PM Case Study-Falkirk WheelPresentation Transcript
Near Falkirk in Scotland, the Forth & Clyde Canal meets with the Union Canal, however at their meeting point the two differ in height by approximately 115 feet.
Before the 1930s, travel between these canals was provided by a series of eleven conventional locks, but they became disused and were filled in about seventy-five years ago.
A brilliant, one-of-a-kind contraption was engineered which uses gravity and Archimedes’ principle to transfer boats between the two canals using very little electricity
The Wheel is essentially two huge, balanced water tanks suspended on arms which rotate around a central axis like a Ferris wheel.
Each tank can support up to four twenty-meter-long boats at one time. Boats move into the tanks through the lock gates, which displaces a mass of water from each tank equal to the weight of the vessels.
Archimedes principleFloating objects displace their own weight in water, so when the boat enters, the amount of water leaving the caisson weighs exactly the same as the boat.
The tanks are thus always equalized in weight, allowing the pull of gravity on the descending tank to do most of the work elevating the rising tank.
This balance allows the wheel to consume very little electricity per turn despite the enormous weight involved. It uses a mere 1.5 kilowatt- hours, or roughly the equivalent power needed to boil eight kettles of water, each time it hefts a 600 metric ton load. It does this in under four minutes per turn.
The Wheel’s design is truly revolutionary, as it is the only rotating boat lift in the world. Its beautiful form– reminiscent of a Celtic double-headed ax– and its graceful movement have made it a bit of a tourist destination, with a visitor’s center, a café, and landscaped grounds nestled in the natural amphitheater.
Features First structure of its kind in the world. Design life of at least 120 years. 35 metres high. 35 metres wide. 30 metres long. Each gondola contains at least 250,000 litres of water. Capable of carrying eight boats at a time. A single trip takes 15 minutes.
Construction The wheel was constructed by Butterley Engineering at Ripley in Derbyshire under Millennium Plans to reconnect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, mainly for recreational use.
Operation The wheel rotates together with the axle, which is supported by four-metre-diameter slewing bearings that are constructed on top of piled foundations. The slewing bearing has an inner ring gear which acts as a rotating annulus. The rotating annulus is driven by ten hydraulic motors on the planet carrier. The drive-shafts of the motors have pinion gears which act as stationary planetary gears in this train of gears and engage the rotating annulus ring gear. An electric motor drives a hydraulic pump which is connected to the hydraulic motors by means of hoses and drive the wheel at 1/8 revolution per minute.
Challenge BW Scotland chief civil engineer, George Ballinger had to complete a five year construction project in two.
Planning Bachy/Soletanche and Morrison (BSM) Construction Joint Venture won the contract to design and construct a new section of canal, a tunnel beneath the Antonine wall, a section of aqueduct, the wheel and receiving basin.
Planning The exemplar design was perceived as unsuitable by British Waterways, therefore a series of design workshops took place under the direction of the architect RMJM to improve on the aesthetics of the design. Team members were instructed to attend these workshops with just blank paper and an open mind. Two weeks of this style of brainstorming developed the actual design
Controlling UK design codes for bridges, buildings and floating vessels were utilised, as well as Norwegian, German and American codes for such criteria as thin walled cylinder behaviour and constrained ice loading. A 1:50 scale model was used in a wind-tunnel for testing aerodynamic effects. Finite element analysis using LUSAS Bridge aided the structural design and included nonlinear solid continuum modelling of movement sensitive connections.
Controlling The various parts of The Falkirk Wheel were actually constructed and assembled, like one giant Meccano set, at Butterley Engineering’s Steelworks in Derbyshire. A team there carefully assembled the 1,200 tonnes of steel, painstakingly fitting the pieces together to an accuracy of just 10 mm to ensure a perfect final fit.
Controlling In the summer of 2001, the structure was then dismantled and transported on 35 lorry loads to Falkirk, before all being bolted back together again on the ground, and finally lifted by crane in five large sections into position.
Controlling The total 600 tonne weight of the water and boat filled gondolas imposes immense and constantly changing stresses on the structure as it turns around the central spine.
Controlling Normal welded joints of steel would be susceptible to fatigue induced by these stresses, so to make the structure more robust, the steel sections were bolted together. Over 15,000 bolts were matched with 45,000 bolt holes, and each bolt was hand tightened.
Cost and pricing The Falkirk Wheel cost £17.5 million, and the restoration project as a whole cost £84.5 million (of which £32 million came from National Lottery funds). The Falkirk Wheel Visitor Centre offers scheduled one- hour, round trip boat tours, called "The Falkirk Wheel Experience", that include passage on the wheel. The tours start below the wheel in the Forth & Clyde Canal, ascend via the wheel to the Union Canal, visit nearby areas on the Union Canal, and then return. As of 2008, the boat tour costs £8 for adults, £4.25 for children aged 3-15 (free for children under 3), OAP concession £6.50, student/state benefits concession £6.50, and family price of £21.50 (2 adults and 2 children) with a discount of 10% for a group of 20 or more.
Due to flooding caused by vandals, there was a month’s delay before going into operation, but on 24 May 2002 the Falkirk Wheel officially opened as part of Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
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