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Motion System Design

Progress continues on China’s Great Wheel

In Beijing, construction continues on the Great Wheel of China, a giant Ferris wheel that will soon hold the record as the world’s highest observation wheel, with views reaching the famous Great Wall. When completed in 2010, it will stand 680 ft high, more than 130 ft taller than the current highest wheel in Singapore. The wheel will feature 48 air-conditioned carriages, each able to hold 40 passengers, for a total of capacity of 1,920 riders. Over a period of 50 years, the wheel is predicted to make 750,000 rotations, necessitating the use of components with long service life.

Several manufacturers have contributed components and expertise to this massive undertaking, a project of the Beijing Great Wheel Co. Ltd. in cooperation with Beijing Chaoyang Park. One of the project’s suppliers, Warner Electric, part of power transmission group Altra Industrial Motion, has supplied the wheel manufacturer, SIGMA, with linear actuators to open the doors, and with electromagnetic clutches to control the yaw of each of the 48 carriages.

Linear actuators for the carriages will be used as a secondary lock to prevent doors from opening during rotation. The actuator was designed to strict specifications, which included an adjustable end limit switch, end stroke signaling, specific stud, nut, and washer arrangements, a manual release lever, and extruded aluminum tube bodies to avoid corrosion and reduce weight. Each carriage is also equipped with a Warner electromagnetic tooth clutch to provide stability and prevent swaying in the wind — vital to protecting passengers from motion sickness during the 20-minute ride. For more information, visit or

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