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Safety during turbine maintenance thanks to ZARGES work platforms

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The customer

The torrents of water that flow through the pipes of the E.ON Hydro Power canal power plant in Töging am Inn are colossal: Up to 340 cubic metres of water, at least 340,000 litres, roar through the pipes every second. Enough force to generate huge amounts of eco-friendly electricity.

This had already been recognised by experts back in the 1920s and the decision was taken to exploit the immense power of the River Inn. But the power plant in Töging itself is not the only facility that makes up the hydroelectric plant. 20 kilometres upstream the canal that brings the water to Töging branches off. At the end is a 110-metre long surge tank with 14 downpipes leading to the powerhouse. Each of these pipes is over 50 metres long and measures 4 metres in diameter. In the 5 years it took to complete the entire building project 7,000 workers moved over 14 million cubic metres of earth and worked 400,000 cubic metres of concrete and 11,000 tons of steel. The costs amounted to 23.12 million gold marks.

In Töging the water drives the 14 turbines in the powerhouse with a fall of 30 metres. From its commissioning in 1924 until 1999 the power plant generated around 40 billion kilowatt-hours of eco-friendly electricity. Where this was initially consumed almost exclusively by the nearby aluminium works, the electricity has since the works were shut down been fed entirely into the three-phase system.

The Töging hydroelectric plant is part of E.ON Hydro Power's eco-friendly power generation operations. 16 staff ensure that everything runs smoothly and attend to the maintenance of the turbines and generators. This is a huge challenge particularly on the Inn because the river carries a lot of suspended matter - even with an average load of suspended matter this amounts to around 13 tons per day, leaving behind traces as it flows through the turbines.

The task

For this reason, once a year one of the turbines is shut down and completely disassembled for a major overhaul. Over a period of three months the workshop fitters work on exchanging all the wearing parts, cleaning the turbine and sealing it tight again. A whole host of tasks must be completed in the process.

Previously, scaffolding was erected to carry out the work on the turbine parts measuring up to 4 metres high. This not only was complicated, but also limited flexibility. Setting up and taking down the scaffolding proved to be a laborious job and even small changes in height called for the scaffolding to be completely rebuilt. Furthermore, space for scaffolding was not always available in the powerhouse. “According to a directive from E.ON Hydro Power, it is no longer permitted to carry out work from single ladders,” explains Robert Eder, hydro power team leader on the Inn. “But we need to have a firm foothold and both hands, for example, to scrape off the old gaskets and replace them with new ones.”

The solution

Expert advisers from the ZARGES sales force presented to the E.ON Hydro Power staff the newly developed ZARGES ZAP work platform. It combines the flexibility of a ladder with the safety of scaffolding. The stable and height-adjustable ladder parts support a secure platform with peripheral railing. “ZAP is a huge relief to us,” reports Robert Eder after the first instances of use. Even the act of climbing is much safer and easier than on scaffolding. Not only does the worker have a firm foothold on the work platform itself, but also he can work freely with both hands and in doing so put down his tools. 

The work platform can be easily adjusted to the desired height in no time at all or, thanks to the integrated castors, easily and quickly moved. “Everyone who's worked with it thinks it's brilliant,” says Robert Eder. 

ZAP is now being used in the E.ON hydroelectric plant in Töging not only for turbine maintenance, but also for plenty of other tasks. “It takes no more effort to set up than a regular single ladder,” says Eder. The staff are impressed by the high degree of safety provided by ZAP.

Technical particulars

“As flexible as a ladder, as safe and comfortable as scaffolding” goes the slogan for the Zarges ZAP work platforms, which close the gap between ladder and scaffolding. ZAP offers the greatest possible comfort and maximum safety for work at heights that takes a long time or requires a great deal of exertion.
The new work platforms can be folded up like a ladder and easily transported thanks to its integrated castors. On site they are set up and ready for use in less than a minute. Thanks to the generous platform area with peripheral railing, they offer a secure foothold and maximum safety, particularly for all tasks in which both hands are needed. 

The Zarges ZAP work platforms come in two different versions - as a telescopic platform ladder which can be adjusted up and down with the familiar, tried-and-tested push-up ladder principle or as height-adjustable platform steps with large, non-slip steps for comfortable access. What both versions have in common is their height adjustability. Working heights of up to 4.20 metres (for platform ladders) or 3.20 metres (for platform steps) can be achieved in no time at all. 


The ZAP series from ZARGES is currently being extended to include a few additional products:

  • ZAP work platform: A height-adjustable platform up to a working height of 5.60 m which can be folded up to save space.
  • Z600 ZAP stepladder: A stepladder with five non-slip steps and a large standing platform enclosed in a safety cage. Additional stabilisers are optionally available for even more stability.
  • Z500 ZAP telescopic platform ladder and Z500 ZAP platform ladder: Competitively priced alternatives for maximum stability. Successful products with slightly reduced equipment details but with the same high safety and quality standards.

Interview with Robert Eder, team leader on the Inn at E.ON Hydro Power

Z-experts forum: What aspects were the incentive behind purchasing the ZARGES ZAP work platform?

Robert Eder: We attach great importance to occupational safety at our company. A rule has been in place for some years to the effect that ladders may only be used to climb to a higher workplace. On the other hand, it always involved a huge effort to set up and take down scaffolding for the maintenance work on our turbines. 
Z-experts forum: What work is ZAP used for?
Robert Eder: We use the work platform not just for the maintenance work on the turbines. In many other activities too, whether it be inspecting our cranes or other work at heights, they deliver high levels of safety. For many tasks we need two free hands and a secure footing. The platform with the peripheral railing is therefore the perfect solution.
Z-experts forum: How have the staff responded to the new access system?
Robert Eder: Everyone who's worked with it thinks it's brilliant. Once someone has used it for the first time, they resort to the ZARGES work platform again and again. It is easy and quick to set up, can be effortlessly transported and also folded up and cleanly tidied away. As the boss I feel better when the workers have a secure footing and have both hands free for the tasks involved. 
Z-experts forum: Is one ZAP actually enough for the multitude of tasks in the hydroelectric plant?
Robert Eder: The experiences have in fact been so positive and the staff's enthusiasm so great that we are already considering buying another ZAP. At any rate we will be passing on our experiences in the company group so that our colleagues there can experience the greatest possible safety when working at heights.

Interested in further product information on the ZARGES work platforms? ZARGES ZAP work platforms in our product section 

Or contact us if you have any questions: By telephone at the Access Technology Customer Centre on +49-(0)881-687-100 or via our contact form