21.08.2023 | PV/flat roofs

Locher brewery in Appenzell - how the photovoltaic system on the roof was protected against falls from a height

5,302 square metres… that is the total area of the PV system on the roof of the Locher brewery in Appenzell. It provides a performance of 1,098 kWp overall. For maintenance or servicing work, this area had to be protected against falls from a height. Find out below how the project turned out, the challenges which had to be overcome, and how the solution looked.

3 Ratings

Specialist series:

Safety at work is a must. We want our employees to go home safe in the evening.

Hans Sonderegger
Brewery in Switzerland relies on TAURUS

The Locher brewery sets store by green energy

Green landscape, a blue sky overhead, and in the middle of Appenzell the Locher brewery, the largest privately owned Swiss brewery. A building with a unique facade rises above the Industriestrasse. The facade structure of the building where the famous beer and drink specialities are produced consists of a dozen giant beer glasses placed next to each other. The drinks producer has long been committed to environmental protection.

“We want to be as eco-friendly as possible when we work and, like any company, we also have to pay attention to economic viability. With our own solar power, these two objectives can be optimally achieved”, says Hans Sonderegger, board member of Brauerei Locher AG. For that reason, from 2019 a large photovoltaic system on the production plant was planned. It was implemented between 2020 and 2021 by Solarmotion AG. The TAURUS rail system, already deployed for numerous other Swiss photovoltaic projects, was installed directly onto the K2 substructure as a fall protection system for maintenance or servicing work. 


The challenges lay in the preparation

The oldest building was constructed in 2000. The flat roof had to be renovated before the photovoltaic system could be installed there. For this, the focus was on roof penetrations and on sealing the roof. The roof membrane on all existing buildings was therefore inspected for leaks, and replaced if necessary.

This was one of the reasons why, in terms of fall protection, the choice fell on the TAURUS rail safety system installed directly onto the K2 substructure. Because the PV system itself serves as ballast, and in addition masonry is used to provide additional weight, no roof penetrations were necessary. 

“The system is designed in such a way that the wind loads can also be absorbed”, says Michael Bischoff, Industrial Safety Manager at Merz + Egger AG. The company provided consultancy, design, and installation of the fall protection system. The height differences between the four buildings presented a further challenge. Numerous ascent ladders allow transition between the different roof levels. 

Appenzell Brewery - safe PV systems on the roof thanks to TAURUS and AIO
TAURUS secures PV systems on the roof - Appenzell Brewery

TAURUS rail system on the K2 substructure - a compact solution

Before the renovation of the flat roof, single anchor points were present for fall protection. These were then replaced by the TAURUS rail system. “Wherever possible we installed rails, together with cables in exposed locations. Tasks on the roof, such as inspection of the seals or of the photovoltaics, can now be performed quickly and more safely. You can move really freely, and the safety device simply runs along with you on cable or rail”, says Bischoff. 

A total of 336 metres of TAURUS and 296 metres of AIO lifeline system, plus various single anchor points were installed, and they now ensure safety on the roof. The rail safety system was installed directly on the K2 substructure, and so it was possible to cover the entire roof surface optimally with PV modules. With this safety solution, shadowing on the PV system is a thing of the past. 

Hans Sonderegger from the Locher brewery confirms his great satisfaction with the fall protection system: “Safety at work is a must. We want our employees to go home safe in the evening. Thanks to the fall protection system, this is also ensured when working on roofs.” According to Curdin Erne, manager of the Swiss subsidiary of INNOTECH Arbeitsschutz AG, this example demonstrates the great flexibility of TAURUS: “Thanks to this versatile fall protection system, there is no problem in implementation, even for large and complex photovoltaic projects”. The enormous adaptability of the certified rail system means that even curves and inclines are easily, and more importantly, continuously protected. 

Our definitive guide contains more to discover about fall protection for photovoltaic systems on a roof. 

New call-to-action