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Energy chain matches Wimbledon centre court demands

Published: 4 August 2014 - Rachael Morling

Energy chains from igus play an important role in Wimbledon’s retractable roof. The roof works on a principle similar to a folding fabric concertina, with metal ribs or trusses supporting a translucent industrial fabric. It features 148 axes of control, huge steel trusses and over 17,000 sq ft of fabric, and is controlled by 108 high performance actuators, 40 servo motors and 196 servo drives, along with miles of cables.

The trusses are described as inverted triangles, which are supported by the end arms and set into precise motion by electric actuators which form a structural yet moveable part of the roof. The roof comprises nine bays of tensioned fabric divided into two sections. The northern section has five bays, the south four, and each is supported on either side by a steel truss spanning the 77m wide court.

The ends of each truss are supported by a wheeled carriage or bogie which moves along a track positioned on the fixed roof of Centre Court.

With the design being ‘concertina’, however, it was essential that damage to the electrical cables was prevented. To help, energy chains from igus are being used to guide and protect the cables during roof movement to increase the service lives of the cables and hoses.

Being modular, the energy chains can be assembled quickly and easily to accommodate any length or orientation of travel, the company explains. They are tested and proven against environmental elements, high loads and speeds, and noise.

“We needed the energy chains to get the cables safely across moving items,” explained John Biggin, project manager at mechanical engineers, SCX Special Projects. “They support and protect the cables.

If we didn’t protect and control the cables they would keep getting bent as the roof concertinas and they would eventually fracture – so we put in the energy chains.”

Of additional benefit, the plastic energy chains could be colour co-ordinated to fit in with the overall design. For the Wimbledon application they were moulded in white plastic.

Due to the success of the concertina roof, there are now plans to install a retractable roof on the Number One court, which is expected to be very similar to the one on Centre Court.  


T: 01604 677240

Industry Connections: Igus UK Ltd

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