Enjoy a bird's eye view of Cologne! Every year, over half a million passengers soar over the Rhine at a height of 30 meters with the Cologne Cable Car – and are rewarded with an unparalleled view of the city and cathedral. For ensuring the safety of the carrying rope construction, Kölner Seilbahn relies on the Panomera® camera technology of Regensburg-based manufacturer Dallmeier.

The Cologne Cable Car offers an unrivaled view of the Cologne Old Town and its cathedral. Riding in gondolas at a height of 30 meters above the ground, visitors enjoy a bird's eye view of Cologne, the Old Town, the River Rhine, and the beautiful city environs.

Video security technology

The Cologne Cable Car has been featured as an established attraction of the city for over 60 years, and every year more than half a million passengers enjoy the 930-meter-long aerial trip over the Rhine. In order to ensure that the 44 cars reach the end stations in Riehl and Deutz safely from spring to autumn, the operators have decided to install video security technology from Dallmeier.

The Cologne Cable Car has featured as an established attraction of the city for over 60 years

The Cologne Cable Car project is the first undertaking anywhere in the world in which the patented Panomera® camera technology is used to monitor a cable car carrying rope. In order to guarantee the passengers' safety at all times, the operators require rapid visual detection of possible technical problems, particularly in the structure of the carrying cable.

Preventing technical problems

Carlos Castro, Operations Manager of Kölner Seilbahn, explains: "Besides the approach of the gondolas to the stations, we observe the way they run onto the pylons. 30 meters up in the air, it is quite possible that a good gust of wind can set the cable and the pylons swinging. To enable early detection of incidents that cause the gondolas to approach the sensitive points out of alignment and to prevent technical problems, we decided to introduce video surveillance using the proven, patented Panomera® camera technology."

The carrying rope is supported on a total of three pylons over the entire distance of just under one kilometer. The resulting distances between the stations and the pylons range in length from 100 meters up to a considerable span of 480 meters over the Rhine itself.

Extremely high quality

The operators of the Cologne Cable Car found exactly the right solution in Panomera® technology

Consequently, their project partner VTS Video Technik Systeme GmbH, which was responsible for erection operations, only had access to a few installation points, but at the same time, the specification in respect of imaging and resolution quality was extremely high. Simply put, this meant that images must be recorded over very long distances, but at the same time, the image material must still be of extremely high quality.

Together with the VTS, the operators of the Cologne Cable Car found exactly the right solution in Panomera® technology. VTS GmbH has been a reliable, capable business partner to Dallmeier for many years, and brings the necessary expertise to the project based on long experience.

Multifocal sensor system

The Panomera® multifocal sensor system is considered to have revolutionized video surveillance. It was developed specifically to provide full area coverage with video protection for large spaces and long distances. The particular feature of the technology is that multiple sensors having different focal lengths are installed in a single housing and a special software program compiles a total image in high resolution.

This technical advantage gave us the decisive edge in view of the specified infrastructure"

In this way, huge distances and expanses can be captured with a uniform resolution raster over the entire area of interest in real-time. Jürgen Vahlenkamp, managing director of VTS GmbH explains in more detail: "This technical advantage gave us the decisive edge in view of the specified infrastructure. For video observation with the Panomera®, we managed extremely well with the small number of installation points available.”

Potential hazard situations

Thanks to the special lens and sensor concept we do not fall below the specified resolution value even in the more distant image areas. The ideal prerequisite for surveillance over very long distances!” The rollers themselves are also monitored using Dallmeier IR box cameras.

The operator has full control over the entire situation over the entire length of the cables between the pylons, live and in high-resolution video images. In potential hazard situations, he can view details in a separate zoom image without losing sight of the overall action. In theory, any number of operators would be able to ‘take a close look’ at a wide range of image areas at the same time.

Analyzing detailed picture

We have succeeded in ensuring that the process of cable car operation is as safe as possible"

"The operator has the situation under control at all times! He has access to an uninterrupted total view of the cables and the pylons while analyzing a detailed picture of a certain area, at the same time if necessary,” continues Vahlenkamp, "We have succeeded in ensuring that the process of cable car operation is as safe as possible, to the complete satisfaction of our customer."

The wind that blows against the masts and cables 30 meters above the ground can cause them to start rocking and poses certain challenges not only for the operation of the gondolas but also for the installation of the cameras. To ensure that the camera systems – each weighing more than ten kilos – are not damaged or themselves become a hazard, the cameras were secured to the pylons using special plates.

Real-life implementation

The lenses themselves are installed immovably inside the camera housing and are unaffected by any swinging motion. In view of the special requirement of this project, the Dallmeier 3D planning team first simulated a digital twin of the entire surrounding area. With this approach, the manufacturer Dallmeier ensures that planning and real-life implementation match each other as closely as possible, and the customer benefits from the highest certainty regarding both the plan and their investment.

The next step in the project execution was to construct and test the finished system

The next step in the project execution was to construct and test the finished system, consisting of cameras and a high-performance recording appliance. In Dallmeier's own Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) Center in Regensburg, the systems were pre-set according to the customer's specification. The ‘FAT test run’ which follows ensures that project partner VTS will be able to install and commission the preconfigured system quickly and without difficulties.

Reliable technical monitoring

Carlos Castro sums up: "We're delighted. At last, we are in a position to monitor the entire span of 930 meters during operation. The images delivered are of outstanding quality. With this system we now have a good, additional tool which enables the system to be displayed visually, complementing the existing, reliable technical monitoring and control systems."

In public areas, data protection and EU GDPR are important topics. Dallmeier's technology is compliant with all required criteria for data protection and data security, including during application in public areas. Roland Deja, Operations Manager Sales Backoffice at Dallmeier: "With the Dallmeier solution, we have given the go-ahead for cable car monitoring projects. The integrated approach adopted in Dallmeier solutions means that both the cameras and software can be upgraded, e.g., with AI-based assistance systems, at a later time as well. Thus, systems will remain viable for many years into the future and guarantee investment security for the Kölner Seilbahn."

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