Finite Element Analysis of GRP Antenna Shrouds

Background

GRP antenna shrouds and enclosures have been widely used by the mobile-telecoms industry for a number of years, due to their combination of RF transparency and design freedom. However recent concerns regarding the structural integrity of a number of existing installations have resulted in a series of inspection/replacement programmes being rolled out across the country.

GlassFabs Managing Director, Chris Hill, explains further, “The telecoms industry discovered that several existing GRP installations were failing due to a combination of poor design and construction. The large – and often heavy – structures had been installed onto rooftops nationwide and were either fixed using inadequate fixings, or attached to inappropriate existing structures. As a result, there was a high possibility that some of the structures could be blown to the ground. An industry task force was created and very specific guidelines were drawn up covering both new installations and the replacement of existing, defective structures.”

Requirement

GRP fabricator, GlassFabs Ltd, specialises in the fabrication and installation of bespoke GRP and steel products and solutions for the telecoms industry.

It enlisted the help of Coventive in providing replacement antenna shrouds and enclosures for telecoms applications.

GlassFabs wanted to provide each of its clients with detailed structural analyses, to demonstrate how every installation is designed to withstand anticipated loads. However, finding a structural engineer with experience in the use of composites proved challenging.

Our Solution

To meet the requirements of GlassFabs, Coventive responded to its brief by:

  • Creating a model based on the client’s design specification, considering all methods of fastening, fixing and structural integrity.
  • Determining the load cases applicable, according to the size and shape of the construction, and the climate and terrain in which the construction will be located.
  • Calculating the amounts of materials required to provide the appropriate properties for the application.
  • Determining the design factors that must be taken into consideration for the finite element (FE) analysis of the model.
  • Analysing the FE model, using a variety of load-case scenarios and to report the conclusions clearly and concisely.

The Result

By providing detailed structural analysis with each job, GlassFabs is able to demonstrate the robustness and reliability of its installations to its clients. Furthermore, it is able to differentiate from many of its competitors who do not routinely offer such assurances.

In doing so, GlassFabs has positioned itself as a preferred supplier for many of the telecoms companies and is now benefiting from a significant growth in sales as a result.


Capabilities

Fibre Commingling

The blending of two different yarns to produce a single mixed yarn - used for producing hybrid reinforcements for composites such as carbon/glass or carbon/aramid

Microwave Heating

We have developed techniques for rapidly and uniformly heating thermoplastic composite and self-reinforced polymer (SRP) sheet materials using microwaves

Thermoplastic Pultrusion

We have pilot lines for the thermoplastic pultrusion of unidirectional fibre-reinforced tapes and rods, including an optional facility for the chopping thereof


Industries

Marine

Fibreglass boat hulls were some of the earliest applications of polymer composites, exploiting the ease with which they can be moulded into one-piece, freeform shapes. Today Coventive is working with builders of much larger ships, exploring how fire-resistant composites can support modular construction techniques for passenger cabins.

Mass Transport

Composites are routinely employed in trains and buses, most notably in train cabs and passenger interiors. As with other transport sectors, the fire requirements of the rail industry are very stringent, particularly for underground trains. This is another sector in which Coventive is working to introduce new lightweight, fire-safe composites.

Sports and Leisure

Sporting goods are all about performance. Materials that can make a piece of equipment lighter, stiffer, stronger, or more impact resistant can often provide a competitive advantage. Coventive has worked across a wide range of such applications including footwear, protective apparel, and sporting equipment.



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