ANSYS Software Deployed to Verify New Retractable Roof Design of Centre Court at Wimbledon

Engineering Software from ANSYS Used to Simulate Opening and Closing Mechanisms

ANSYS, Inc. (NASDAQ: ANSS), a global innovator of simulation software and technologies designed to optimize product development processes, today announced that its software was used to verify parts of the design of the new retractable roof over Centre Court at Wimbledon, one of the most famous tennis venues in the world. The U.K.-based engineering firm Advanced Computational Analysis (ACA) used software from ANSYS to conduct both static and dynamic analyses of the roof to ensure that it would perform properly under real-world loads and stresses. The roof operated as designed at its debut at the Championships tennis event, held this summer at London’s All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Five years in development, the 17,000-square foot retractable roof is an electromechanically operated structure that includes 10 movable steel trusses that support a translucent, weather-resistant fabric canopy. When open, the roof sections are “parked” at opposite sides of the court. To close the roof, the coordinated electromechanical system moves the trusses apart and, at the same time, unfolds and stretches out the fabric between the trusses, until the two sections meet in an overlapping seam above the middle of the structure.

While U.K. construction company Galliford Try was responsible for the overall build of the 3,000-tonne roof, the ambitious project involved many expert subcontractors. ACA was charged with performing static and dynamic verification of the mechanisms that open and close the trusses. Dr. Martyn Lacey, founder of ACA, explained, “Capita Symonds (principal structural engineering consultants) and Street Crane Express (motive control and automation specialists) had constructed three roof trusses for physical testing, but obviously it would be extremely time- and cost-intensive to build a prototype of the entire roof. So to perform a virtual analysis that would provide accurate, predictive results, we turned to software from ANSYS, which ACA has used for many years as its technology of choice. Our verification process was designed to ensure that the mechanisms on each truss would perform as expected.”

ACA used software from ANSYS to conduct both static and dynamic 3-D analyses of the roof trusses in a virtual environment, confirming that they could withstand real-world physical loads and mechanical stresses in both moving and at-rest positions. ACA focused special attention on the electromechanical actuators between each pair of trusses that are responsible for moving the roof. These actuators are subject to obvious physical forces, such as the weight of the trusses, as well as more subtle forces such as the changing tension of the fabric canopy. ANSYS® software supported the full range of simulation and analyses needed to verify the design of the roof system. “By using ANSYS software, we performed a timely, cost-effective verification of the roof’s design so the designers could proceed with construction,” said Dr. Lacey.

The new retractable roof made its Championships debut in late June, when rain would have otherwise interrupted a match. As the two roof sections came together, the capacity crowd rose in a standing ovation. Throughout the 2009 tournament, the roof was widely featured in worldwide coverage of the Championships.

“The Wimbledon retractable roof attracted international attention this summer, and so it was imperative that it work as intended,” said Dipankar Choudhury, vice president of corporate product strategy and planning at ANSYS, Inc. “While Wimbledon is steeped in tradition, the roof signals a new era of innovation. Unique ideas like this can take engineering in new directions, where ‘experience’ and prototype testing can’t foresee or solve every problem — and they’re extremely cost prohibitive. Virtual analysis with software from ANSYS played a groundbreaking role in this project, before construction even began.”

Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Club, said, “We set out to make Wimbledon the world’s premier tennis event — the tournament the players most want to win, the tournament spectators most want to come to and the tournament everyone wants to watch. The new Centre Court roof project has been a sophisticated engineering feat that adds to the prestige of this event.”


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