ABB completes Grecian cable-car refit in one night, without interrupting service

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A view of Athens.
ATHENS — Legend has it that the Ancient Greek goddess Athena dropped a rock in shock after bad news and out of it grew Mount Lycabettus. Today the mountain is one of Athens’ most popular tourist destinations, offering panoramic views across the city. Each year, thousands of visitors make the journey up its steep slopes – the few and fit by foot, the vast majority by cable car.

The cable car runs 18 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the operator — the Kastelorizo Group — would disappoint tourists if it failed to run. But the operator knew this was a real possibility because the cable car’s existing ACS611 regenerative drive was nearing the end of its normal lifespan. The cable car stalled more often, stranding visitors and forcing them to continue the journey on foot.

The operators of the cable car realized they needed to replace the old drives but were worried about the complexity of the job and how long it would take.

“Closing the cable car to proceed with installation wasn’t an option and when ABB suggested an over-night installation, we were doubtful” says Konstantinos Totsikas, Maintenance and Operations Super-visor of Kastelorizo Group. “We couldn’t risk the quality of our services and the satisfaction of the hundreds of people that visit us on a daily basis. However, based on a long history of quality from ABB, we decided to give their plan a try.”

In addition to the tight timeframe, ABB’s service engineers faced the complicated task of replacing the drive within its cabinet without removing any of the other equipment parts – a bit like a medical transplant. After step-by-step planning and checking all the documents and drawings, the team trav-eled up the mountain to install, commission, and program an ACS800-11 regenerative drive.

“We were under intense pressure, having to work at night for only a few hours, and without any mistakes because there was no time to do things over,” says Christos Skarlatakis, Local Product Group Manager, ABB Drive Services. “We kept thinking, what if we do everything like we’re supposed to and still the cable car doesn’t work? Although the customer trusted us, even they didn’t think anybody could make it in one night. But we did it.”

In addition to increasing the reliability of the equipment, this project brought Kastelorizo Group a range of other benefits.

The ACS800-11 regenerative drive is more compact which left enough space to install a second drive. This provides a back-up drive to ensure the cable car runs trouble free. The ACS800-11 regenerative drives also have improved DTC motor control so customers experience less motor noise and smoother operation of the cable car.

“We’ve not had any problems since this challenging project was so efficiently completed by ABB,” says Totsikas. “The cable car continues to work without glitches on a daily basis, transferring hundreds of people safely to the hills of Lycabettus.”

More information is available online. 

— From an ABB news release. May 12, 2020.
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