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The structural collapse of an iron-ore bucket-wheel stacker reclaimer at the beginning of operation was investigated by means of mechanical tests, microstructural characterization, and computational structural analysis. The mechanical failure was a consequence of a brittle fracture by cleavage. The crack followed the heat-affected zone of a welded joint connecting a rectangular hollow section member and a plate flange. The main factors contributing to failure were related with a combination of design-in and manufacturing-in factors like high load-strength ratio at the point of failure, local stress concentration as a result of geometry restrictions, and weld defects. This particular section was responsible for the load transfer between the front tie member and the boom extremity, and its failure was the main cause of the catastrophic failure of the equipment.

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