Workplace with a very special view – Roland Friedberger from Carl Stahl has installed our rope management system on the central support pylon of the Wendelstein Cable Car in Bavaria, with our colleague Johannes Schuster. Here is our report for you on the memorable mission.
Warm sunlight bathes the landscape around Bayrischzell. Summer has also come to the small community in the Upper Bavarian Alps. The village is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and set amidst wonderful mountain scenery. In the summertime many tourists start their hikes from there and in winter the nearby skiing area is an insider tip for advanced skiers with its steep slopes. Those who want to experience the mountain can either ascend the 1,838-metre high Wendelstein on foot – or take the cable car. From the valley station to the summit station this journey takes a mere seven minutes and negotiates a difference in altitude of 932 metres.
The cable car has been in operation since 1970 and can carry up to 450 people in two large cable car vehicles every hour. What makes it so special is that it has just one single supporting column, at a formidable height of 75 metres. And this is precisely where Roland Friedberger is standing right now. He gazes out over the landscape and enjoys the breathtaking panorama and the moment of silence all around him. For this view, unlike the tourists, he does not need to board the Wendelstein Cable Car gondola, which is just passing a few metres beneath his feet towards the summit station. For the supporting column is only accessible to a small authorised group of people.
Workplace with a view: “Never seen a more spectacular sight,” says Roland Friedberger.
The Wendelstein Rack Railway passes beneath the central support pylon…
… and carries guests to the summit station at a height of 1,724 metres.
And today Roland Friedberger is also one of them. But he is not up there simply to take in the view. “This is the most spectacular workplace I have ever had,” he says. He has already carried out many jobs at height, on roofs or in steel construction. For the past 13 years he has been working at the Carl Stahl Group in Munich, and for three years he has been employed as an expert for Personal Fall Protection Equipment (PFPE) and fall-arrest systems. He advises companies in the search for suitable products, develops individual solutions with them and also carries out installations and inspections. In so doing, he works closely with our sales colleague Johannes Schuster from Southern Germany; the Carl Stahl Group is our partner, providing customers with support, from risk assessment and installation through to annual inspection of fall-arrest systems.
Functional check with risks
Wendelsteinbahn GmbH was also looking for an individual fall-arrest solution. Every day there are employees working on the central support pylon of the cable car, inspecting the rollers which are mounted beneath a steel surface. In this work until now they had to lean over the fall edge, using one hand to support themselves, whilst they tested the rollers’ functionality with the other hand – with the ever-present danger of falling. A further issue is that in the winter or during periods of low temperatures ice can quickly build up, making the infrastructures slippery. “The pylon was constructed at a time when health and safety did not play a significant role. The fall-arrest systems were obviously outdated,” says Friedberger – and grabs his tool kit.
In action: Roland Friedberger is a specialist in fall-arrest systems.
Together with Johannes Schuster from SKYLOTEC, Friedberger now gets to work on the central support pylon in order to install an appropriate fall-arrest system – PFPE and safety helmet are part of their basic equipment. Naturally. The two experts have already inspected the operating area in advance and together with Wendelstein GmbH developed a concept for the fall-arrest system. It was a customer requirement for the employees to be able to move freely during their work and not constantly keep coming adrift from the structure. This is why they opted for the SKYLINE rope management system. Intermediate brackets and curved elements not only ensure flexible planning and installation but also allow longer sections to be bridged with just a few brackets. Workers can secure themselves to the system via an easy-glide slider which they connect with their body harness via a safety rope. This means they can move freely and are protected at all times without having to re-attach themselves constantly.
Roland Friedberger assembles the SKYLINE out of individual parts.
The intermediate brackets are fitted to the pre-bored holes.
Today Friedberger has to install a rope management system for a total of four maintenance walkways, two of which measure 15 metres in length and two nine metres in length. He attaches the intermediate brackets to the parapet guide rails. The job is also going so smoothly because the operators have conducted excellent preparatory work. “They have already pre-bored holes based on my plan and treated these with corrosion protection,” explains Friedberger. Finally, the system is tightened via the two rope terminals on both ends. “The length of the rope is relatively small in this application. For another specific application, for example on a machine safety device or on a roof building, installation would also have been an option without intermediate brackets,” says Friedberger. But in this case he decided, along with SKYLOTEC, to use intermediate brackets for his customer Wendelsteinbahn – and for good reason: the intermediate brackets ensure stability and without them the deflection of the rope would have been too great. “It could have meant that people would have fallen over the edge although they are attached to the rope system,” says the expert. In this way Carl Stahl devised the best possible solution for his customer which provides maximum functionality and safety.
Fall-arrest system in the midst of a picturesque landscape.
The SKYLINE extends several metres along the maintenance walkway.
A rope terminal keeps the management system locked in place at the end.
Friedberger spends an entire working day on the central support pylon until installation of the SKYLINE systems is complete. The sun is already disappearing behind the mountains as he packs away his tools. Friedberger casts a satisfied glance into the distance, taking it all in. “It’s truly a unique place,” he says. He would certainly welcome more jobs like this one: “Working at heights is my passion.”
We would like to thank our colleague Johannes Schuster for the excellent preparation and support on site and our cameraman and photographer Mathias Wolf for the spectacular shots which came from the project!