In the wake of Hurricane Irma the number of construction crane accidents in Florida has refueled the safety debate. Several construction cranes were damaged with the high winds snapping off crane arms leaving them, and heavy counterweights, dangling perilously high above other structures.
Simulation has a big role to play in the determination of structural integrity for these kinds of structures. Dutch engineering consultants Femto Engineering conducted an analysis of a construction crane that failed in Rotterdam which caused a fatality and extensive damage to the construction site. Modeling the crane structure using one-dimensional beam elements in Femap, Femto engineers were able to build the finite element model very quickly. With the advanced nonlinear analysis functionality of NX Nastran, in particular nonlinear transient analysis, engineers assessed the dynamic behavior of the structure and simulated events running up to the collapse. In this way they managed to determine the mode and place of failure matching the actual structure.
You can read the full case study and see how Femto Engineering determined the nature of the crane collapse using Femap with NX Nastran.