Bentley Systems Strengthens Structural Tools with ADINA Acquisition

Gigerwald dam in the Canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Picture credit: ADINA.

In April, infrastructure engineering software company Bentley Systems announced its acquisition of ADINA R & D, Inc., a developer of finite element analysis (FEA) software applications. ADINA’s applications are meant to give users greater confidence in their structural designs by simulating loads. The ADINA team’s simulation software will help Bentley to create digital twins of structures ranging from bridges to tunnels.

Bentley intends to do analyses on its iTwin platform, an open, scalable cloud platform designed to understand the effects of stresses on different types of infrastructure. ADINA software can do advanced dynamics, 3D finite element models, buckling, substructuring and advanced meshing for critical joints and sections. ADINA software can also solve problems in other disciplines, including fluids, thermal, electromagnetic and multi-physics.

“ADINA enables engineers to conduct more detailed studies and investigations than were possible with our current portfolio,” said Raoul Karp, vice president of engineering simulation and design integration for Bentley Systems.

Raoul Karp, vice president of engineering simulation and design integration for Bentley Systems. Photo credit: Bentley Systems.
One of those more detailed studies ADINA software will accomplish is determining the nonlinear effects of different phenomena, including seismic, wind, flood, pressure, thermal, collision, or blast forces. The term “nonlinear” here means there is not a direct relationship between an independent variable, like water pressure, and a dependent variable, like the severity of a crack in a structure. It is important for Bentley, which supplies software to infrastructure projects including dams, to be able to understand the multiple ways that the stress from water pressure could affect a dam structurally.

How Predictions Improve Performance

ADINA’s FEA can simulate physical phenomena like an earthquake and predict its effect on a skyscraper.

ADINA’s FEA helps engineers to find weak spots that can be addressed, using a color scale similar to other FEA programs.

A key factor in Bentley’s analytical software brands, including STAAD, SACS, AutoPIPE, and RAM, is the emphasis it places on the design and code compliance aspects of a structure or facility.

“We go to great lengths to understand and interpret what the governing design codes require. However, engineers often want or need to design to a stricter standard than the code provides. (They may) need to design something that does not already have a well-established design standard or guide,” noted Karp.

Karp adds that regular standards have begun to mandate the consideration of more robust analysis. This is particularly true when a user such as a city demands greater resilience and performance than the codes require. ADINA’s software allows Bentley to run more elaborate simulations of materials, elements, loadings and constraints that make up a system.

Example of Structures Analyzed by ADINA

ADINA’s software has helped refine a variety of structures.

One example is the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, also known as the George Washington Memorial Bridge. The Aurora Bridge, which is operated by the Washington State Department of Transportation, passes over the west end of Lake Union and has a horizontal framework, or truss, that is supported in the middle.

Detail relating to the seismic isolation of the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. Photo credit: Bentley Systems.

ADINA software was used to perform seismic isolation of the bridge. With the software, T.Y. Lin International, the structural engineering firm, could model and quantify how friction pendulum bearings could help the bridge survive an earthquake.

A friction pendulum bearing is a stainless steel concave dish and stainless steel articulated slider with a composite liner on top. In an earthquake, the slider moves back and forth on the dish in a motion that is similar to a pendulum. The composite liner generates friction that is 5 to 7 percent of the vertical force acting on the bearing. In this way, the bearing isolates the bridge from the earthquake, absorbing the energy by creating friction.

ADINA software also raises confidence that the Gigerwald Dam in St. Gallen, Switzerland, could survive an earthquake. This concrete arch dam is composed of 24 vertical concrete monoliths. Swiss regulations demand that a dam be able to withstand an earthquake of 8.0 intensity on the Medvedev–Sponheuer–Karnik scale. Engineers used ADINA to conduct a linear dynamic analysis to see if the monoliths would separate in an 8.0+ earthquake.

The engineers found that if the monoliths separated from each other at the crest level, or the highest level of the dam, it would be possible for the upper portion of a monolith to be fully detached at its base because of fracture. The engineers used a 3D model to evaluate the potential impact on the dam if several monoliths had preexisting horizontal cracks. The data showed that the final crack would open but that movement of the detached portion would be well within safety margins.

In addition, ADINA software proved the safety of a railway station in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia in China. Southwest Jiaotong University used the software to see if the station’s wide-span circular steel domed roof might collapse due to structural failure. The dome, which has a diameter of 80 meters and a height of 16 meters, is supported at the rim by transitional trusses that connect to the surrounding structure. With ADINA software, the university created a 3D CAD model and performed an FEA. The university found that the structure behaved well under different simulated loads. This allowed the university to determine which parts of the structure were vulnerable. It then made changes to the overall roof design to make the structure safe.

Changes in Bentley’s Operations

Bentley, which is headquartered in Exton, Pa., says that ADINA development will continue to operate from Watertown, Mass. Since ADINA software complements Bentley’s analytical solutions, ADINA’s tools will extend the reach of the structural and mechanical products that Bentley currently offers.

Klaus-Jürgen Bathe, who founded ADINA in 1986, will remain with the original team as a technical adviser. Bathe, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a leader in FEA, says that he is proud to be joining Bentley Systems.

“Our aim in the development of ADINA has always been to provide a most reliable and efficient analysis tool to scientists and engineers. It is wonderful that with Bentley, ADINA will now be used and further developed with great potential for solving the varied and interrelated challenges of infrastructure resilience,” said Bathe.