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Tutorial: Linear Static Analysis of a Crane

This article provides a step-by-step tutorial for a linear static analysis of a crane.

von Mises stress distribution of a crane simulated with simscale
Figure 1: Visualization of von Mises stress on a crane.

This tutorial teaches how to:

  • Set up and run a linear static analysis of a crane.
  • Assign boundary conditions, material and other properties to the simulation.
  • Mesh with the SimScale standard meshing algorithm.

We are following the typical SimScale workflow:

  1. Preparing the CAD model for the simulation.
  2. Setting up the simulation.
  3. Creating the mesh.
  4. Run the simulation and analyze the results.

1. Prepare the CAD Model and Select the Analysis Type

Firstly, click the button below. It will copy the tutorial project containing the geometry into your own workbench.

After that, the empty project will be imported into your profile. The following picture demonstrates what should be visible after importing the tutorial project.

view of workbench with crane model inside the workbench
Figure 2: That is how your workbench should look like after hitting the ‘import tutorial into workbench’ button.

1.1 Create the Simulation

Firstly, you can create a new simulation by clicking the ‘Create Simulation’ button in the geometry dialog box.

geometry dialog box showing how to create a new simulation run in simscale
Figure 3: Geometry dialog box.

Secondly, after clicking the button the simulation library will pop up:

simscale simulation library showing selection for statlic simulation
Figure 4: SimScale simulation library.

We will select the ‘Static’ analysis type for this simulation.

After selecting the analysis type, the simulation tree will appear. This shows you the settings that we will need to define before starting the simulation.

simulation tree of a linear static simulation in simscale
Figure 5: Simulation tree.

Now, you are ready to setup the linear static analysis of the crane.

2. Simulation Settings

Before running the simulation, we will need to define important settings. These settings are:

  • Direction of gravity
  • Materials of the crane
  • Boundary conditions

2.1 Direction of Gravity

The magnitude and direction of gravity highly affect the result of the simulation, because the crane’s own weight is a noticeable load already. You can define the magnitude and direction of gravity by clicking the ‘Model’ in your simulation tree.

the gravity magnitude settings in simscale platform
Figure 6: Gravity settings.

The magnitude of gravity is 9.81 \(m/s^2\) and the direction of gravity for this simulation will be in the negative y-direction.

2.2 Define a Material

You will also need to define the material of your crane. You can choose the material of your crane by clicking ‘Materials’ in the simulation tree which opens the SimScale material library.:

material library of simscale and steel is selected for static linear simulation
Figure 7: Material library.
  • For this simulation please select ‘Steel’ and confirm with ‘Apply’.
assigned material
Figure 8: Steel material assigned to the crane model.
  • You have successfully created a new material. Now you need to assign it to a geometry, so simply click on the crane to assign it.
  • You can also define your own material by changing the material property. Additionally, you can give it a new name.

2.3 Assign the Boundary Conditions

Boundary conditions play a key role in simulations. They define the physical conditions, which you want to analyze your design with. In this simulation, we will apply a fixed support-, and a force boundary condition. The places where the boundary conditions are applied can be seen below:

boundary conditions that are used for linear static simulation on a crane
Figure 9: Boundary conditions applied for this simulation. Compare them later to what you set up and make sure they are the same.

The next steps will show you how to assign each boundary conditions.

a. Fixed Suppot

Firstly, you can define a boundary condition by going to ‘Boundary conditions’ in your simulation tree and this will show you the list of possible boundary conditions that can be applied for a static linear simulation. This is the step where you select ‘Fixed support’ as a boundary condition.

steps to select fixed support boundary condiiton for linear static simulation
Figure 10: Boundary condition list for linear static simulation.

After that, a dialog box of the fixed support boundary condition will show up. Here, you will only need to define where the support of the crane is located.

fixed support boundary condition placed at  three faces of the foundation of the crane for linear static simulation
Figure 11: Fixed support boundary condition.

b. Force

You can follow the similar steps as before to select the Force boundary conditions.

-500 kn force boundary condiiton applied at the top of a crane model for a linear static simulation
Figure 12: Force boundary condition.

We will define our force to be -500 kN in the y-direction. Since the force is a downward force, it is negative.


No changes were made for the Numerics and Result control settings for this tutorial as default settings will be sufficient.

3. Mesh

To get the mesh, we recommend using the standard algorithm, which is automated and delivers good results for the most geometries.

The only change you need to do here is enabling 2nd order elements so that you will gain more accurate results.

mesh settings for linear static simulation of a crane
Fig 13: Mesh dialog box.

Why 2nd Order Elements?

Here is an article of why you 2nd order elements are recommended and which finite element type you should use. Which type of finite element should I use?

The resulting mesh looks like this:

mesh of a crane using the standard meshing algorithm in simscale which contains 225.4k nodes
Figure 14: Mesh of the crane model.

Related Meshing Knowledge Base Articles

Here are additional knowledge base articles that you can read regarding meshing:

4. Start the Simulation

You can start a simulation run by going to ‘Simulation run’ in the simulation tree.

simulation tree of simscale with steps on how to start a new simulation run
Figure 15: Steps to start a new simulation run.

After clicking, you will be shown a dialog box that shows you an estimate of the computing resource that will be spent to run your simulation. Moreover, you are also allowed to change the name of your simulation run, this can be used to differentiate each run.

simulation run dialog box showing the estimate of computing resourcce for the simulation run and the name of the simulation run
Figure 16: Simulation run dialog box.

You can start the simulation run by pressing the ‘Start’ button.

5. Post-Processing

After the simulation run has finished computing, you can access the results by one of two methods:

access online post-processor linear static analysis crane
Figure 17: The two ways to access the online post-processor in SimScale
  1. Click the ‘Solution fields’ under the simulation run.
  2. Click the ‘Post-process results’ button in the run dialog.

When you have been directed in the post-processor, you can start analyzing your results. For this tutorial, we will show the von Mises stress and the deformation of the crane.

5.1 Von Mises Stress

You can show the von Mises stress of the crane by going to the Parts Color section in the Filters panel, and selecting ‘Von Mises Stress’ for Coloring. It could be selected by default:

Figure 18: Filter panel setup for showing the von Mises stress contour

After that, the von Mises stress in the crane is visualized:

stress results linear static analysis crane
Figure 19: Von Mises stress distribution in the crane due to the applied loads

It can be seen that the highest stress levels occur at the supported end of the structure. It is clear from the legend which members are under high loading and which members are under low loading, being colored yellow and blue respectively.

5.2 Displacement

Since deformation is also important in stress analysis, we can visualize both the von Mises stress and displacement at the same time:

create displacement plot linear static analysis crane
Figure 20: Steps to create the displacement plot, used to visualize the deformed shape of the crane
  1. Click the ‘Add Filter’ button in the Filters panel at the top left.
  2. Select ‘Displacement’ from the drop-down list.

Since the displacement of the crane is very small, we will need to scale the displacement to clearly visualize it. You can scale the displacement by going to the newly created Displacement section of the Filters panel. Here, you can change the Scaling factor of the deformation:

deformation scale factor linear static analysis crane
Figure 21: Location of the Scaling factor parameter in the Filters panel

For example, the picture below shows a visualization of the von Mises stress and the deformed crane with a scaling factor of 50:

stress and deformation plot linear static analysis crane
Figure 22: Visualization of von Mises stress and deformation of the crane structure due to the applied loads

In this last plot, the deformation shape of the crane can be visualized. The effect of the fixed constraints and the end load and gravity can be appreciated. Notice the downward displacement and slight rotation of the end block on the right-hand-side, which could be an important factor in the design process.

Congratulations! You finished the tutorial!


If you have questions or suggestions, please reach out either via the forum or contact us directly.

Last updated: February 11th, 2021

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