(19)
(11)EP 3 501 933 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
26.06.2019 Bulletin 2019/26

(21)Application number: 18215786.7

(22)Date of filing:  21.12.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B61B 9/00(2006.01)
B61F 5/52(2006.01)
B61B 12/12(2006.01)
B61F 9/00(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 22.12.2017 IT 201700149393

(71)Applicant: LEITNER S.p.A.
39049 Vipiteno (BZ) (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • CONTE, Giuseppe
    39100 Bolzano (IT)
  • COCO, Franco
    39055 Laives (BZ) (IT)

(74)Representative: Eccetto, Mauro et al
Studio Torta S.p.A. Via Viotti, 9
10121 Torino
10121 Torino (IT)

  


(54)CABLE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR TRANSPORTING PEOPLE OR GOODS AND CLAMP FOR A VEHICLE OF A CABLE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM


(57) A cable transportation system (1) for transporting people or goods defines an advancing path (P) extending between two end stations (2, 3) and having a given length L, and has a hauling cable (4) looped into a closed ring and having a forward branch (9) and a return branch (10), which extend between the end stations (2, 3); at least one vehicle (11) configured to be alternately advanced between the two end stations (2; 3), and selectively and alternately clamped to the forward branch (9) and the return branch (10) of the hauling cable at the end stations (2, 3); and a drive member (7) for advancing the hauling cable along the advancing path (P) and selectively stopping the hauling cable (4) when the vehicle (11) clamped to the hauling cable (4) is at one end station (2; 3).




Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS



[0001] This patent application claims priority from Italian patent application no. 102017000149393 filed on December 22, 2017.

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0002] The present invention relates to a cable transportation system for transporting people or goods.

BACKGROUND ART



[0003] In particular, the present invention relates to a cable transportation system extending between two end stations and typically defined as "back-and-forth". The cable transportation system comprises at least one vehicle that is alternately advanced between the end stations in opposite directions by a hauling cable.

[0004] In this type of cable transportation systems, the direction of advancement of the vehicle must be reversed every time the vehicle reaches one of the two end stations. A known method for reversing the direction of the vehicle at the end stations consists in stopping the hauling cable and the vehicle clamped to the hauling cable at the end station and reversing the direction of advancement of the hauling cable, and consequently the direction of advancement of the vehicle. Although this motion reversal method is relatively simple because the vehicle is constantly clamped to the hauling cable, the cyclical motion reversal requires that such cable transportation systems can only move two separate vehicles, which necessarily travel in opposite directions between the two end stations.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION



[0005] One object of the present invention is to provide a cable transportation system, which is free from the drawbacks of the prior art.

[0006] In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a cable transportation system for transporting people or goods, the cable transportation system comprising:
  • an advancing path extending between two end stations and having a given length L;
  • a hauling cable looped into a closed ring and having a forward branch and a return branch, which extend between the end stations; and
  • at least one vehicle configured to be alternately advanced between the two end stations, and selectively and alternately clamped to the forward branch and the return branch of the hauling cable at the end stations;
  • a drive member for advancing the hauling cable along the advancing path and selectively stopping the hauling cable when the vehicle clamped to the hauling cable is at one end station.


[0007] Thanks to the present invention, the hauling cable is advanced in the same direction of advancement.

[0008] The system comprises a single lane between the end stations along most of the advancing path.

[0009] In general, the system comprises a number N of vehicles operating along the advancing path, and a number N-1 of local lane redoublings between the end stations; the end stations and the redoublings being distributed with a constant pitch along the advancing path.

[0010] Under certain conditions, it is therefore possible to provide a system with a plurality of vehicles operating simultaneously, and in this case it is advantageous to provide a stop station at each lane redoubling.

[0011] In accordance with the present invention, the forward branch and the return branch are parallel to each other and arranged side by side at each end station.
This solution facilitates the release of one of the forward branch and the return branch, as well as the subsequent clamping of one of the forward branch and the return branch.

[0012] In particular, the vehicle comprises a frame; at least one clamp, which is arranged underneath the frame and mounted on the frame in a selectively rotatable manner about a rotation axis and comprises two jaws arranged on one side of the rotation axis and configured for selectively clamping and releasing the hauling cable; a control member, which is configured for opening and closing the jaws and arranged on the opposite side of the jaws with respect to the rotation axis; and an actuator for selectively rotating the clamp about the rotation axis between two working positions arranged at 180° from each other.

[0013] The rotating clamp allows the jaws of the clamp to be arranged at the forward branch and the return branch of the hauling cable, and hence the direction of advancement of the vehicle to be reversed.

[0014] In particular, the control member of the clamp is arranged at a distance from the rotation axis shorter than the distance of the jaws from the rotation axis.

[0015] In other words, in a plan view, the control member is arranged between the forward branch and the return branch and does not interfere with the hauling cable in any position assumed by the clamp.

[0016] In particular, the actuator is configured to rotate the clamp about the rotation axis in one of two opposite directions so that in each working position the clamp abuts against a respective abutment.

[0017] In particular, the vehicle comprises a bogie, said clamp being mounted on the bogie. From the constructional point of view, the bogie has a solid frame capable of housing a large shaft and transmitting the traction force to the vehicle.

[0018] In particular, the system comprises, at each end station, a control device configured to open and close the jaws when the vehicle is stationary and the clamp is arranged in either of the two working positions. In practice, this is a control device with a predefined position, whereby the vehicle is stopped in order to arrange the clamp at the control device.

[0019] In greater detail, the control device comprises a first control mechanism configured to cooperate with the control member when the clamp is in the first working position; and a second control mechanism configured to cooperate with the control member when the clamp is in the second working position. The two mechanisms are actuated independently to guarantee maximum flexibility of the system.

[0020] In particular, each control mechanism is selectively moveable between a rest position, in which it does not cooperate with the clamp, and a working position, in which it cooperates with the control member of the clamp. In this way, the jaws of the clamp can be selectively opened and closed.

[0021] In accordance with the present invention, the system comprises, at each end station, a spacing device for the forward branch and a spacing device for the return branch for pulling out the hauling cable from the open jaws and allowing the rotation of the clamp about the rotation axis at each end station, and inserting the hauling cable between the open jaws.

[0022] In this way, the hauling cable can be selectively under the bulk of the clamp.

[0023] In practice, the spacing device comprises two rollers for selectively raising and lowering a section of the hauling cable.

[0024] A further object of the present invention is to provide a cable transportation method for transporting people or goods, which is free from the drawbacks of the prior art.

[0025] In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a cable transportation method for transporting people or goods, the method comprising the steps of:
  • alternately advancing at least one vehicle along an advancing path extending between two end stations and having a given length L;
  • advancing a hauling cable along the advancing path;
  • selectively stopping the hauling cable when the vehicle clamped to the hauling cable is at an end station; and
  • selectively and alternately clamping the vehicle to the forward branch and the return branch of the hauling cable at the end stations.


[0026] In this way, the vehicle may be alternately advanced between the two end stations, while the cable is advanced in the same direction.

[0027] In particular, the method comprises guiding the forward branch and the return branch so as to keep the forward branch and the return branch parallel to each other and arranged side by side at least at the end stations.

[0028] The particular position of the forward and return branches facilitates the release of one of the forward branch and the return branch, as well as the subsequent clamping to one of the forward branch and the return branch.

[0029] In particular, the method comprises selectively rotating a clamp about a rotation axis with respect to a frame of the vehicle for selectively arranging the jaws of the clamp at the forward branch, in a first working position, and at the return branch, in a second working position.

[0030] Thanks to the present invention, a single clamp is sufficient to clamp the vehicle to the forward branch and the return branch.

[0031] In particular, the method comprises opening and closing the jaws at each end station and in both working positions of the clamp.

[0032] The opening of the clamp requires control devices arranged at the end stations.

[0033] In accordance with the present invention, the method comprises spacing the hauling cable and the clamp apart and allowing the rotation of the clamp about the rotation axis at each end station.

[0034] The present invention also relates to a clamp for a vehicle of a cable transportation system, which is free from the drawbacks of the prior art.

[0035] In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a clamp for a vehicle of a cable transportation system, the clamp being configured to be arranged underneath a frame of a vehicle and mounted on the frame in a selectively rotatable manner about a rotation axis and comprising two jaws arranged on one side of the rotation axis and configured for selectively releasing and clamping at least one hauling cable; a control member, which is configured for opening and closing the jaws and arranged on the opposite side of the jaws with respect to the rotation axis; and an actuator for selectively rotating the clamp about the rotation axis between two working positions arranged at 180° from each other.

[0036] In this way, the vehicle may be connected to a forward branch and a return branch of the same cable or to two parallel branches of two respective cables.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0037] Further features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description of non-limiting embodiments thereof, with reference to the figures of the accompanying drawings, wherein:
  • Figures 1 to 3 are schematic plan views, with parts removed for clarity, of a first embodiment of a cable transportation system constructed in accordance with the present invention;
  • Figure 4 is a cross-sectional view in enlarged scale, with parts in section and parts removed for clarity, of a detail of the system object of the present invention;
  • Figure 5 is an enlarged-scale view in longitudinal section, with parts in section and parts removed for clarity, of a detail of the system object of the present invention; and
  • Figures 6 to 11 are schematic plan views, with parts removed for clarity, of a second embodiment of the cable transportation system constructed in accordance with the present invention.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION



[0038] With reference to Figures 1 to 3, the numeral 1 indicates, as a whole, a cable transportation system of the "back-and-forth" type.

[0039] With reference to Figure 1, the system 1 extends along a predetermined path P between two end stations 2 and 3 and comprises a hauling cable 4 looped into a ring about a drive pulley 5 and a return pulley 6 arranged at the end stations 2 and 3, respectively. The drive pulley 5 is actuated by a drive member 7, in this case a permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor.

[0040] The system 1 has a single lane between the two end stations 2 and 3 and comprises two parallel rails 8, which extend from the end station 2 to the end station 3 and, together with the hauling cable 4, define the lane.

[0041] The hauling cable 4 is arranged between the rails 8 and defines, along the lane, a forward branch 9 and a return branch 10, which are guided so as to be substantially parallel to each other and arranged side by side along the lane.

[0042] The system 1 comprises a vehicle 11, which is configured to be advanced along the rails 8 by the hauling cable 4 in a direction D1 and in direction D2 opposite to direction D1. The vehicle 11 is configured to be selectively and alternately clamped to the forward branch 9 and the return branch 10 of the hauling cable 4 when the vehicle 11 is stationary at the end stations 2 and 3 by means of a clamp 12.

[0043] In the example shown, the clamp 12 is mounted on the vehicle 11 rotatable about a rotation axis A1 and has two jaws 13, which are offset with respect to the rotation axis A1. The extent of the offset of the jaws 13 with respect to the rotation axis A1 is equal to half the distance of the plan-view projection of the forward branch 9 and the return branch 10 at the end stations 2 and 3. Furthermore, the rotation axis A1 of the clamp 12 is equidistant from the forward branch 9 and the return branch 10 of the hauling cable 4. In this way, the jaws 13 at the forward branch 9, by means of a 180° rotation of the clamp 12, are arranged at the return branch 10 and vice versa.

[0044] The clamp 12 comprises a control member 14, which is configured for opening and closing the jaws 13, arranged on the opposite side of the jaws 13 with respect to the rotation axis A1, and offset with respect to the rotation axis A1 by a significantly smaller extent than the extent of the offset of the jaws 13. In other words, in a plan view, the control member 14 is within the area delimited by the return branch 9 and the forward branch 9 of the hauling cable 4.

[0045] The system 1 comprises, at each end station 2 and 3, a control device 15 configured to open and close the clamp 12 in both working positions of the clamp 12 when the vehicle 11 is stationary at an end station 2 and 3. The control device 15 comprises a control mechanism 16 configured to cooperate with the control member 14 when the clamp 12 is in the first working position; and a second control mechanism 17 configured to cooperate with the control member 14 when the clamp 12 is in the second working position. Each mechanism 16 and 17 is selectively moveable between a rest position, in which it does not cooperate with the clamp 12, and a working position, in which it cooperates with the clamp 12, in particular with the control member 14 of the clamp 12.

[0046] The system 1 comprises, at each end station 2 and 3, two spacing devices 18 at the clamp 12 for spacing the sections of the hauling cable 4 at the clamp 12 and allowing the rotation of the clamp 12 about the rotation axis A1 at each end station 2 and 3.

[0047] With reference to Figure 4, the vehicle 11 comprises a bogie 19, which is configured to be advanced along the rails 8 and comprises a frame 20; a plurality of supporting wheels 21 suitable to roll on the upper face of the rails 8; and a plurality of guide wheels 22 suitable to roll along the inner faces of the rails 8.

[0048] In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the supporting wheels 21 are replaced with air cushions, not shown in the attached figures.

[0049] The frame 20 supports the clamp 12 rotatably about the rotation axis A1 and an actuator 23 to rotate the clamp 12 in opposite directions about the rotation axis A1 so as to cause the clamp 12 in each working position to abut against a respective abutment, not shown in the attached figures. The clamp 12 is arranged under the frame 20, while the actuator 23 is arranged above the frame 20 and connected to the clamp 12 by means of a shaft 24 housed in a seat 25 of the frame 20.

[0050] The control device 15 is positioned under the hauling cable 4 and comprises two actuators 26 and 27, which control the respective control mechanisms 16 and 17 independently of each other. Each of the control mechanisms 16 and 17 comprises a pantograph, which is movable between a lowered, rest position, in which it does not interfere with the clamp 12, and a raised, working position, in which it raises the control member 14 of the clamp 12 and opens the jaws 13. Each of the control mechanisms 16 and 17 comprises a respective actuator, not shown in the attached figures.

[0051] With reference to Figure 5, each spacing device 18 comprises two rollers 26, which are movable between a lowered position, indicated by a broken line, and a raised position, indicated by a solid line, and two actuators 27 for controlling the position of the respective rollers 26.

[0052] The vehicle 11 is clamped to the hauling cable 4 by at least two clamps 12. In Figure 5, the two clamps 12 are mounted on the same bogie 19, are aligned along the longitudinal length of the vehicle 11 and are both rotatably mounted on the frame 20 of the bogie 19. When the two clamps 12 are arranged at a close distance from each other, as in the case illustrated in Figure 5, the rotation of the clamps 12 is simultaneous. Accordingly, the system comprises a single control device 15 for both clamps 12 and two spacing devices 18 for both clamps 12.

[0053] When two clamps 12 of the vehicle 11 are arranged at a great distance from each other, the two clamps 12 are actuated in succession so that the vehicle 11 is constantly clamped to the hauling cable 4. In this case, each end station 2 and 3 requires one control device 15 for each clamp 12 and two spacing devices 18 for each clamp 12.

[0054] The system 1 comprises a control unit 28, which controls the drive member 7, the control device 15, the actuators 23 for rotating the clamps 12; and the spacing devices 18 in accordance with the operating modes of the system 1 as described below.

[0055] In use, and with reference to Figure 1, the vehicle 11 enters and stops at the station 2 clamped to the hauling cable 4 along the return branch 10. In the station 2, both the control mechanisms 16 and 17 are in the lowered position, while the rollers 26 along the return branch 10 are raised and the rollers 26 along the forward branch 9 are lowered. The raising of the control mechanism 16 causes the opening of the jaws 13. The subsequent lowering of the rollers 26 along the return branch 10 places the hauling cable 4 outside the bulk of the clamp 12. The subsequent lowering of the control mechanism 16 causes the closing of the jaws 13, and the clamp 12 is free to rotate about the rotation axis A1. The clamp 12 is rotated by 180° so as to arrange the jaws 13 above the forward branch 9 of the hauling cable 4, as shown in Figure 2. The raising of the control mechanism 17 causes the opening of the jaws 13, while the subsequent raising of the rollers 26 along the forward branch 9 causes the insertion of a portion of the forward branch 9 between the jaws 13. The subsequent lowering of the control mechanism 17 causes the clamping of the jaws 13 to the forward branch 9. In this configuration of the system 1, the hauling cable 4 is advanced and the vehicle 11 advances along the path P in direction D1, as shown in Figure 3.

[0056] With reference to Figures 6 to 11, the reference numeral 28 designates a cable transportation system of the "back-and-forth" type, which comprises all the components of the system 1 described with reference to the preceding figures. The system 28 differs from the system 1 in that it comprises two local redoublings 29 of the single lane and three vehicles 11 operating simultaneously in the system. For greater understanding of the figures from 6 to 7, the vehicles 11 are indicated with the numbers 11-1, 11-2 and 11-3 so as to be able to distinguish them from each other.

[0057] The local lane redoubling 29 requires points, not shown in the attached figures, and cable switches, also not shown in the attached figures.

[0058] The end stations 2 and 3 and the redoublings 29 of the lane are distributed with a constant pitch so that a stop of a vehicle 11 at the end stations 2 and 3 corresponds to a stop of the other two vehicles 11 at the redoublings 29 of the lane, which can be equipped to be intermediate loading and unloading stations. The number of vehicles 11 depends on the number of lane redoublings 29. A number N of vehicles 11 operating along the path P requires N-1 lane redoublings 29.

[0059] Lastly, it is clear that modifications and variations may be made to the cable transportation system described and claimed herein without however departing from the scope of protection defined by the appended claims. For example, the clamp could be used to selectively connect the vehicle to two parallel cables, in cable transportation systems with at least two hauling cables.


Claims

1. A cable transportation system for transporting people or goods, the cable transportation system (1) comprising:

- an advancing path (P) extending between two end stations (2, 3) and having a given length L;

- a hauling cable (4) looped into a closed ring and having a forward branch (9) and a return branch (10), which extend between the end stations (2, 3); and

- at least one vehicle (11) configured to be alternately advanced between the two end stations (2; 3), and selectively and alternately clamped to the forward branch (9) and the return branch (10) of the hauling cable (4) at the end stations (2, 3);

- a drive member (7) for advancing the hauling cable (4) along the advancing path (P) and selectively stopping the hauling cable (4) when the vehicle (11) clamped to the hauling cable (4) is at one end station (2; 3).


 
2. The system as claimed in Claim 1, and comprising a single lane between the end stations (2, 3) along most of the advancing path (P).
 
3. The system as claimed in Claim 2, and comprising a number N of vehicles (11) operating along the advancing path (P), and a number N-1 of local lane redoublings (29) between the end stations (2, 3); the end stations (2, 3) and the lane redoublings (29) being distributed with a constant pitch along the advancing path (P).
 
4. The system as claimed in Claim 3, and comprising a stop station at each lane redoubling (29).
 
5. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, wherein the forward branch (9) and the return branch (10) are parallel to each other and arranged side by side at each end station (2; 3).
 
6. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, wherein the vehicle (11) comprises a frame (20); at least one clamp (12), which is arranged underneath the frame (20) and mounted on the frame (20) in a selectively rotatable manner about a rotation axis (A1) and comprises two jaws (13) arranged on one side of the rotation axis (A1) and configured for selectively releasing and clamping the hauling cable (4); a control member (14), which is configured for opening and closing the jaws (13) and arranged on the opposite side of the jaws (13) with respect to the rotation axis (A1); and an actuator (23) for selectively rotating the clamp (12) about the rotation axis (A1) between two working positions arranged at 180° from each other.
 
7. The system as claimed in Claim 6, wherein the control member (14) is arranged at a distance from the rotation axis (A1) shorter than the distance of the jaws (13) from the rotation axis (A1).
 
8. The system as claimed in Claim 7, wherein the actuator (23) is configured for rotating the clamp (12) about the rotation axis (A1) in two opposite directions.
 
9. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, wherein said vehicle (11) comprises a bogie (19), said clamp (12) being mounted on the bogie (19).
 
10. The system as claimed in any one of the Claims from 6 to 9, and comprising at each end station (2; 3) a control device (15) configured to open and close the jaws (13), when the vehicle (11) is stationary and the clamp (12) is arranged in either of the two working positions.
 
11. The system as claimed in Claim 10, wherein the control device (15) comprises a first control mechanism (16) configured to cooperate with the control member (14) when the clamp (12) is in the first working position; and a second control mechanism (17) configured to cooperate with the control member (14) when the clamp (12) is in the second working position.
 
12. The system as claimed in Claim 11, wherein each control mechanism (16; 17) is selectively moveable between a rest position, in which it does not cooperate with the clamp (12), and a working position, in which it cooperates with the control member (14) of the clamp (12).
 
13. The system as claimed in any one of the Claims from 6 to 12, and comprising at each end station (2, 3) a spacing device (18) for the forward branch (9) and a spacing device for the return branch (10) for pulling out the hauling cable (4) from the open jaws (13) and allowing the rotation of the clamp (12) about the rotation axis (A1) at each end station (2; 3), and inserting the hauling cable (4) between the open jaws (13).
 
14. The system as claimed in Claim 13, wherein the spacing device (18) comprises two rollers (26) for selectively raising and lowering a section of the hauling cable (4).
 
15. A cable transportation method for transporting people or goods, the method comprising the steps of:

- alternately advancing at least one vehicle (11) along an advancing path (P) extending between two end stations (2, 3) and having a given length L;

- advancing a hauling cable (4) along the advancing path (P);

- selectively stopping the hauling cable (4) when the vehicle (11) clamped to the hauling cable is at an end station (2; 3); and

- selectively and alternately clamping the vehicle (11) to the forward branch (9) and the return branch (10) of the hauling cable (4) at the end stations (2, 3).


 
16. The method as claimed in Claim 15, and comprising the step of guiding the forward branch (9) and the return branch (10) so as to keep the forward branch (9) and the return branch (10) parallel to each other and arranged side by side at least at the end stations (2, 3).
 
17. The method as claimed in Claim 15 or 16, and comprising the step of selectively rotating a clamp (12) about a rotation axis (A1) with respect to a frame (20) of the vehicle (11) for selectively arranging the jaws (13) of the clamp (12) at the forward branch (9), in a first working position, and at the return branch (10), in a second working position.
 
18. The method as claimed in any one of the Claims from 15 to 17, and comprising the steps of opening and closing the jaws (13) at each end station (2; 3) and in both working positions of the clamp (12).
 
19. The method as claimed in any one of the Claims from 15 to 18, and comprising the step of spacing the hauling cable (4) and the clamp apart (12) and allowing the rotation of the clamp (12) about the rotation axis (A1) at each end station (2; 3).
 
20. A clamp for a vehicle of a cable transportation system, the clamp being configured to be arranged underneath the frame (20) and mounted on the frame (20) in a selectively rotatable manner about a rotation axis (A1) and comprising two jaws (13) arranged on one side of the rotation axis (A1) and configured for selectively releasing and clamping at least one hauling cable (4); a control member (14), which is configured for opening and closing the jaws (13) and arranged on the opposite side of the jaws (13) with respect to the rotation axis (A1); and an actuator (23) for selectively rotating the clamp (12) about the rotation axis (A1) between two working positions arranged at 180° from each other.
 
21. The clamp as claimed in Claim 20, wherein the control member (14) is arranged at a distance from the rotation axis (A1) shorter than the distance of the jaws (13) from the rotation axis (A1).
 
22. The clamp as claimed in Claim 21, wherein the actuator (23) is configured for rotating the clamp (12) about the rotation axis (A1) in two opposite directions.
 
23. The clamp as claimed in Claim 22, wherein the actuator (23) is connected to the clamp (12) by means of a shaft (24) housed in a seat (25) of the frame (20).
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description