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MDA Technologies 1/2016

MDA Technologies 1/2016

“It goes round and

“It goes round and round …” It was only meant to stay there for five years. Now it has already been there more than 15 years. I travelled to London, England to learn more about the condition of the bearings installed in it. Even at corporate headquarters in Germany I was able to gain interesting insights into the history of the Ferris wheel which was once the largest in the world. MACHINE ELEMENTS What a beautiful morning! Although a few clouds were still floating by above the city, the first rays of sunlight still let us hope for a very promising day. I allowed my view to wander and enjoy the gorgeous view of the skyline, which gradually appears before me. To the left below me I can make out an old time-honored buildings complex, which in my line of view reveals its full splendor – the Westminster Palace with its even more well-known clock tower ‘the Big Ben’. Just behind it the dome of Westminster Abbey appears and if I move my eyes towards the horizon, towering there above the rich green treetops of St. James Park, the roof of Buckingham Palace stands out. And I wonder of course whether the Queen is there today, but the many impressions of this grandiose skyline allow me to quickly forget these thoughts again. I turn to the right and allow my view to wander along the curves of the Thames. Here and there a ship is fighting its way through Britain’s capital city, past all the sights such as St. Paul‘s Cathedral and Tower Bridge. At the highest point of my journey both of them are now not too longer hidden from me, so that at this moment I easily count as one of the millions of people who can of course experience the same feeling each year: On a trip with the London Eye. Just like me, even at this early hour numerous tourists are certainly having a lot of fun enjoying easily the most impressive view of the City of London occurring in 30 minutes intervals. However I am still interested in a completely different aspect: How can the safety of the London Eye actually be guaranteed from a technical point of view? And for this my view is directed through the glass capsule directly to the hub of the big wheel. In the heart at the core here, the FAG Author: Dirk Schaar is editor-in-chief of MDA Technologies Acknowledgement I should like to thank Karen Preston and Chris Head of Schaeffler UK most heartily for their great support on site in London. My thanks go also to Dieter Göbel and Gerhard Halbig of Schaeffler in Schweinfurt, Germany who described the creation of the London Wheel to me impressively and naturally also to the company Coca-Cola, who made the interviews in the capsule possible for us. self-aligning roller bearings two meters (over six feet) across and weighing tons can be found and allows for a smooth turning action. From a new Perspective Location: Schweinfurt, Germany, the headquarters of Schaeffler’s industrial production. Here I am meeting Dieter Göbel, Application Engineering Wind Energy Turbines, and Gerhard Halbig, Department Manager Service Operations. Both men know the London Eye project like the back of their hand, as they were so-to-speak involved with it from the outset in the year 1995. But one at a time - in the closing years of the last century there was a large demand for visitor attractions and events in order to celebrate the start of the new millennium. The visionary architects David Marks and Julia Barfield had an amazingly simple yet bold idea: they wanted to create a beautiful and technologically innovative construction for London which would also allow visitors the opportunity to see one of the largest cities in the world from a new and stimulating perspective. Therefore they decided that a giant wheel would be the ideal step into the new millennium. And thus the idea was born. “In October 1995 we had already received the first technical enquiries to determine the cost of the bearings for the concept”, 14 MDA Technologies 1/2016

01 Editor-in-chief Dirk Schaar (center) meets Karen Preston and Chris Head in front of the London Eye Dieter Göbel recalls. The British airline company British Airways had commissioned a London-based consulting engineers office, which had in turn commissioned a Japanese group of companies with the overall project. “We tested the feasibility then and prepared a proposal which we presented once again in the second step in 1998 following corrections to the loading conditions. Our idea was to use two self-aligning roller bearings”, Dieter Göbel tells me. However the contract was finally placed with a competitor in Japan. “To our surprise in September 1998 we received a request for the design of the bearings for the London Eye from a Dutch company. In the meantime they had received the order for the construction work”, Halbig told me with amazement. The structure of the bearing was then immediately realized in October 1998 and the bearings specialist from Schweinfurt, Germany received the order to deliver it just one month later. However the conditions were tremendous, as the bearings had to be delivered within 20 weeks. “A great challenge, which we however wanted to take on, for we of course knew that we had the know-how required from numerous large-scale projects and over 100 years of tradition. Even then we were already seen as a preferred development partner and supplier where people were looking for special and intelligent bearing solutions”, Gerhard Halbig told me. A shrewd idea Up here at the highest point, I am already 100 meters (330 ft.) off the ground. The London Eye, which is operated by the company Merlin Entertainment plc, amongst the best in Europe for running visitor attractions, is over 135 m high overall, has a circumference of 424 m and an overall weight of over 2,100 tons. I enjoy my view from one of 10 impressive facts and figures about the London Eye n The London Eye can carry 800 guests per rotation – equivalent to 11 London red double decker busses. n You can see around 40 km from the top – as far as Windsor Castle on a clear day. n Each of the 32 capsules weighs 11 tonnes. To put that figure into perspective, it’s the same weight as 1,157,894 pound coins. n In one year the London Eye will rotate 7668 times, or 2300 miles, as far as from London to Cairo in Egypt. n Each rotation takes approximately 30 minutes, meaning that a capsule travels at a stately 26cm per second, or 0.9 km per hour – twice as fast as a tortoise sprinting. n It took seven years and the skills of hundreds of people from five countries to make the London Eye a reality. n The 80 spokes laid together would stretch for 6km n The total weight of the wheel and capsules is 2,100 tonnes – or as much as 1,272 London black cabs. n The spindle which holds the wheel structure is 23m long – the height of nine classic London red telephone boxes. n There are 32 capsules in total. For superstitious reasons they are numbered up to 33, with capsule 13 left out for good luck. MDA Technologies 1/2016 15

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