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16.03.2023 / Special projects / Christoph Ortner

Secure facade cleaning even in places that are difficult to access

University of Wuppertal - Germany

A special facade project took us to the University of Wuppertal in western Germany. A partial renovation of the existing glass curtain and of the concrete curtain facade was carried out there. 


In the course of this, INNOTECH fall protection systems were installed, also in order that future servicing, cleaning, and maintenance tasks along the facades can be performed in safety.


The following blog post tells you about the solution, why it was implemented, and the challenges which had to be overcome in this project.



General description of the project

The University of Wuppertal is located in Bergen (Germany), an industrial, business, education, and cultural centre. Part of the university, more precisely the glass curtain and concrete curtain facade (servicing balconies) was renovated. 


In general, when protecting facades, what really matters is retention of appearance. This should not and must not be impaired by the fall protection system. In other words, in this project the appearance of the university building had to be protected.


A holistic safety concept was therefore developed, in which all ascents and transits were taken into account. This would allow future facade tasks to be performed in safety at all times.


In addition, there had to be a system by which the cleaners could in future position themselves anywhere along the facade to undertake their cleaning activities. But protected access to the facade was also required for other maintenance purposes, such as the replacement of a facade element. 


Project implementation took one and a half years. 



Two facade types – numerous challenges

In principle, cleaning of the glass curtain facade is scheduled at least twice per year. A particular challenge was to protect the transit from the servicing balcony (concrete curtain facade) to the glass curtain facade.


In addition, a system was required which enabled rope access technology, so that the users could position themselves at any desired point along the facade.


The concrete curtain facade dates back to the 1960s and consists of 10 cm thick concrete. However, it is not possible to impose a load of even 1 g on the facade.


It was therefore necessary to drill through the thick concrete layer and to mount the chosen safety system onto the substructure. Every single work step had to be performed with extreme care!





AIO and TAURUS in combination

The solution for this exciting facade project lay in our AIO lifeline system, and the TAURUS rail system. The servicing balconies and thus the concrete curtain facade were equipped with the lifeline system (of approx. 150 m) in an overhead version.


However, no standard solution could be used for this project; instead an AIO system with corner sets was used as a customised solution. And so continuous movement around the servicing balconies was and is possible without detaching.


At the end of each servicing balcony it is possible to re-attach safely into the TAURUS rail safety system. A rail system having a total length of 200 m was installed.


As a result, it is possible to access the glass curtain facade safely, and then to position oneself along the system (and therefore the facade) by means of rope access technology


The continuous safety concept creates optimum safety for the users. The TAURUS rail system was mounted on vertical STA posts using TAURUS-BEF-30 as connectors. Because of the existing substructure, the post spacings had to be reduced to less than a metre.


Various load tests were performed regularly as early as the construction phase. In addition, the TAURUS rail system with TAURUS-BEF-10 was then installed on the concrete facade. 




  • Combination of the systems ensures continuous safety: our safety systems are ideally compatible with each other. This allows continuously safe transits and access without any problems. 
  • Positioning at different locations on the facade: our rail safety system and the process of rope access technology allow the facade to be cleaned right along the system at inaccessible positions. 


  • Optimum integration with the facade: our systems were planned from a very early stage in the project, and so it was possible to retain the aesthetics of the university building at all times.



You will find further information about fall protection and facades in our “Guidelines for safe facades”. 



Checkliste facades fall protection
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Über den Autor

Christoph Ortner

Christoph Ortner

Christoph Ortner has been the Head of Corporate Sales of the INNOTECH Group since 2020. He started in 2011 in the planning department of the family-run company. After a short time, he moved to the sales field service and then to the export team. Thanks to his many years of expertise, Ortner knows what is important in the sales area and is responsible for coordinating sales activities.

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Founded in 2001, INNOTECH Arbeitsschutz is a family-owned company with headquarters in Kirchham and branch offices in Germany and Switzerland. With a dedicated research and development team, INNOTECH soon set international standards in the area of occupational safety. Ever since, it has driven forward the further development of innovative products. Today INNOTECH is one of the largest manufacturers in Europe which has specialised exclusively in the production of safety systems, with 88% from its own manufacture, in order to guarantee maximum quality.

According to various statistics, several hundred people have an accident on roofs every year. Accidents that could have been prevented with appropriate safety equipment and the diligent installation of high-quality fall protection systems.

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