SCEG used SimScale to assess structural safety on connections of the mast climbing work platforms (MCWP) of the Visual Control Tower in Dublin’s Airport

64 cores and 154 core-hours used

only 154 core-hours

2.5 hours shortened development time

Shortened development time

$10k savings on hardware

$10k savings on hardware

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SCEG Consulting Engineers are a civil engineering firm based out of Dublin, Ireland, who strive to provide optimum solutions for construction projects around the world.

The Challenge

Using FEA To Predict Safety of a Structural Connection Used In Erection and Construction

Engineers and architects often face the challenge of performing under severe operational constraints. Simulation has been widely used in the construction field in order to optimize productivity and to ensure safe designs.

VCT connection under testing
Dublin Airport’s new Visual Control Tower under contruction.

SCEG decided to adopt SimScale to perform several structural analyzes on a device used in the erection of the new Visual Control Tower at Dublin Airport. This device was used to connect the mast climbing work platforms (MCWP) to the tower while it was being constructed. These MCWPs are required to facilitate the erection of the architectural precast cladding, but mainly due to the effectiveness of the access provided by the new connection setup developed by SCEG, the contractor (BAM Ireland) ended up using it for other usages as well, such as concrete corbel forming works for the steelwork levels, cladding access, soffits, services, as well as cladding and lettering the vertical strips between the precast sides of the tower.

Connections installed on the VCT, at Dublin Airport.
Connections installed on the VCT, at Dublin Airport.

Paul Sexton, chartered engineer at SCEG was told that the value created by this simple innovation was almost immeasurable! And SimScale has helped him to gain confidence in this design and proceed to physical tests, before bringing it to the site.

With the increasing digitisation of everything, I have formed the view that the best technologies are those that bring transparency to the work that we do so that we can get better insights and make better decisions. And so for us, this is basically the main reason that we’re using SimScale and other tools such as Onshape in our workflows. I don’t think what we achieved would have been possible for us without using Onshape and the seamless link to SimScale which included excellent FEA support personnel!

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Paul Sexton

Chartered Engineer at SCEG Ltd.

How they solved it with SimScale

Nonlinear Multi-step FEA Analyzes To Assess Device Behavior Under Installation Loading

SCEG wanted to assess the performance of a new design approach for the connection device used in the erection of a new Visual Control Tower in the Airport of Dublin. The geometry was then uploaded into SimScale for meshing. The end-to-end workflow environment available in SimScale guaranteed Paul the ability to mesh, simulate and post-process the results in one single place, running mesh and simulation in the cloud. The company didn’t need to invest in special hardware, as only a web browser and internet connection were needed to perform the simulations.

Connective device mesh used for the simulation
The mesh of the connective device in the SimScale platform

For meshing, the Tet-Dominant automatic mode was used to generate a 1.3 million cell mesh. Manual mesh sizing was used to have control over the mesh quality. This operation took around 15 minutes to complete using 32 cores.

Nonlinear static analysis was then performed using 64 cores to run. As the installation of the device is done in two steps, this needed to be reproduced in the simulation. In the first step, the wedge moves a few millimeters to lock the left and right sticks in place. In the second step, the loads due to the coupling to the scaffolds are applied. The connection device must hold these loads and stabilize the structure in the correct place to guarantee safety when workers move the mast climbing platforms during erection. This simulation took around 2.5 hours to run using only 154 core-hours from SCEG’s account.

The Results

Von Mises Stress and Reaction Forces Measured with FEA To Guarantee Correct Behavior and Safety

The main goal from the non-linear FEA analysis was to guarantee that the device would not suffer stresses higher than the yield stress when under the installation and operational loading. SimScale helped Paul assess this, and the device was then taken to the site to be used in the erection of the new control tower.

Stress contour on Connection Device
Stress contour on the connection device within the SimScale post-processor

Many connection devices were then used to install the scaffolds which hold the mast climbing work platforms. These were then used for several months while workers were constructing the tower.

The project was a success as all devices served their purpose, and SCEG could evaluate them after disassembling the structures. This gave even more confidence to Paul to continue to use SimScale as the results from the simulation were proven to be correct in real-world application.

Next steps

SCEG Continues Its Collaboration with SimScale To Perform Structural Development and Validation of New Products

SimScale has proven to SCEG that CAE can optimize and speed up product designing, and thus will continue to be the CAE option for SCEG in their future projects.

I don’t think what we achieved would have been possible without using SImScale, which provides an excellent FEA support personnel!”.
connection device stress contours
Stress countours of the connection device discovered through simulation

With SimScale, we get a platform that helps us be more efficient in our development workflow, get more done faster, and make decisions on design changes quickly. Even better, we get the support of the experts at SimScale, who feel like an extension of our own team.

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