The “Three Centers” of Changde
Suzhou Rhine keeps things straight in a diagonal shaft.
The “Three Centers” building in Changde City, China, provides educational opportunities for children and young adults interested in science and technology. Located on Baima Lake in Hunan Province, the 48-m-tall building houses three separate centers: the Science and Technology Exhibition Hall, the Pavilion for Women and Children, and the Youth Center. A high-powered telescope on the top floor of the science center allows children to observe the universe.
In 2012, Suzhou Rhine Lift Manufacture Co., Ltd. designed and produced an inclined traction elevator for the building. The car is 1,450-mm wide by 2,250-mm high by 1,600-mm deep, and the doors are 900 mm by 2,100 mm. The elevator carries a maximum of 13 people (1000 kg) at 1.5 mps along a 37-m-long shaft with seven stops.
The project was not without its difficulties during the design, production and installation phases. The building’s 76° slant presented a challenge to the usual vertical-shaft configuration, so the design of the guide-rail arrangement and traveling cable called for innovation. The project was successfully completed and delivered on July 18, 2015.
The elevator has six guide rails: two on each side of the counterweight frame and four for the car (two on top and two on the bottom). The two guide rails under the car carry most of the weight, while the two upper guide rails keep the car running in the limited range set by the rails. A group of guide rails are used by the safety gear for emergency braking.
At first, one set of guide rails for the car was considered, but, since the stability of the car cannot be guaranteed by only one supporting point, a two-column guide-rail plan was adopted. This arrangement interrupted the installation process a number of times due to guide-rail adjustment and verification. In terms of production, this innovative arrangement also presented a challenge to company technicians. This reliable car structure employs dual gantry beams with a strong connection between them.
Since the elevator is running along an inclined plane, the traveling cable cannot sag under its own weight. Otherwise, it would strike against parts within the hoistway and be unable to travel with the car. So, a cable slot was installed behind the car. With the fixed point of the cable set on the car frame, the cable sags into the slot – due to gravity – and travels inside the slot as the car runs, since the slot and the guide rails share the same angle of inclination. This way, the cable will never go out of, but only travel inside, the slot. A number of unique designs and adjustments of the traction-machine arrangement, structure of the guide shoes, buffer arrangement, speed-governor arrangement and installation of the door blades were also made.
Since the elevator runs along an inclined plane, the trailing cable cannot rely on its own weight. Arranged by vertical lift, the cable linked to the member is bound inside the elevator shaft, unable to follow the car run. So, it uses the slot to follow. To the rear of the car in the hoistway, a trough is set up. A fixed point for the trailing cable is fixed on the car rack. The cable sags, due to gravity, to the rear of the car’s trough. Running through the car, it pulls the trailing cable through the slots up and down the elevator, because the track is the same angle of inclination. This way, the elevator never runs out of trailing cable, so the accompanying cable follows reliably.