Materials Blog
The sushi conveyor analogy Print E-mail
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sushiTightly organised in a neat suit, that’s the least you can say about the many delightful types of sushi Japan has brought to the rest of the world. The tight organisation is illustrated by the specific sequence of ingredients by which each sushi has to be built up. The neat suit is represented by the freshness of the ingredients and the stately view emerging from a usually mouth fitting dish.     

Tightly organised and in a neat suit are also the mass of Japanese who brave on a daily base the morning and evening rush in the well organised traffic of Tokio, Kobe or other Japanese metropolis. If you didn’t experience it live, I’m quite sure that news or other media already bombarded your retinas with images of Japanse metros that always seem to be overcrowded, yet being always sharp on time as well. An example of efficient mass transport.

And then when you’re visiting certain Japanese restaurants, you have the combination of both. Sushi that are transported on a conveyor belt, nicely aligned, ‘whether or not en masse’ reaching the hungry stomachs. You probably didn’t realise it, yet the speed and frequency with which your favorite colorful bite is reaching your hungry you is dependent on the time at which you enter the restaurant. Do you arrive at the start of a ‘service’ – as we have to say it nowadays – or almost at the end, another culinary experience will be your share. 

Scenario 1: You arrive at the start of the service. The cooks – obviously also tightly dressed in their white costume – are placing the 20 different types of sushi on the conveyor belt, one by one. It looks like a bead necklace where the differently colored beads follow-up each other in the same color-order over and over again. Is someone taking your favorite sushi from the belt right in front of your nose? It’s no problem, as very soon afterwards that specific sushi’s lookalike will follow, allowing you to nibble it right away. If you arrive at the start of the service you will not at all have to wait a longtime for the precious gem you’re craving for. Sushi pass en masse your nose and there will be no moment at which the mass transport will let your appetite wait, even not if you’re permanently longing for your favorite little dish. 

Scenario 2: You arrive quite late in the service. The cooks – still in tight suit, yet possibly with some colorful culinary stains on sparkling white – suffer a little as they see that the number of visitors is already diminishing quite a bit. Hence the conveyor belt is not fully covered with sushi anymore. The cooks are already producing less of those Japanese bites you’re longing for, such avoiding that too much of them would end up their life in the garbage bin. You notice that the situation will be even more complex: 5 out of the 20 sushi are not in favor of the diners that day, so relatively spoken the cooks are making even less of them compared to the other types of sushi. And then you’re of course that one diner with those taste buds that bring you to culinary heaven when you’re eating one of those 5. And to crown it all, there’s also that one specific person that’s sitting at a table that – taking into account the direction of movement of the belt – is nourished before you. Exactly that person that seems to have the same palate that you have, hence that one person that walks with your favorite snack.

Given the late arrival you’re hungry as a bear, yet exactly at that moment the fulfillment of your appetite is hindered by another mass transport regime than the one you would have enjoyed when you would have put your legs under the table one hour before.     

Aside from bringing culinary pleasures and the joy of companionship a delightful diner also starts up a chain of chemical processes in our body. Part of these processes bring you gradually to the glorious feeling of saturation. When you arrive early, your favorite bites may quite rapidly bring you to that state of ‘I’m full’. When you arrive late, than it will take some more time before the feeling of saturation rejoices you, even more if you’re always going to wait for that one out of those five from twenty.

When you arrive early, reaching the state of saturation will not be controlled by the quantity and frequency of the different sushi that pass your table. When you arrive late, you’ll have to wait and reaching your vibe of saturation will be controlled by the quantity and frequency of that one type of sushi that makes your mouth water and makes you longing for ‘one more of the same’.

When you arrive early, the chemical processes that lead to saturation are not controlled by the sushi mass transport. When you arrive late, it will only be through sushi mass transport controlled processes that you will arrive at the my-stomach-is-full feeling.

It’s the same with many chemical reactions. An example: The risk of intergranular corrosion of stainless steels is largely influenced by whether the diffusion of chromium atoms through the steel structure is mass transport controlled or not. A chromium mass transport controlled situation can e.g. lead to so-called ‘sensitisation’ in the heat affected zone (HAZ) of a weld. If the HAZ of a stainless steel weld is sensitised, the risk of intergranular corrosion rises considerably from the moment water or another electrolyte would come into contact with the sensitised area.

Do you want to learn more on corrosion, welding and/or their mutual relation? Just send me a LinkedIn message. WELCOME !

To conclude

In all industrial and societal sectors many processes are mass transport controlled. Energy production, pharmacy, biology, food production and consumption (hurray to sushi and also more and more Spanish tapas on a transport belt) and, not to forget, transport. The latter is not only about metro systems in Japan, yet also about ...

When driving by car or by train runs smoothly without delay, no mass transport controlled process is nibbling from your valuable time.

Trapped in slow traffic or a traffic jam? Then you’re suffering from a mass transport controlled transportation process.

To finalise a tip for your weekend or holidays: When you go to amusement parks, choose those attractions where there’s (almost) no mass transport controlled shuffling in the waiting line, unless queuing is one of your hobbies.  

Have fun !

Cyclists battle for the first Honorary Materials Consult price Print E-mail
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While the Champs-Elysées in Paris formed the arena for the final of the Tour de France 2017, senior and amateur cyclists were competing in the Malendriesstraat of Boutersem. Hundred forty cyclists, subdivided in 4 categories, battled for the honor to win the very first Honorary Materials Consult price, being part of the yearly memorial Francis Tuerlinckx.

To win the honorary price seniors C/D/E and amateurs had to overcome respectively 13 and 16 rounds on a beautiful street course with 2 challenging climbs, start and finish at the front door of Materials Consult.

In the seniors C category Koen Heremans could put his feet on the highest stage, while Kurt Van Goidsenhoven and VItal Pauwels crossed the line as second and third. Wim Van Uffel took victory in the seniors D category, with Eric Maillard en Robert Van de Kerkhof being second and third. Martin Durant did win the seniors E category and René Van Gils and Roland Degeest zoomed over the finish line as respectively second and third. In the final race the Honorary Materials Consult price for the amateurs was catched by Pepijn Verbruggen, Nick De Weerdt and Marnix Michiels celebrating their second and third place. Marie-Louise Verbiest and Patrick Tuerlinckx, inspirers of the Memorial Francis Tuerlinkcx, Sarah Boon, major of the city of
Boutersem and Frans Vos, General Manager of Materials Consult, were joining the stage.

That evening Chris Froome celebrated his victory in the Tour de France 2017. In Boutersem less known, yet as motivated cyclists battled for the Honorary Price Materials Consult. CONGRATULATIONS  to all. 

Ereprijs Materials Consult 2017 - podium senioren C

Seniors C stage: Koen Heremans (1st), Kurt van Goidsenhoven (2nd), Vital Pauwels (3rd)


Ereprijs Materials Consult 2017 - podium senioren D

Seniors D stage: Wim Van Uffel (1st), Eric Maillard (2nd), Robert Van de Kerkhof (3rd)


Ereprijs Materials Consult 2017 - podium senioren E

Seniors E stage: Martin Durant (1st), René Van Gils (2nd), Roland Degeest (3rd, not on the stage)


Ereprijs Materials Consult 2017 - podium liefhebbers

Amateurs stage: Pepijn Verbruggen (1st), Nick De Weerdt (2nd), Marnix Michiels (3rd) 

Materials Consult stapt in het wielerpeloton Print E-mail
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Terwijl Wout van Aert en Mathieu van der Poel een titanenstrijd voeren in het veldrijden, start het wielerseizoen 2017 op zijn beurt vol energie.

Een nieuw seizoen betekent ook nieuwe sponsors. Materials Consult is verheugd om vanaf 2017 als shirtsponsor mee zijn schouders onder Wielerteam ‘Boutersem Sportief’ te kunnen zetten. De leden van Boutersem Sportief nemen in België en ver daarbuiten deel aan competitiewedstrijden voor liefhebbers of maken deel uit van het team wielertoeristen.

En ook het ‘Cannibal Team’ mag vanaf dit seizoen op onze sponsoring rekenen. Het logo van Materials Consult siert vanaf nu de wieleroutfits van hun elites zonder contract. Het Cannibal team kent ook een uitgebreide en internationaal actieve jeugdwerking, met alvast de kersverse Belgisch aspirantenkampioene in hun rangen; een grote proficiat! Sportieve en dus gezonde jeugd verdient onze volle steun.

Materials Consult is als materiaalkundig expertisebureau reeds verschillende jaren actief in de wereld van de fietsrecreatie. Adviezen i.v.m. het lassen van aluminiumfietsframes, schade-analyse van carbonkaders en materiaalanalyse van zadelpennen zijn slechts enkele voorbeelden van de diensten die Materials Consult reeds heeft verleend aan de wielerwereld.


DSCN5632  DSCN5637

De enthousiaste en gemotiveerde renners van Boutersem Sportief                            Materials Consult op shirt en pet


Quality is not about patriotism Print E-mail
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A picture of a cracked steel beam and a bunch of people who think to know the cause of cracking just by looking to a photograph, that’s all you need on social media to confuse the person who asked what could have caused the crack. It remains unclear to me how neurons, synapses and other brain matter interact to come to a conclusion on a failure cause - or causes - without performing a proper failure analysis.

3---Large-Crack-in-a-Steel-BeamLuckily many people who respond ‘suggest’ that this or that ‘could’ have played a role in the cause of cracking; proviso is a wise thing when you don’t know what happened. Others just mention one or two of the many possible causes and create the absurd impression that they could see it on the picture; strange habit. Just by looking to a cracked beam it’s impossible to state that the steel was of bad quality, that the beam was improperly heat treated or that exaggerated stresses were present; you require specific analysis and a correct interpretation of the test results before you can make any such statement.

And than you have an incredible lot of people who confuse quality with patriotism and/or protectionism. Their answer when asked for the cause of failure is simple and clear: It’s Asian or African steel, or expressed otherwise ‘it’s not American steel’, or ‘it’s not European steel’, dependent on their citizenship. It’s beyond me how you can see a steel’s origin without having read the materials certificate.

With the 18 years experience I have as a failure analyst I can guarantee that ‘bad’ steels do not come from one or two specific regions in the world or, as some hard core patriots say, hail from a specific Asian country. Anywhere in the world bad steels are produced or - better said - production errors and flaws in quality control can occur everywhere. What these people stand for is certainly not quality, yet economic protectionism and/or patriotism. Neither of both has ever served quality, reliability or safety of technical objects and installations. Some consider protectionism and patriotism as important economic and social words, yet they have nothing to do with good engineering practice. To the contrary, protectionism and patriotism undermine the possibility to engineer and create the best possible products and installations in the world.

Have you ever considered that – from a technical and quality point of view - the best material for your product and installation is possibly produced in another country than yours?

Quality is not about patriotism or protectionism; quality is in part an attitude of wisely deployed openness to the possibilities and talents of all people in the world.


Frans Vos

General Manager Materials Consult


Another interesting blog on the use of social media in failure analysis

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