The Case of the Frozen Fertilizer
Testing under real-world conditions trumps lofty theory every time. A truck driver falsely accused is vindicated by precise testing that indeed shows that Truth is in the Details.
A damaged valve at an agricultural facility caused two different 1 million gallon tanks of liquid fertilizer to mix, resulting in a large scale loss. It was claimed that a 3rd-party truck driver forced open a frozen valve during winter delivery of liquid fertilizer, thus twisting the valve stem and leaving the valve permanently half open whether the handle was in the fully open or fully closed position.
TI was requested to determine the cause of the damage to the valve. TI obtained samples of the two liquid fertilizers and proceeded to fabricate a glass quick-test fixture so that the freeze characteristics of the fertilizers could be observed. Each fertilizer and the unintentional mix of the two was tested. Based on preliminary findings that neither the fertilizers nor the blend would freeze solid in temperatures recorded during the relevant time period, TI installed the actual valve in a glass test fixture so that the results could be recorded by photography and videography.
Tests were conducted at the temperature present at the time of delivery as well as significantly colder. TI conclusively proved that, while the fertilizer largely crystalized, the crystals were loose and the valve operated normally and without difficulty. Neither fertilizer nor the blend solidified at a temperature anywhere near the coldest temperature recorded during the relevant time period. Thus, the delivery driver and his employer were cleared of any responsibility for the loss.