Mechanical Engineering


McDowell Owens mechanical engineers have an intimate understanding of mechanical systems and their components, as well as, years of hands-on experience investigating and analyzing failures in mechanical systems.

Our highly trained and educated experts determine the how and why of what caused the mechanical system to fail. Our engineers provide answers. Understanding what happened and piecing together the facts is what we do.

Since mechanical engineering is a broad field that encompasses anything that moves, our specialists have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to investigate failures that involve:

  • Design and operation of mechanical systems
  • Simple machinery and equipment
  • Material Evaluations – analysis of metals, rubber, wood, plastics, glass, and composites
  • Original component design versus regulations
  • Application or use of product at time of failure
  • Product analysis- determines if a recurring or a unique issue
  • Heat transfer issues
  • Man Lift Accidents
  • Fall Analysis
  • People Mover investigations and analysis

McDowell Owens has investigated and issued reports on many different types of mechanical systems that include but are not limited to:

  • Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) equipment and appliances
  • Industrial machinery
  • HVAC systems
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisonings
  • Heavy equipment
  • Vehicle fires and failures

Specialized Mechanical Failure Analysis Services include:

Our mechanical testing ranges from component and equipment failures to flammable and combustible gases and their storage and delivery systems.

Extensive experience with gas systems includes but is not limited to:

  • Analysis of gas delivery systems and their components
  • Analytical and empirical flow testing of pipe systems
  • Air exchange and gas accumulation rates and their location in existing or modeled structures, with various gas concentrations and leak rates

Investigations also may involve tear down and analysis of failed components or the analysis and testing of combustion systems for proper combustion and/or production of carbon monoxide (CO) within the structure.

Man lifts are portable equipment with movable pieces that is designed to elevate people vertically, and some have the capability to move horizontally at the same time.

Man lifts pose unique hazards unrelated to elevators and escalators. Man lifts can be hazardous, if not operated properly or without the proper safety equipment. For example, contact with overhead electrical lines poses the risk of electrocution or the operator could be knocked off the lift from the force of contact with obstructions.

Whatever mechanical device is involved in the incident, the cause is possibly rooted in a complex interaction of physical conditions and human error.  The engineers at McDowell Owens analyze the incident and complex contributing factors in order to present a clear and easily understood finding.

People slip, trip and fall on a regular basis – McDowell Owens experts will investigate, put the puzzle pieces together, and answer several questions including: How did the fall occur? Who is to blame? Was it the person’s carelessness or lack of attention to where they were going? Or were there other factors that led to or contributed to the incident?

Unfortunately, falls can occur anywhere and everywhere including at home, at work, or at a public place. Many times, people slip, trip, and fall on stairs and on floors.  There are many contributing factors including but not limited to: inadequate warning of a hazardous condition, such as wet floors or recently waxed floors, torn, bulging areas or uplifted corners of carpet, and protrusions or irregularities in the floor such as receptacles or transitions.  When the incident involves stairs, additional factors may cause a person to slip or trip include missing, loose or improperly installed handrails, debris or even the design of the steps.

Slip, trip and fall incidents occur outdoors as well; however, other external factors may contribute to the incident, such as ice or snow, water, inadequate lighting and improperly marked curbs and ramps.

In addition to the physical conditions of the surface and location, analysis of the incident is compounded with human interaction. Was the person carrying items that obstructed their view? Were they talking on their cell phone and not paying attention to where they were going?

The engineers at McDowell Owens analyze the location of the incident, all the contributing factors and human interaction that may have led to the incident, in order to clearly explain what happened and why.

Human Transportation Movers Accident & Failure Analysis

Elevators, escalators, man lifts, and moving sidewalks – all these mechanical devices are designed to move people from one point to another. Whether traveling from one floor to another or to access things beyond our normal range of reach, people often rely on such mechanical devices to get us there.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that over 17,000 people are injured and approximately 30 deaths occur each year in the United States on elevators and escalators.  The injuries range in severity from abrasions and bruises to de-gloving and complete amputations of appendages to death.

Elevator & Platform Accident Analysis

The experts at McDowell Owens are able to determine liability in incidents where individuals are in elevators or on platforms that collapse, incidents where counterweights or other moving parts strikes workers and incidents where individuals are electrocuted.

Safety and fall protection equipment can also be an issue, not only for workers in elevator shafts, but also for operators and occupants of man lifts.

Mechanical components and devices may be examined and tested at our facilities in Houston. We also have access to a Fire Testing and Research Center, if necessary to determine modes of failure, as well as compliance with applicable regulatory codes and industry standards.