Engineering Integrity Society

a unique way for engineers in industry to exchange ideas and experience

60 Seconds with Bill Eccles

60 Second Spotlight on Rob Cherry, IAAPS Bill Eccles, Bolt Science

Ahead of the Bolted Joints: Insights, Failures & Solutions Seminar taking place on 8 February 2024 we caught up with Bill Eccles to hear his thoughts on the topic

Please briefly explain your current role and involvement with bolted joints.

I have had a 40+ year interest in bolting and I remain fascinated by the subject. Interested in developing and improving standards, software analysis using the BOLTCALC software, training on the technical aspects of bolting and torque-tension testing. Add to this consultancy work solving bolting problems, and Iā€™m keeping busy.

What changes have you seen in bolted joint technology over the past 5 years?

Maybe over a longer period of time, but the recognition of the importance of standards in ensuring a reliable product. The importance of consistently achieving the correct preload and how this can be verified.

What are some common challenges engineers face in your specific area of expertise and how will your presentation address these?

In many instances when problems and failures occur, it can be difficult to establish the root causes of the problem because of the complexity of the joint, the loading conditions and the lack of information that is frequent issue. I hope that my presentation will provide clarity of purpose on what are the crucial aspects to consider when a bolted joint analysis is undertaken whether for a failure analysis or a new design.

What do you see as the key priorities for engineers working with bolted joints?

To have clarity and understanding on how the mechanics of a bolted joint works and the importance of achieving a consistent bolt preload and how the likely failure mechanisms can be prevented.

The presenters at the EIS seminar work in a variety of different sectors. What are the benefits of sharing bolted joint knowledge and approaches across different industries?

In my experience it has frequently been the case that people working in one industry can see no other way of working or completing some aspect of the work that is routine in another industry sector. Sharing approaches and experience across industry sectors can bring rapid advances to the companies that are prepared that there is often more than one way of achieving a successful bolted joint.

In light of technological advancements and industry changes, how do you foresee the future of bolted joint technology evolving?

More analysis in small to medium sized companies to prove, or otherwise, the integrity of a bolted joint at the design stage. This coupled with the greater appreciation of the importance of controlling the fastener friction by the use of engineered coating will improve the reliability of joints. We have the knowledge now on how to solve bolting problems, but there is a gulf between what is known about bolted joints when compared with what the average engineer knows. In the longer term, artificial general intelligence will make inroads to this knowledge issue but not I think in my lifetime.

What will you be presenting at the EIS seminar and how will this benefit participants?

The key importance of bolt preload which is the frequent root cause of bolted joint failures. Most people think in terms of images rather than equations, the Preload Requirement Chart approach that I will be presenting graphically illustrates a successful bolted joint from one in which problems can be anticipated. This is core knowledge on how a failure analysis can be completed as well as the analysis of a new design.

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