Independent Design Assessment

ATA has over twenty years of design experience in analyzing and assessing factors of safety for complex mechanical and structural systems. Product designs we have supported range from aerospace vehicles to entertainment rides to public art installations.

Our level of involvement during independent verification and validation (IV&V) of designs varies from detailed review of customer-generated structural documentation, drawings, or analysis reports to completely independent development of loads, environments, and analyses for comparison to the already existing documentation.

We have registered professional engineers (PEs) on staff that are capable of stamping design review documents and submitting to the appropriate reviewing organization. Our extensive structural analysis experience allows ATA to make the most cost effective design improvements, if needed.

General Independent Design Assessment Overview

ATA performs independent design reviews for a broad range of clients in many industries. The scope of these reviews ranges from quick preliminary analyses to help with early concept development to formal reviews of completed structural and mechanical designs that require approval by a controlling agency. ATA is able to adapt our review process to suit the particular situation we are dealing with. In all cases our design and analytical skills are used to best advantage so that we are able to generate engineering insight and a meaningful assessment of the structure being considered.

Critical Issues Pertaining to Successful Design Review

Design intent – Without a good understanding of the design intent the review is done in a vacuum and may well lead to inappropriate conclusions and recommendations. For example, it is important for the reviewer to know that the structure will support a sensitive piece of equipment where very small deflections could be problematic, while in another design the structure must only survive extreme one-off loads without collapsing. A clear understanding of such issues up front will lead to a focused and successful review effort.

Design specifications – In some applications the design review must be done in the context of a statutory set of requirements. In other, perhaps more common situations, the review must be done using specifications chosen by the design team. ATA is very familiar with military and commercial specifications that are applicable in most of these situations and can make recommendations as required. Our knowledge extends to European and other international specifications.

Environmental conditions – The loads for which the system should be checked can often be rather ambiguous. This applies to both mechanical and thermal loading. On the mechanical side the possibility exists that the loads may be time-varying which will lead to the inevitable question of static versus dynamic analysis. This is an area where ATA can provide considerable insight based on its extensive related experiences. In some critical cases the evaluation of the loads becomes so critical that a test is needed to quantify them reliably. ATA’s testing experience is used to good advantage in these situations. Of course, there are many situations where the loads are defined by the design specification and we are experienced in the interpretation and application of such loads across many industries.

Appropriate analysis tools – Once the design review requirements become understood the choice of analysis tools becomes simple. We have a broad range of capabilities at our disposal and we are able to select the most appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Note that in our design-centric approach to structural review the analysis tool is selected after the review requirements become fully understood. Our computer-based analytical heritage guarantees a highly reliable analysis no matter how complex the system under investigation.

Material selection – A good understanding of material behavior is a corner-stone to a meaningful design review. Knowing the sensitivity of particular materials to various failure modes is obviously important in identifying metrics in the structural review. This is critical in both metallic and composite designs.

Manufacturing considerations – Manufacturing issues are closely related to material selection in criticality for the success of a design. One relevant and noteworthy area is welding of metallic structures. ATA has an extensive history of providing assistance to clients to ensure the long-term durability of dynamically loaded welded structures. We are familiar with virtually all internationally-recognized design specifications relating to the fatigue performance of welded structures. If we find the design inadequate in this regard we are generally able to identify a design change that overcomes the expected deficiency.

Documentation – The final step in the review process is the development of a comprehensive report that documents the entire review process in sufficient depth to stand up to scrutiny by the most demanding agencies. Less formal reports may be selected on a case-by-case basis as required by the client.