There will be a good service at Wimbledon again this year thanks to the preventative maintenance work SCX Special Projects performs on the retractable roof over Centre Court.
The mechanisms to mobilise the roof were designed, built and installed in 2009 by SCX Special Projects - a Sheffield-based company providing bespoke solutions for all kinds of mechanical handling systems - and is one of the first types of concertina moving structures ever constructed for a stadium in the UK.
The roof can be deployed either fully or partially to accommodate any unpredictable weather conditions. Weighing 1,000 tonnes, it covers 5,200 square metres and can close in 10 minutes or less against wind speeds of up to 43 miles per hour. Because of its complex and unique composition, the roof demands regular preventative maintenance to ensure that it is operating effectively.
Leading up to the Championships, SCX Special Projects works around the clock to ensure that the roof is prepped and ready for the tournament. Amongst the team of nine is SCX Special Projects' Project Manager John Biggin, "There are four mechanical engineers, two electrical, two control and myself," he said. "We go down to Wimbledon about seven times a year to inspect all the moving parts and machinery - both mechanical and electrical - making adjustments if need be to ensure that the roof is moving properly."
The retractable roof works similar to a folding fabric concertina – with metal ribs (or trusses) supporting a translucent industrial fabric. Each truss is mounted on two powered end carriages (or bogies) which run along a track fixed to the roof of the Centre Court. Folding V-shaped end arms link the trusses together and four vertically mounted actuators deploy to open these end arms out, pushing the trusses apart and opening the roof.
"We monitor the roof's control system to improve efficiency and reduce any problems that may occur. The system is highly complex and sometimes requires us to fine tune the electrical controls," said Biggin.
Biggin and his team of SCX Special Projects engineers will also be on site during the Championships to monitor and control the roof to ensure it is operating at peak efficiency.