Overview of Gate Operating Systems

By A.K.Bajaj, Chief Engineer & S.K.G.Pandit, Director Central Water Commission

General. Depending on the era of development and the mode of operation desired (local, automatic, remote, etc.) gates, (radial, vertical-lift, hinged crest, etc.), are operated by a wide variety of hoists. Usually there should be a dedicated individual and properly designed lifting mechanism or hoist for each gate. A function of gate size and lifting capacity, gate hoists may be motor-operated or manually operated, or both. For large, heavy gates motor-operators are not only necessary, but preferred to attain a reasonable operating time. Small to medium size gates may have manual backup to the motor-operators, albeit speed of gate movement is considerably slower. Small spillway or canal gates may depend solely on a manualoperator (i.e., hand wheel, crank, etc.). A wide range of hoists are deployed for the operation of hydraulic gates. The gates can be operated by the action of the reservoir pressure, like drum gates, sector gates etc. which do not require a host but are actuated by inlet and discharging pipes in the recesses. As against this, some gates are required to be operated by a fixed hoist or by a moving device. The fixed types of hoists are screw hoists, wire rope (rope drum ) hoists roller chains and hydraulic cylinders operated with oil pressure. Movable hoisting device are used mainly in the operation of the stoplogs and diversion gates or draft tube bulk heads. Among the more common moving types of hoists are the hand or electric traveling hoists, overhead cranes, gantry cranes and wheel or tractor mounted cranes. The most common gate operating mechanisms are rope drum , also called as wire rope type(Figure ‘1’) and hydraulic (Figure ‘2’). Screw hoists are also used for small gates .The term "wire rope" obviously defines the gate lifting element. Hydraulic hoist cylinders may be connected directly to the gate lifting lugs, or may be slave to wire rope sheave systems. Also, chain hoists of commercial or special design are used to operate gates. With hydraulics, virtually any gate operating force can be attained with small high-pressure lifting cylinders. Large heavy gates may be counterbalanced to minimize hoist capacity and machinery size. Power requirements are a function of gate weight and lifting speed, with little variance in motor size for different types of hoists. Wire Rope (Rope Drum) Hoists. A typical wire rope hoist comprises dual drum units with (or without) speed-reduction gearing, connected to a center drive unit via drive shafts (Figure ‘1’). Further speed reduction may be provided in speed reducers (worm-gear or parallel- shaft) and gear motor drives. An electrically-operated brake unit is provided to hold a set gate position regardless of whether speed reducers are self-locking (or not). Simpler hoists will not have drum unit reduction gearing, and the drums may be mounted on a common drive


their minimum effective breaking strength is 10 per cent less than ungalvanized wire rope. The gate lowering occurs by gravity and the lowering speed may be controlled by motor energization in the direction of the descent or by means of an automatic regulator (a fan brake. Electromagnetic or hydraulic thrustor spring-operated shoe brakes are used for holding the suspended gate. Their use is very common in dam gates (particularly radial and fixed-wheel gates) in which the friction forces to be overcome are always less than the gate weight. In general. However. The minimum diameter of drums and pulleys is chosen in function the cable diameter and classification. Entire hoist mechanism is also checked for break down torque condition of hoist motor as during gate jamming. Ropes made of galvanized wires are used in certain applications where additional protection against rusting is required (contact with water. The torque is transmitted from one drum to the other through a coupling shaft. In gates with small ratio width/height. Stainless wire ropes are made of 18-8 steel and present great resistance to corrosion. Their length must accommodate in a single layer the length of the cables required for the total lifting of the gate plus two holding turns. the permissible fleet angle in relation to the pulley groove is usually limited to 3 degrees. The rope wires must present a minimum breaking strength in the range of 1570 to 1770 MPa. plow-steel or stainless steel wire rope will provide smooth hoisting motion. Properly lubricated and maintained.shaft spanning the gate bay walls. they are particularly recommended for submerged use. The construction is indicated by 2 . it has two drums provided with two helical grooves (right and left-hand) where the steel cables connected to the gate leaf are coiled. notwithstanding their high cost. most gate hoist wire ropes are 6x36 and 6x37-class of construction. Brakes and motors are attached to the speed reducer input shaft. The drums are installed one on each side of the gate and operated by pairs of gears or speed reducers and one electric motor. with the motor-operator located at one end. with maximum torque limited to 300 per cent of the rated torque. two turns of the cables should remain coiled in the drum. Wire rope is probably the most common gate lifting element. which corresponds to the American classification of plow steel. Drum grooves are machined with the radius equal to 0. Brakes actuate automatically when the current is switched off and should allow manual release during power failure. the lifting can be performed by means of a single drum and a cable set connected to the gate top center. In addition. Steel wire rope hoists are used exclusively in facilities where the gate closure is made by its own weight. for example). In order to provide for rope run-off. it should follow the cable manufacturer specifications.53 times the cable diameter. the electric motors selected are three-phase AC. In the basic design. The braking torque is 150 per cent of the torque corresponding to full load motor torque. for example). with the gate closed. In India. for the cables cannot exert downward forces. As a general practice. Material used in the manufacture of rope wire is stainless steel and galvanized or polished steel. application of motor torque would reach significantly higher values and the structure of hoist and machinery has to be safe for that condition. squirrel-cage induction rotor. Drums are designed according to the selected rope. a minimum diameter equal to 25 times the cable diameter is adopted for drums and pulleys.

link-chain hoist systems were common (Figure ‘3’). Wire rope is made either preformed or non-preformed. Preformed ropes are more flexible and have greater fatigue strength. Fiber core gives greater flexibility to the cable. When selecting the wire rope.From left to right: (a) right-regular lay. In preformed ropes the wires and strands are pre-shaped into a helical form so that when laid to form the rope they tend to remain in place. Ropes with steel core are rated 7. (d) left Lang lay Wire ropes are classified either regular lay or Lang lay. while the latter is more flexible. With obsolescence. Link disconnect latch mechanisms were embedded in the hoist bridge deck. the designer must take into account that the flexibility is inversely proportional to the wire diameter. (b) left-regular lay. link-chain gave way to double-link roller-chain and rope drum hoists. the first has greater resistance to abrasion. Maintenance needs of the roller-type chain is a concern. the first giving the number of strands and the second being the number of wires in each strand. one or two rail mounted hoist units were often provided. On multiplegated spillways. (c) right Lang lay.5 per cent stronger than those with fiber core. as illustrated in figure above. Hence chain hoists are obsolete now. 3 . In the early 1900s. Chain Hoists. Filler and Warrington) are used in the construction of wire rope strands and do not affect the rope load capacity. Lay of wire ropes . Thus. comparing 6x19 and 6x37 wire ropes of the same diameter. steel core have high resistance to permanent deformation and increases the tensile strength. with a minimum of internal stresses.two numbers. which is usually fiber or steel wire. and increasing loads. The strands are wrapped in spirals about a central element. except that the gate lifting element is chain (link-type or roller-type). whereas the abrasion resistance is directly proportional to that diameter. Various arrangements of wire (Seale. Chain hoists are similar to wire rope hoists.

which presents good mechanical strength and a low friction coefficient. It has to be designed to support the gate weight. and position sensing servo-control equipment. An advantage of hydraulic operation is the ability to operate several gates from one hydraulic power unit. 4 . This mechanism is normally installed within a frame and mounted on a castiron pedestal screwed to the operating deck. Equal stem travel for dual cylinders can be attained with fluid lines of equal length. They are also found to be economical and smooth in the operation. synchronization of stem travel is a must for smooth non-binding gate motion. for individual hoists). Hydraulic Hoists. The hand operated screw hoists are limited to the operation of small gates such as canal gates of slide or fixed wheel types. or indirectly by means of bevel or worm gear systems. etc. In general. with lead equal to the pitch. When hydraulic-oil hoists are used. The nut may be operated by a hand wheel. and should be designed as a column. Due to many advantages associated with them. hydraulic oil drives have widely superseded conventional hoists in the recent times. Where dual lifting cylinders are utilized. Details regarding hydraulic hoists are covered separately and are available under this programme. It comprises a vertical threaded stem connected to the gate leaf and prevented from rotating.Lubricating a roller-type chain is a difficult. Prudent material selection and the use of lube-free bushings will take care of strength. time-consuming process that allows oil and grease to enter the waterway. By mid 1900s. and to interconnect power units for backup gate operation (saving cost and complexity of multiple motors. The nut also has a strut function and is usually supported on roller bearings. They can be hand operated or motorized. a single lifting cylinder is usually preferred. and the overall life-cycle cost of the chain. SAE 4140 alloy steel or AISI 416 stainless steel are also adopted. Early applications were limited to a single lifting cylinder to avoid synchronization of stem travel. They are generally subjected to very small heads and are loaded lightly. flow dividers. environmental concerns. and fittings. speed reducers. stem weight and all applicable forces such as frictional forces. corrosion resistance. control equipment. size. Screw Hoists: Screw hoists operate on the principle of a screw. The stem is subjected to tensile stresses during lifting and to compressive stresses during lowering (in case of slide gates). They are provided with square or ACME threads. a stem nut and a mechanism that permits nut rotation of the desired direction. hydraulic-oil hoists were being used for spillway gate operation (Figure ‘2’). The stems can be made of Carbon Steel. Mild Steel or Forged Steel . nuts are made of aluminum bronze.

Creep speeds on all motions of a gantry crane should be provided to enable accurate positioning. Operating Machinery Selection The type of operating machinery can include either the wire rope hoist or hydraulic hoist and the selection of type should be based on project specific conditions. This system can be further completed with a position indicator and limit switches corresponding to the gate travel extreme positions. When the crane has a cantilever runway with an auxiliary hoist. whereas maintenance gate and stoplog handling is either carried out by a rail-mounted gantry crane or a mobile crane. the gantry crane servicing the operating gate can also place the emergency closure gate and mounts integrally raking machinery. Being self-locking. Gantry Cranes: Gantry cranes and various types of mobile cranes like are used to handle different gate equipment depending upon the planning of maintenance operations of particular projects. the primary advantages of the wire rope hoist ( in case of radial gate) are that the 5 . In other installations it is used for servicing the operating gate and as a means of placing stoplogs or an emergency closure gate. mainly freestanding in a reservoir and accessed by a bridge. Creep speeds should be about 1/10 to 1/15 of normal motion speeds. transport heavy gates or stoplogs. carrying out the same functions as the trash rack cleaning machines. In motor driven screw lifts. Its operation is reliable.(a) (b) Fig. Different functions are often carried out by the same crane. In a limited number of intakes. Shapes of (a) square and (b) ACME threads The screw lift may be driven by electric motors. it can also raise a removable screen of the trash racks. it can service the operating gate and place the maintenance gate. a load limiter is provided to avoid excessive compression on the stem during the gate closure. In Figure ‘4’. as a rule. it cannot be used in installations where the gate closure is required under its own weight in the event of power failure. yet presents low efficiency and high cost when compared with wire rope hoists. Emergency closure gates must be handled by a rail-mounted gantry crane. Gantry cranes can be used to transport maintenance gates and stoplogs from their storage area to the sluiceway whereas a mobile crane cannot. For a new design.

For repair or rehabilitation of existing projects. Chain hoists. 6 . operation. c) Several gates can be operated with the same power unit. and Hydraulic hoists. operated by water pressure Rubber dams. d) They require low maintenance compared to wire rope systems. wire rope hoists may be the only practical alternative. Most commonly used spillway gates and hoists are: • • • • • • • • Radial gates. and e) They generally require shorter piers for support compared to wire rope systems.connection is easily made on the upstream face of the gate (increases moment arm for lifting force) and that there are no environmental concerns of oil spillage. the following recommendations are provided. operated by hydraulic hoists Fuse gates. Non-bushed chains subject to corrosion. and cost. Provide on-line automatic back-up engine-generator set of adequate capacity for spillway gate operation in case of power supply failure. operated with rope drum or hydraulic hoists Fixed-wheel gates. Hoists depending entirely on manual operation. and Gantry crane and/or traveling trolley hoist (except under certain circumstances). b) They can apply force in opening and closing. Recommendations Based on past and present experience regarding gate reliability. operated with rope drum or hydraulic hoists Hinged crest gates. many types of gates and their operating systems are no longer considered viable. Pinion and rack type. Hence. 2-12. operated by air or fluid pressure under inflated fabric Wire rope hoists. Advantages of hydraulic hoists include the following: a) They are generally more economical especially for relatively large lifting capacities. Avoid using the following hoists for spillway gates: • • • • • Screw stem type. maintenance.

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