thyssenkrupp Elevator, Rottweil Test Tower
Tailor-made elegance of glass fabric and steel
High above the Swabian Jura and Black Forest stands a technological landmark, test lab and lightweight structure in one. The HFI-welded steel tubes for the substructure of its unique and innovative textile façade were supplied by Mannesmann Line Pipe.
“What’s the best way to test elevators?«, the development engineers of thyssen-krupp Elevator may well have asked themselves before building this top-class test laboratory. A simple question, and a plausible answer – under authentic conditions.
But if you’re interested not only in testing but also in conducting practical research, you need a building that’s as tall as possible. And one with a large number of elevator shafts that are rarely in use. And, failing the existence of such a building, then it has to be built – or, as in this case, dreamed up, designed and then built.
Architecture and elevators that change the world
And now that the Test Tower in the idyllic countryside of Rottweil has been built, the architecture and elevators have the potential to change the cities of the future for good. Two key themes have been addressed here in a single structure: resource-conserving construction and efficient passenger transportation in the high-rise of the future.
Intelligent tower envelope
The tower’s load-bearing system consists of a reinforced concrete tube measuring almost 21 meters in diameter and a multifunctional membrane envelope. The latter not only makes it more attractive, but also plays an important part in reducing the tower’s exposure to thermal and wind loads. The membrane’s strategy thus enables a sustainable, material-saving and futuristic building design. The membrane has been attached to a spiral tubular steel substructure that describes a highly aerodynamic helix.
MULTI – the elevator of the future
Today, half of the world’s population lives in towns. And this share will increase to 70 percent by the end of the century. For numerous future challenges, high-rise buildings represent the most efficient solution economically and ecologically. It is therefore essential that tall buildings can be efficiently accessed as part of the forward-looking strategies of modern and intelligent cities.
Reason enough, then, to rethink the basically 160-year-old concept of the conventional elevator. With 10 test shafts and travel speeds of up to 18 m/s, the Test Tower offers previously undreamt-of experimental opportunities. With the MULTI system, for example, the world’s first-ever cable-free elevator. With this highly innovative approach, several lift cabins can be propelled at the same time in a single shaft. By adopting the technology of the magnetic levitation (maglev) train, transportation performance can be boosted by up to 50 percent and the space required in buildings considerably reduced. This will make it possible to build tower blocks with a slimmer core and much reduced mass.
The Test Tower is the only high-rise structure worldwide that can be artificially made to sway.
Perfect test environment
To prevent the tower from swaying even when exposed to the highest wind loads, a pendulum damper system weighing 240 metric tons has been installed – as conventionally in many tall buildings – at a height of 200 m. So far, what you would expect. But the damper system in Rottweil can also be artificially reversed. The Test Tower is thus the world’s only high-rise structure that can be deliberately made to sway. The goal, after all, was to be able to test elevators in authentic conditions – inclusive of simulated wind loads and earthquake tremors.
Perfect-fit steel tubes
Mannesmann Line Pipe supplied the HFI-welded tubes with a diameter of 356.6 mm and a tube wall thickness of 10 mm on behalf of thyssenkrupp Schulte in Leipzig to STURM Metallbearbeitung in Daaden. There the tubes were given the specified radii in a cold bending process and primed for further processing.
The membrane’s Teflon coating keeps it permanently white.
Challenging installation work
While the construction of the tower’s reinforced concrete tube proceeded bottom-up, the attachment of the outer membrane was to go top-down. The specially designed platforms were built in a ring around the tower and lowered bit by bit. Problems were posed, however, by the inclement and changeable weather in summer 2017, causing work to be suspended several times. To make up for lost time, 20 experienced industrial climbers were in action in two shifts around the clock to attach the membrane.
17,000 m² of high tech
The membrane itself is also newly developed. The material consists of glass fibers and was developed in Munich, produced in Krefeld and cut to size in Poland, having been previously tested and approved at DEKRA in Stuttgart. What at the start of installation looked like faulty material was soon rectified by the sun. The material of the approx. 12 x 18 meter hydraulically pre-tensioned lengths was bleached by UV radiation, and the dirt-repellent Teflon coating keeps it permanently white. Against a bright blue sky, this is undoubtedly the most appropriate color for the new technological landmark in Germany’s Southwest.
The Test Tower in figures
The visitor platform at a height of 232 m is the highest in Germany.
Tower height: 246 meters
Membrane: approx. 17,000 m²
Lift shafts: 12
(including visitors’ and emergency lift)
Opening hours for visitors:
Fri 10am – 6pm · Sat 10am – 8pm
Sun/public holidays 10am – 6pm
Interview with Cay-Hubertus Fink, Sales Manager Tubes at thyssenkrupp Schulte, Leipzig branch
Cay-Hubertus Fink is a veritable institution when it comes to trading with tubes. Born in Hannover, he has been in the industry for 45 years and seen it all in his time. In an interview with Konrad Thannbichler, Head of Sales, he shares a few insights into his work and cooperation with Mannesmann Line Pipe.
Mannesmann has always stood for quality, dependability and sound technical advice.Cay-Hubertus Fink
Mr. Fink, how would you describe cooperation with Mannesmann Line Pipe?
I’ve been a customer of Mannesmann Line Pipe and its predecessor companies for over 40 years. Cooperation in my view has been extremely productive. I have close relations with my contacts and we cultivate an open and personal exchange of views.
What has changed in your view over the years?
A lot of factors have changed compared to the old days. We live in a globalized and digitalized world where there’s growing transparency and more suppliers in the marketplace. Whereas previously we used to focus on the German market, we are now active all over the world. Purchasing has also changed. Needs used to be pooled in group purchasing organizations and were easier to process. Today, orders are much more fragmented.
You were involved in the construction of the thyssenkrupp Test Tower. What materials did you supply?
We supplied roughly 300 metric tons of HFI-welded steel tubes for the outer façade. Cooperation with Mannesmann Line Pipe went very smoothly and all the delivery deadlines were complied with.
How do you like our company name ‘Mannesmann Line Pipe’ with the emphasis on the Mannesmann brand?
I did my training at Mannesmann, which makes me one of the ‘old school’. As a former employee, I obviously like the fact that the name of Mannesmann is now being stressed again. It was basically a shame to see that for a number of years the name didn’t get the prominence that it deserves.
For you as a trader, does the name of Mannesmann mean anything to customers?
Sure, Mannesmann has always stood for quality, dependability and sound technical advice.
thyssenkrupp Schulte is a supplier respected even by the competition throughout Germany. What are the reasons for its success?
We engage with our customers on an equal footing and have been among the market leaders as a materials trader for over 120 years. Our expertise in terms of products, technical advice and logistics makes us an ideal partner for the further-processing industry. Another decisive key to our success is our proximity to our customers. We provide a nationwide network with over 40 branches and our own warehouses. Through our own efficient logistics system, we are capable of offering our customers reliable supplies and superlative service quality right across Germany.
There has been a lot of comment recently that tube, pipe and steel business as a whole could be transferred onto the Web. Classic traders would then be superfluous. What’s your take on this?
Digitization is of course a major talking point for us and we have already set up online portals for our customers and private individuals to make further channels available. Personally, I believe it will be important to look hard at digitization and work out solutions. Obviously, materials will of course be sold in the future via the Internet. But I also believe that it will still be important to offer personal contact and score as a trader with technical advice, expertise, and solutions tailored to each customer.
What could Mannesmann Line Pipe do even better as a supplier?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m basically very happy with our cooperation. The flow of information on price trends could maybe be improved. It could be a bit quicker.
Many thanks for the interview.
thyssenkrupp Elevator comprises the Group’s global activities in thyssenkrupp’s passenger transportation business area. With sales of € 7.7 billion in fiscal year 2016/17 and customers in 150 countries, thyssenkrupp Elevator has established itself as one of the world’s leading elevator companies since entering the market 40 years ago.
Having built the test and development center in Rottweil, the company is capable of supplying technologically leading and tested systems for the world’s tallest buildings.