$63 M Award in Litigation over a Newly Constructed Collapsed Paper Rack Storage Facility

Investigation of Collapsed Rack Structure - Facility picture
Investigation of Collapsed Rack Structure - Facility picture
Rack Structure
Image of Unzipped Welded Beam
Failed Welded 4x4 Beam
Investigation of Failed Rack - FEA Model of Rack Structure
Section of FEA Model of Rack Structure
Investigation of Failed Rack Structure - FEA Model of Welded Beam
FEA Model of Welded Beam

Longer than two football fields and 80 feet wide, a large steel paper rack storage facility was constructed with 110 foot tall hollow steel columns to hold over 100 million pounds of pallets of paper products. After two months in service, the automated facility collapsed and sparked a fire that burned over three weeks. We were asked to perform a forensic investigation of the collapse.

Non-destructive evaluations including visual, ultrasonic (UT) and radiographic techniques were used to assess the condition of the structural square tubes and to assist in the selection of specimens for defect evaluation. All of the damaged tubes submitted for evaluation exhibited extensive linear weld seam tears in deformed regions.

We also performed finite element analysis on individual beams, as well as a segment of the entire rack structure.

Contributing factors of the failure included the design and the quality of electric resistance-welded HSS tubes. The failure mode was determined to be flexural torsional buckling of the 4″ x 4″ welded steel HSS columns. The result of the litigation was $63 M in favor of our client. Read about it here. (PDF)


O’Donnell Consulting Engineers has Assisted in Numerous Forensic Investigations involving Product Liability, Fire/ Explosions and Structural Failures.

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