Rexroth drives keep the giant Ferris wheel of the London Eye turning and they actuate the opening mechanism for Tower Bridge and they raise the gates of the Thames Barrier, which protects the city against storm and spring floods from the North Sea. Europe's tallest Ferris wheel draws more than 3.5 million visitors, who, from a height of 135 meters, can enjoy views over the whole of London. The wheel, together with its 32 capsules that are almost fully glazed, rotates at 26 cm per second; a constant speed that is delivered by 16 hydraulic drive wheels. One particularly important feature is that all drive functions are duplicated, in order to guarantee maximum safety. The slow speed enables passengers to enter and exit the capsules while the wheel is moving. On a clear day, these passengers can see up to 40 km across London.
Tower Bridge is a London landmark that has been on the scene for much longer. This bascule bridge opens up to a thousand times a year to allow boats with high superstructures or sailing masts to pass through, with each opening lasting around a minute. As part of a modernization project, Rexroth planned the drive and control solution for the opening mechanism for the sections of bridge, which weigh around 1,000 tons. The modern hydraulics also protect the historic structure against damage caused by heavy goods traffic. Hydraulically adjustable wedges ensure that any forces and vibrations that occur are dissipated evenly.
A short trip downstream along the Thames brings you to the Thames Barrier, one of the largest flood barriers in Europe. The barrier stretches for 520 meters across the Thames and comprises ten movable gates. Under normal conditions, these gates rest on the river bed, so that river traffic can pass through unhindered. However, during storm or spring floods, the North Sea drives enormous quantities of water into the Thames, threatening to flood the British capital. In the course of a gradual program Rexroth refurbished the drive solution of the Bravo Gate, which is 30 meter wide. When danger looms, it raises the gate within 15 minutes. Eight more gates will be modernized in the near future. Incidentally, those wanting to witness the spectacle do not have to wait for a flood to occur: the gates are raised once a month for maintenance purposes. The next dates on which the gates will be raised is September 4.