Sydney Tower - Skywalk Engineering and Project Management

In October 2005, Skywalk, perched on top of Sydney Tower, Sydney's newest attraction was open. The opening was a culmination of a remarkable engineering feat above Sydney's CBD.

Skywalk, at 260 meters above street level, is a 'walk in the clouds' around the rooftop of Sydney Tower offering an outdoor walk across glass-floored viewing platforms giving 360° views of the city and way beyond to Sydney's golden beaches and Blue Mountains. Skywalk cost $6 million to construct and install and is the only high-altitude, outdoor experience of its kind in Australia.

DEXA worked closely with RM Baird & Associates, consulting Engineers on the Skywalk project. Together they undertook the electrical design of Skywalk's jaw-dropping moveable southern platform and safety interlocking systems. The southern glass platform includes four hydraulic rams to raise and lower the platform 2.4 metres between Skywalk's two pathways while another two hydraulics rams extend and retract the glass floor out and over the top of the tower.

DEXA developed the electrical CAD drawings, wrote the programming code for the PLC control system & safety system, manufactured electrical control panels, conducted off site Factory Acceptance Testing, SCADA programming and completed the on site electrical installation and final commissioning. All this and more while tackling a number of design, logistical and difficult site access issues due to the uniqueness of the project.

The control system utilised an Omron CJ1 PLC for the general operation of the attraction with a PILZ safety controller over seeing various safety aspects and interlocks. The southern glass platform is raised and lowered on four axis points by hydraulic rams. With the platform weighing in at over 8 tons, precise closed loop tracking and positioning of platform movement was achieved down to an error of less then 2mm, via Rexroth HNC100 hydraulic servo valve controllers. Ram positioning was detected by linear tempersonic's utilising an SSI interface. Device Net was used as a network communication bus, minimising on the required cabling between the main control panel and the various devices.

Designed to meet strict safety standards and comply with council regulations, Skywalk's construction has been likened to a giant Meccano project. After initial off site factory testing of the southern glass platform, it was dismantled to enable it to be transported to the top of Sydney Tower in the building's small lifts. In all, 2086 sections of steel were welded and bolted together to create Skywalk, with some of these weighing up to 450 kilograms and being manhandled into place by workers on the turret roof.

"DEXA brought a fantastic set of skills to the Sydney Tower Skywalk project. Thanks to this, we can safely say they now tower above other companies in their field." Peter McVeigh, RM Baird & Associates Consulting Enigneerins on the Sydney Tower Skywalk.

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