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Daily press, 2006-08-21, 02:55 PM

Germany's tallest freestanding escalators start operation

ThyssenKrupp Fahrtreppen, Hamburg, a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Elevator, Düsseldorf, has successfully completed a unique project: the two tallest freestanding escalators in Germany are now in service at Zeche Zollverein in Essen. They will transport visitors to the "ENTRY 2006" design exhibition to an elevated entrance area 23 meters above the ground.

The escalators at Zeche Zollverein were officially inaugurated on August 19, 2006 by the Lord Mayor of Essen Dr. Wolfgang Reiniger, undersecretary of state Günter Koslowski from the North Rhine-Westphalia transport ministry and Roland Weiss from the development agency Entwicklungsgesellschaft Zeche Zollverein. Hundreds of interested visitors witnessed the inauguration as part of a grand escalator party and took the opportunity to go for a maiden ride. The bright orange escalators attracted many glances and have already become an emblem of industrial culture.

Zeche Zollverein is a former colliery which has been converted into a museum and visitor center. The ambitious architecture is the work of the Dutch "Office for Metropolitan Architecture" (OMA), which was founded by the famous architect Rem Koolhaas. Since the closure of the colliery in 1986 the entire site has enjoyed protected status and it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

The two weather-proof escalators with a rise of 23.33 meters were custom-built and in their orange livery form a visual highlight of the colliery. The combination of the colors orange and black symbolize fire and coal. In recent years the former colliery has developed into an international design center, so the installations fit in ideally with the overall concept. But the escalators score not only on design. These high-tech installations provide maximum levels of safety and reliability to cope with changing weather conditions, long service times and high visitor numbers.

To ensure high availability, all operating data are analyzed by a safety bus system (e-escalator). In addition, this innovative system permits online escalator monitoring using the latest web technologies.

Another highlight is the "variable speed" energy saving system. A frequency converter saves energy by reducing the nominal speed steplessly from 0.5 m/s to 0.2 m/s as soon as there is no passenger on the escalators. The running step band indicates to users that the escalator is in operation. Innovative radar sensors identify passengers approaching the escalator. As soon a user passes these intelligent sensors, the escalator accelerates gently to nominal speed. Thanks to this system, operators not only save energy costs but also increase profitability.