Smoothly crossing the threshold

Delta and Delft Integraal/Outlook often write about innovative ideas that offer big promises for the future. But what has happened to such ideas a couple years on? What for instance has happened to ‘RollerLift’, a wheelsystem that makes it easier to pass over a threshold?

Delta, 20-9-2007
“In the near future containers may easily run over a threshold, because of the revolutionary castor, the Rollerlift.” 

Elderly people struggling to cross a doorstep with their rollators. That’s what Martin van Rijn observed five years ago, when visiting his girlfriend who worked at a physical therapy rehabilitation centre. Van Rijn had just graduated as an industrial designer and thought there should be a solution to this problem. This inspired him to come up with the ‘RollerLift’, a system that incorporates an extra, small wheel, called a castor.
“The RollerLift uses the mass and the energy of a cart in a smart and optimised way to cross a threshold”, says Van Rijn, who currently works at the TNO research centre. “When someone reaches a doorstep, the weight of the cart shifts from the normal wheel over to the small wheel that rests on the threshold. This is done with the help of a sliding mechanism with springs. In this way the wheels run over the threshold smoothly.”
After discussions with industry, the focus of the RollerLift shifted from rollators to rolling containers on casters. Several wheel developers were enthusiastic about Van Rijn’s invention; however, they wanted to see if the RollerLift could be standardized according to the one-size-fits-all principle. “My first version had to be adapted each time to the size and weight of containers”, Van Rijn recalls. “Industrial designer and TU Delft alumni Manger Cats came up with a solution. He became my business associate and invented a new system. The sliding mechanism was replaced by a rotating one. A single wheel configuration now supports a wide variety of containers and carts with different weights and dimensions.”

Van Rijn is currently working together with wheel manufacturer D&M Holland to make prototypes of this new system. “We’ll have to test whether it works as well as we think it does”, says the industrial designer. “We’ll also analyse how long the wheels will last. It’s very important that we show that RollerLift is a product that can be trusted. If a container company in the future uses our wheels, they have to be absolutely sure that the wheels will work. If that’s not the case, their whole logistic process shuts down. Because of this, we have a long way to go. I’m not sure when we can put the RollerLift on the market; it all depends on how the prototype performs in the tests.”

The TU Delft student political party Oras is looking for international students interested in becoming involved in student politics and the university’s Central Student Council. Would you like to have a positive impact on the internationalization process, help represent the international community to the TU Executive Board and be involved in TU Delft policy making? Interested students should contact Rose Manouchehri:

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