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Case Study

Downing Quick Connect System Speeds Wellhead Installation

“We’ve been using Ansys Cloud for five months now and it’s been a game changer for us from a productivity standpoint, especially because we can submit multiple Ansys Mechanical jobs covering different scenarios and run them overnight. Ansys Cloud also eliminates any scheduling or memory capacity concerns regarding our own computing system. It’s been a fantastic product.”

— Tim Marvel Vice President / Business Development and Technology Downing, A Subsidiary of SEF Energy


In the oil wellhead market, conventional technology uses bolted flanges to fasten components of the wellhead, which is a time-consuming process. In their drive to bring new technology to the marketplace, Downing engineers wanted to develop a Quick Connect system so a worker could lower the connecting equipment on top of the wellhead and run screws around the periphery, eliminating the bolted flanges. The new design saves significant assembly time per flanged connection for batch drilling scenarios and servicing blowout preventers (BOP). The system has to withstand high pressures of up to 15,000 psi, in addition to multiple load cases, so mechanical simulation was critical to verify and validate the design.


Downing had to provide wellhead workers with a solution that saves time while being practical and simple to use. Installation had to be possible using the tools that were already available. The connecting system had to be structurally designed to fit within the geometric envelope of the wellhead. Also, because wellhead operators rent the Quick Connect to drilling companies and compete with traditional flanged technology, it was important to drive down the manufacturing cost of the Quick Connect system.

Engineering Solution

  • Used Ansys Mechanical to perform a highly nonlinear mechanical simulation involving bolt pretension, contact and nonlinear gasket materials. The resulting model had two million nodes and up to four load cases.
  • Ran the mechanical simulations on Ansys Cloud enlisting 96 compute cores with distributed parallel processing.
  • Used Ansys Mechanical to develop a two-piece design and to reduce critical stresses after discovering that a single component would be too large to manufacture.


  • For each design case, Ansys Cloud reduced Ansys Mechanical simulation time from 15-20 hours on a local workstation to only 2-4 hours.
  • Wellhead operators reported saving 8 hours on installation time using the Quick Connect system.
  • The Quick Connect system enabled Downing to win additional work where this type of system is a requirement.

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