near 
impossible to review a design for adequacy simply from the drawings--it'd 
take forever, for one thing, and for another, if I did happen to find 
something that didn't fit, it'd take just that much longer to figure out 
who was wrong without the original design basis. 

And when I'm doing any testimony where design is an issue, the first 
thing I want to see are calculation summaries so I can determine design 
intent. They're also very helpful is determining whether the designer was 
being systematic or just hipshooting. That said, most of that sort of 
thing mysteriously disappears before a deposition, so I don't get my wish 
very often, but I think a design report is as much a record of the 
designer's intent as drawings. I don't think I'm flattering myself too 
much to say that I can get a pretty good idea of the care taken with a 
design from the records in the engineering file.

Of course I've also seen where a formal submittal really is a lot of 
bureaucratic nonsense. I'm working on one now where machinery trials are 
being held up for lack of a few pieces of paper. 

Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)
http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw


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