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It’s a breeze! NEW bespoke winching system for ventilation units at Reigate School

It’s a breeze! NEW bespoke winching system for ventilation units at Reigate School


Penny Hydraulics specialist lighting winch division has recently completed a project at Reigate School in Surrey to mechanically lift and lower ventilation systems and chandeliers for safe, quick and easy cleaning and maintenance.

Reigate School is a popular state secondary school. The school is rated as ‘Outstanding’ in all areas by OFSTED and therefore draws residents to Reigate from Surrey and beyond. Opening its doors for students from the ages of 11 through to 16, the school aims to provide children with a balanced curriculum in a ‘happy and stimulating environment’. Facilitating this, the school boasts wide-ranging facilities including an astro turf, tennis courts, and a dedicated food technology block. Investment in the facilities is continuous and various large-scale renovation projects in recent years, such as full-refurbishment of the school reception area ensures that the school continues to draw large numbers of applicants each year.

Forming an important part of essential improvements at the facility, Penny Hydraulics lighting winch division were contacted to help with a specialised lighting and ventilation mechanical handling project in the main school hall.

“Lighting, heating, and ventilation units are typically installed at ceiling level in buildings and in many cases this equipment is situated in well-used facilities such as theatres, auditoriums and school halls,” said General Manager of Penny’s lighting winch division, Ed Penny. “When this equipment requires cleaning, maintenance work, or luminaires simply require bulbs changing, facility managers are often left with a real predicament on their hands.”

With high ceilings to contend with, scaffolding or specialist access equipment is typically required. Such equipment can be difficult to source, is often costly and can cause significant disruption at the venue.

“The work area needs to be out of use whilst the equipment is setup, the job is carried out and the equipment is then dismantled and/or removed following the work,” said Ed. “This can be a lengthy process and having a school hall out of action for multiple days at a time simply isn’t an option – the space is used every day and is therefore not easily freed-up to enable this work to be carried out.”

To avoid this issue, the school decided that it was necessary to introduce mechanical handling so that chandeliers and ventilation systems could be lowered quickly and easily to ground level for the work to be carried out.

“Large destratification fans had to be installed within doughnut shaped lighting rafts which could then be mechanically lifted and lowered from the floor to ceiling level for essential maintenance,” said Ed. “In addition, the lighting rafts had to secure, lift and lower large and imposing centre-piece chandeliers within the hall.”

Following consultation with Penny’s specialist lighting winch engineers, the school decided to proceed with twin-rope, twin-winch systems supported by rafts mounted to the hall ceiling which contained the winches to lift and lower the ventilation systems and chandeliers.

“The chandeliers connected to the winch ropes and each rope was able to sustain the full weight of the chandelier, said Ed. “This provides two means of support to the chandelier which is essential for safety reasons.”

Each of the systems comprised of a cable reel, pulleys and the lighting winch itself. A spring-operated cable reel was used to provide power to the chandelier.

“The reel releases cable as the fitting is lowered and then automatically retracts the cable when raised back up to high level.” Said Ed.

The system is operated by a motorised winch and pulleys are supplied to carry the wire rope along the desired rope runs.

“One operator sited at ground level can easily and quickly lower the chandeliers and fans for cleaning and maintenance without the need for ladders or expensive access equipment such as scaffolding, or mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs).” Said Ed.

Installed in 2017, the system complies with all relevant legislation, regulations and best practice guidelines – the system eliminates the need to work from height and ensures that the suspended loads have two means of support.

“The system is also tested and certificated to Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER),” said Ed. “This ensures it’s fit for purpose and safe to operate.”

Modern lighting winch systems offer many benefits over traditional methods for cleaning and maintaining chandeliers and other items suspended at height such as ventilation systems.

“By installing a mechanical handling system such as the dual-winch systems installed at Reigate School, this process becomes much quicker, more cost-effective and hassle-free - allowing the school to keep the room freed-up for classes, important functions, and events throughout the year.” Said Ed.

Penny Hydraulics lighting winch division offer manual, electric, remote controlled, interior and exterior winching systems for items such as lighting, menu-boards, artwork and speakers. A complete design package means that the company works closely with architects and structural engineers through the commissioning, manufacture, installation and maintenance stages of a project.

Penny Hydraulics own purpose-built premises houses a manufacturing and assembly plant where all the functions of a fully integrated company are carried out with design, manufacturing, installation, aftersales support and a nationwide service operation. With over 40 years’ experience, the company are the leading authority in this field and install and maintain lifting and lowering systems for chandeliers and other lighting installations in; museums, hotels, courts, theatres, stadiums, breweries, railways, retail premises, stately and private homes. Prestigious locations that house Penny systems include; Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, The Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Courts of Justice and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Do you have an interesting lifting project? Take a look at the animated film to see how a Penny lifting system could work for you! Alternatively, contact the team to discuss the project further.

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