The park bench of the future should always be dry and also be modern, high-quality, space-saving and elegant in appearance. To ensure that the appearance in the public space remains appealing for a long time, the park bench should also raise the inhibition threshold for potential vandals. Robi AG has found an answer to all these demands - and at the same time an efficient partner for modern machine elements.
Robi AG from the Swiss municipality of Wallbach specialises in the development and distribution of municipal waste disposal systems. The company's origins are based on the invention of the dog toilet, which has been known under the "Robidog" brand since 1981. With the later added brands "Robiclean" for litter bins and "Robibag" for refuse sacks, the company enjoys an excellent reputation among purchasers, urban planners and waste specialists throughout Europe on the subject of cleanliness in cities and municipalities. As a result, topics beyond waste are discussed with the Wallbach field staff time and again. This was also the case in this assignment.
Many municipal representatives are concerned, not only because of the demographic development, but also for social reasons, to turn squares and parks into places to rest, communicate and linger by providing benches. However, even a short downpour or a little morning dew can limit the usability of a classic bench for several hours. Appropriately, project manager Heinz Zumsteg from Robi AG explains the task: "First and foremost, this project was about developing a product that increases the availability of the infrastructure and thus provides real added value for the municipalities and the population. Logically, there are always disposal containers in the vicinity of park benches, and a bench is therefore an ideal addition to our existing product range."
The idea for a bench that automatically folds up when not in use and is simultaneously protected by a roof came to an inventor from the canton of Aargau a few years ago. For the mechanism, which has since been patented, the inventor thought of using gas springs from the outset. These were supposed to help children and older people to push the seat down very easily and then let it move up again gently and in a harmonious movement to fold in when the person sitting on it got up. On the one hand, this would fulfil the desired side effect of the benches' low space consumption and, on the other, their more pleasant visual appearance. At the same time, urban planners and landscape gardeners know that attractive-looking objects are much less likely to be the target of vandalism in public than, for example, plastic street furniture.
The way to the product is also appealing
However, in order to be able to offer not only a visually appealing, but at the same time high-quality and durable solution, the team from Switzerland went on the Internet in search of a suitable supplier. Heinz Zumsteg gives a brief insight into the decision-making process: "We very quickly came across ACE Stoßdämpfer GmbH. Their website was appealing for several reasons. Firstly, we were able to find the desired gas spring products in just a few clicks, and secondly, a digital design option was also available there. However, the decisive factor for us was that we had easy access to our personal contact at ACE very quickly after contacting them online. Because of the solution, which was new for us, we wanted to get advice from experts."
This is how it came about that after a series of different individual designs by ACE, different gas springs could be installed and tested in a prototype for the park bench, which has since been christened "Bankomat". ACE industrial gas springs of the type GS-19-250-CA-100N are used for the series, which has meanwhile been exclusively licensed by ROBI AG. Thanks to their infinitely variable extension force of 50 N to 700 N, the design of this type can also be implemented in other applications without any problems.
In this specific case, the determined initial and opening angles as well as the mass of the seat surface, among other factors, led to a desired extension force of 100 N. Since the industrial gas springs from ACE are equipped with a valve, they can be adapted exactly to the desired force values. And due to their small body diameter of 19 mm and a length in the extended state of 564 mm, the two installed gas springs can be easily integrated into the interior of the protective and at the same time decorative facing of the park bench. A large number of add-on parts make the installation even easier.
The ready-to-install, maintenance-free, self-contained systems are durable and filled with pressurised nitrogen gas. The filling pressure determines the extension force and can always be regulated via the aforementioned valve. At Robi AG, the tests have been completed in the meantime. The positive results have led to the parking benches called "Bankomat" being sold since 2020.
For cases in which not only the actual product should meet high visual standards, but also the gas spring itself is in focus, ACE also has stainless steel variants of these modern machine elements in stock as standard. These are mainly used in applications in medical technology as well as in the electronics, automotive and furniture industries. With its solutions in the field of speed regulation, ACE has long since moved beyond the familiar paths of mechanical engineering, but also supports the muscle power of people in leisure furniture or aesthetically high-quality park and urban furniture such as that of Robi AG.