Fatzer get to the ‘roof’ of the matter


Malte Kabelitz on Coliseum MENA Image: Malte Kabelitz on Coliseum MENA

Exuding a lot of confidence, Malte Kabelitz comes across as a person who knows the ‘ropes’, literally. He talks flawlessly and with élan on the subject of steel wire ropes and cable-stayed roof structures.

Presently, he is in the role of Technical Sales Director of FATZER AG Wire Ropes, Switzerland, a company which excels in the development, manufacture and global distribution of high quality steel wire ropes for structural applications, ropeways and other purposes. He is posted at Thurgau in Switzerland.

Kabelitz boasts excellent business acumen and plays a key role in after-sales support – providing expert help from selection of the ideal rope, to a suitable rope transport, to service and maintenance once operation has begun.

FATZER AG Wire Ropes

Founded as a rope-making factory in 1836 in the Swiss town of Romanshorn, FATZER has been producing top-quality ropes for generations.

The company process high-tensile precision steel wire into ropes with diameters of up to 135 mm and assemble them with shapely end connections.

The company’s high-tensile steel wire ropes allow imposing, lightweight roof structures for stadia and event halls with minimal use of material. Flexible ropes offer various advantages over rigid structures.

In an exclusive chat with ‘Coliseum’, Malte Kabelitz explained in details about steel wire ropes and cable-stayed roof structures. He also shared step by step the challenge of constructing the roof (cables) of the jaw-dropping Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, US.

FATZER through Malte Kabelitz prism

He informed that 180 years ago FATZER was founded as a manufacturer of hemp ropes for the fishing industry but then switched very quickly to steel wire ropes. They invented back in 1906 the full lock coir cable which is nowadays standard for the structural industry for all kinds of structural applications – “We are part of the BRUGG GROUP which is a big company with different segments all a little bit located in steel and steel wires. We moved five years ago to the business area in Romanshorn in Switzerland with a brand new facility. There we produced over 15,000 tonnes of steel wire ropes based on two segments – the structural segment and the cable cast, ski lifts segment. We have engineered and produced our own machines and that is one reason why we can firmly say that we can produce a high expected Swiss quality in our production.”

Cable-stayed roof structure

Elaborating on the above topic, he stated, “If we are talking about cable-stayed roof structure for stadiums, in general we are talking about ring roofs or we are talking about an open roof on the stadium which consists on a compression ring, on a trench ring in the inside and in between cable-stayed roof structure in different ways.”

Kabelitz highlighted the fact that the “Cable-stayed roof structure is the most lightweight and most material-saving roof structure solution at the moment. And most lightweight and most material-saving means also cost-savings at the end of the day.”

Cable-stayed roof construction is another structural system derived from bridge building. A flat roof structure in bending is supported from above by steel cables radiating downward from masts that rise above roof level; spans of up to 72 meters (236 feet) have been built.

The roof story

FATZER took up the gauntlet of constructing the roof (cables) of the one of the most scintillating stadiums in the United States – the 65,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium which opened in the year 2020 and sits in Las Vegas, Nevada.

He stated, “If we are talking about the Allegiant Stadium roof, it is a little bit different. It is not an open roof, it is a complete covered stadium. So, we still have compression ring on the outside and on the inside we worked with a double cable net. So, we have an upper and a lower cable net and some rods in between which gave the cable net the final shape. In total, we are talking about 440 tonnes of steel wire ropes, which means 100 cables with a total length of 16 kilometers. We are talking about sizes in between 50 and 70 mm in diameter of the cables and single lengths between roughly 100 and 215 meters. As we start this project, we talked about several options on how to install these cables. But in general, you have to say it is not possible to install them one by one. You have to lay out the complete cable net preassembled on the ground and then lift a complete net up to the roof.”

Precision planning

Kabelitz further narrated, “So, we planned everything with precision as covering the complete ground of the stadium with cables is quite a complex process. Basically, we positioned all the clamps on the ground and then we pulled the cables all over the ground – the first layer and the second layer of cables – and we called it the spaghetti bowl because it really looks like one. But at the end you have to say all the position – the clamps, of the cables, of the rods – were basically planned at the beginning and that was one of our success factors. We planned everything in advance. So, everything depends on the right position to carry out the Big Lift.”

Big Lift

Talking about the technicalities, he further explained, “While laying out the cable, the clamps were all positioned. There was a top and bottom parts of the clamp connecting to the nets and in between there were these strong rods. Also, what had to be installed in the platforms – we have to install on the compressor rings all the platforms to get connected to our tension equipment, to get connected to the connection point from the cable to the compressor ring. And then the Big Lift starts. Basically, that means our tension equipment from the outer ring we start pulling the cables up in the air, so we start it with the upper cable net to pull the cables up to the compressor ring and afterwards we switch a little bit to the lower cable and once pressure is exerted on the rods, the rods give the upper cable net the final shape of the stadium.”

Roof shape

After the Big Lift, all the cables are connected to the outer ring, the tension on the lower cable net push the rod through the upper cable net that gives the roof its final shape – the cable-stayed roof structure arise.

Cable-stayed roof structure

  • Cable-stayed roof structures are the most lightweight and most material-saving structures at the moment.


The roof edge

Kabelitz asserted that the biggest advantage of Allegiant Stadium is that it has no big steel trusses in the roof and “You get really an outdoor feeling on a complete covered and secured stadium. That is the most impressive thing about the facility.”

Secret sauce

He wrapped up by stating, “The best advice I can give as the employee of a professional company involved in this project – there are only handful of companies in the world who are able to install and Big Lift a venue of the stature of Allegiant Stadium. And FATZER’S secret sauce is – get involved as early as possible in a project and plan and organize everything with extreme precision. This approach helped the company to get the cable-stayed roof structure of Allegiant Stadium done on time, on budget and without any accidents. The roof structure timeline was about three months.”

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