Testing and installation
Seele says four tests were required to produce a single correctly bent tube. To ensure that the thousands of tubes would be produced efficiently, Seele wrote programmes in the C# computer language to bend and measure machines that can communicate and learn from each other.
Mistakes during production could therefore be reduced to less than 3%, and wastage was also minimised.
Stefan Kloker, senior structural engineer at Seele, explains the process: “With the help of the programming and then collecting the data in a database, we were able to build a mock-up and get the self-learning machines up and running within four months.
“The solution was to back-calculate the final geometry of the bent tube to a straight tube prior to bending, simulate the bending process, check the accuracy of fit, and then produce the tube after checking all the data.
“As every specific data record is stored, it can be reconstructed at any time.”
The Seele team was therefore able to account for critical design factors – such as tight tolerances, material behaviour, the fitted tubes’ accuracy, and the tubes’ fixing to the supporting structure – during production.
Owing to the material’s properties, there was only one chance per tube to get the bending and twist right, because re-bending in the machine was impossible. Bending the tubes beyond their required shape accounted for the springback of the steel.
Seele engineers also had to account for the markings and the drilling for the fixings, so that the positions would be obvious after bending, and the drilled holes would be in the right places.
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The bending machines developed new algorithms automatically through a measuring system, which were then used as the basis for performing each bending process.
Each tube was bent, with its ends tapered for connection, using the bending and measuring machines, and based on precisely generated 3D data. The exact erection sequence was also specified through computer simulations.
While each tube is a “one-off” piece, Seele says each element was categorised according to its connections, in order to reduce the complexity of the parts.
As a result, every tube required individual instructions in the form of precise QR codes and laser engraving, which was automatically applied to each tube.
After production, every tube was wrapped separately by Seele to protect the surfaces, and then packed in crates to match the erection sequence on site. The crates were delivered to the site in a fixed order.
Site crews scanned QR codes to identify the tubes and their position on the building by way of a 3D model.
Jürgen Laky, managing director of Seele Middle East, outlines the benefits of using technology for KACWC: “All phases of the project – from design through production to erection – benefited from the use of a coherent system throughout.
"Erection procedures on site in the desert of Saudi Arabia were distinguished by efficiency and economy.
“As a result of the perfectly planned logistics and ingenious preparations, not one of the tubes was wrong or missing when work was carried out on site.”
Seele says its work on the project has ensured that the façade “wraps itself around the building without any steps or edges, has harmonious, rounded features, and tubes that run perfectly parallel”.