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Working safely at dizzying heights

Skyscraper cleaning and maintenance staff rely on the high-quality facade access systems from Manntech. Manntech is part of the Alimak Group and provides innovative, tailored facade access solutions worldwide. When it comes to electrical cables, a partner is required who offers durable and high-quality products for harsh and demanding environmental conditions. Manntech relies on LAPP as the trusted brand of choice.

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Manntech is developing a sophisticated, customized solution for facade maintenance of the Porsche Design Tower.

If you have a fear of heights, this job is not for you: window cleaner working at the Porsche Design Tower in Stuttgart. The high-rise building reaches a height of 90 metres, with 25 floors housing offices, restaurants, a hotel, and a bar with spectacular view of Stuttgart’s Killesberg and the Neckar valley. On the tenth floor, you can find a terrace that visually breaks the glass front. This architectural feature is a challenge for maintenance personnel. Conventional work platforms, which are lowered from the roof, would touch down on the terrace, and a transition to the lower floors would not be possible.

Tailored solutions for challenging facades

The solution: a stationary building maintenance unit with a double telescopic boom and a guided cable system anchored to the roof of the building. This allows the facades of the upper and lower parts of the building to be reached separately. The sophisticated design was developed and constructed by Manntech. Founded in 1953 by Mannesmann, the company is a specialist in high-quality and tailored solutions for facade construction and building maintenance – wherever standard systems do not work, such as in the case of high-rise constructions, facades with numerous projections and recesses, slanting or aspherical roofs. The product range includes facade access systems, facade lifts, cross-transfer carriages, ladders, lifting tables, abseiling systems, fall-protection systems, scaffolding and much more.

Around a hundred such systems leave the Manntech plant in Mammendorf every year, destined for buildings all over the world. The company has been part of the Alimak Group since 2017. “Our solutions allow customers to clean, service and maintain buildings in a cost-effective, safe and unobtrusive manner,” says Gerhard Zeitler, Head of Sales at Manntech. “We are not the biggest player in the industry, but we aspire to be the best – we are the technology leader in our field.”

The Porsche Design Tower in Stuttgart is 90 meters high and allows a spectacular view.

Sensors for safe and efficient maintenance

This makes Manntech a pioneer in remote and predictive maintenance. Sensors report constantly from anywhere in the world on where the rig of the facade access system is located and its movements. This allows the building cleaner to drive along the facade and digitally record any detected damage. In the past, they would have had to write this down on a piece of paper, indicating the rough position. Now, technicians immediately find the place and can repair the facade.

Manntech is also popular with architects because the systems are known for not disrupting the aesthetics of the design. For the World Trade Center in Abu Dhabi designed by Norman Foster, the company produced rails that can be mounted on the roof despite its 55-degree inclination. The rails were measured using a laser, whereby everything needed to be accurate down to the millimetre, and special cooling is also required. Manntech was the only supplier who was able to meet the architect’s design and technical requirements. It took 60 weeks of development work, and everything was tested using prototypes. The system is equipped with sensors with absolute value measurement. This means that it is always possible to see exactly where the rig is located and how it is moving. This provides a significantly higher level of safety for the maintenance personnel.

Expertise and impulses from LAPP

Systems such as these need to function without failures for many years, even in the face of wind, weathering, and high levels of UV radiation. After all, human lives depend on it. Replacing defective components is very difficult and time-consuming. Each country also has different requirements and standards. When looking for suppliers, they can therefore only consider partners who can offer robust quality and tailored variety. When it comes to cables, Manntech relies exclusively on LAPP. ÖLFLEX® cables, UNITRONIC® data cables, various plug connectors and cable conduits are the most common products. “We value fast communication”, commends Richard Horkavy, Head of Development at Manntech. “Our contacts at LAPP always have an open ear and can quickly find a custom solution that fits our requirements.” Manntech also expects suppliers to take the technological lead. “We are open to impulses and innovations”, says Horkavy, “we can learn a lot from LAPP’s expertise, for example when it comes to efficient warehouse processes in production and assembly.”

Manntech relies on durable and high-quality products from LAPP and appreciates the joint cooperation.

Facade access system for a World Cultural Heritage

The next opportunity for this is a very challenging new project, where Manntech is once again relying on solutions from LAPP. Manntech is currently constructing a maintenance and access system for one of the most famous bridges in the world in Australia. The bridge is a World Cultural Heritage that must not be changed. Drilling new holes into the bridge structure is not permitted. The installation is therefore set up on the bridge and held via 1400 special bolts. It consists of two motorised gantries, two different access units for a total of six available cradles, two drive bogies and two material trolleys. Sensors ensure safety and communication. “In Mammendorf, the bridge was replicated and tested at different temperatures and wind speeds,” reports Dieter Eichler, Plant Manager at Manntech. Another challenge is the colour of the maintenance and access system: it must be adapted precisely to the shade of the bridge. Also in this project, Manntech can meet its customer’s aesthetic and technical requirements and offer a solution that enables maintenance work to be carried out efficiently and safely.

“Such exciting projects make collaboration with Manntech extremely attractive – for both partners,” says Markus Schreiber, Account Manager at LAPP. On the one hand, LAPP’s expertise and brand products, from ÖLFLEX® to HITRONIC®, support the implementation of innovative and sophisticated safety solutions. On the other hand, LAPP is learning a lot from Manntech about future application requirements such as data acquisition and transmission under challenging conditions. Markus Schreiber explains: “This is a great partnership. We still have a lot of plans together for the future.”

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