Design Considerations for Use of Koala Continuous Belay

Koala Continuous Belay is a smart, simple, and transfer-free lifeline for use in challenge courses, aerial parks, and zip lines. Users are attached to the lifeline using the dual-sheave trolley called the “Pouliz” that serves as both the life-safety connection and as a high-performance zip trolley.  Continuous runs of wire rope pass around trees, poles, or other structural columns forming uninterrupted trails. Specialized “arms” anchor the wire rope to the column and allow the Pouliz to pass freely and continue tracking along the lifeline path.  By eliminating in-course transfers, like smart belay systems require, Koala Continuous Belay reduces risk, makes aerial adventure simpler for the user, and promotes efficient operations for managers.
Koala Continuous Belay Child on aerial elementKoala Continuous Belay Child on aerial element

Koala Continuous Belay can serve a wide range of ages and abilities. The Pouliz that connects the user to the lifeline rolls smoothly across the wire rope and requires limited manipulation to pass anchor arms. Eliminating transfers common to static and smart belays means users can more quickly become oriented to the equipment and move more efficiently throughout the course.  Children and people with limited mobility can move with more independence and users of all ages can master the basics of Koala Continuous Belay with ease.  

THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS

Getting the most of out of your design with an installation of Koala Continuous Belay, whether as a retrofit or new installation, requires an understanding of key parameters and considerations common to continuous systems. Let’s start by identifying some of the basic components that make Koala work so well.

THE POULIZ is the dual-sheave trolley used to lock the user to the lifeline. The Pouliz has a channel small enough to prevent unintentional removal from the lifeline and large enough to pass over the anchor arms. A key-activated quick release allows operators to perform quick and error-free evacuations from the lifeline.  The soon to be released Pouliz 3.0 features an improved design, the addition of a tether swivel, and a redesigned emergency release key mechanism.

 

FOLDED AND FLAT ARMS are the critical link that connects the lifeline to the structural column (i.e. trees or poles) and there are several variants to choose from. Folded arms are used in most common applications where the lifeline is being anchored to a column on one side of a horizontal activity.


Koala Continuous Belay Folded Arms with Mallions and Wire RopeKoala Continuous Belay with Flat Arms and Metal Brackets

Designers and builders can select from a range of common attachment strategies for attaching the arm to the column including cable wraps and nut-eye-bolts.

The Folded arms are intended to move in conjunction with the wire rope they support to reduce wear to the system over time. This allows for the orientation of the arm to vary to an extent that the user may need to rotate the Pouliz several degrees to align the Pouliz channel and pass the arm. The variety of attachment options for the Folded arm makes it easy to offset the lifeline from the center of the activity.

Koala Continuous Belay Folded Arm

Flat arms are intended to be fixed to the column using a corresponding bracket or by other means that resist the float common to the Folded arm.  These work great for courses designed for young children and other users with limited spatial and or motor control as the arms stay consistently oriented to the natural position of the Pouliz channel. 
Koala Continuous Belay Flat ArmFlat arms are more limited than Folded arms in how they can be attached to the column and in most cases must remain centered over the activity with limited options for off-set installation. 

Zip arms are larger versions of the Folder arms providing the additional strength to Koala Continuous Belay Child Zip Linecarry the load of extended zip lines. They are used in conjunction with the Backup component for additional security.  Several different size zip arms are available to support a range of zip line lengths and loads.
Koala Continuous Belay Zip Line ArmKoala Continuous Belay Back up for Zip Line


SCREW-IN METAL BRACKETS are used to support and position the wire rope to promote easy movement of the trolley. IMPORTANT: Unlike the Folded and Flat arms, the Screw-in Metal Brackets do not serve as structural anchors and should always be used in applications where the lifeline is present for continuity only and in conjunction with properly configured arms. Screw-in Metal Brackets are commonly used to support the arc of wire rope between two arms as it moves around a column.

This helps to support the arch of wire rope when passing a column and resists the drooping tendency and any possible contact between the trolley and column.

SWAPPERS create forks in the trail that allow users to swap from one route to another. Mechanical Swappers are easier for young children to operate and can be fixed to prevent traffic to one of the associated trails. This can be a great option for adding an emergency exit from your course allowing operators to efficiently deviate users to a pre-established course evacuation point that remains inaccessible during normal use.  


The Y Swapper requires more manual dexterity to pass and allow the user to choose their path.  Y Swappers are great for platforms and stations serving more than 2 activities. 
Koala Continuous Belay Y Swapper
THE SWITCH 
allows users to switch from one lifeline to another while maintaining continuity in the system. Intended to be used primarily for ascending and descending applications, the Switch can be paired with devices like the Deus 7500, ISC Alf, and Powerfan to create dynamic activities more difficult to achieve with other continuous belay systems. The user can easily complete an error-free transition of their Pouliz from the lifeline to a shuttle connected to an appropriate life-safety device.  The user can then complete an error-free transition from the shuttle to a corresponding lifeline serviced by a Switch station.



WIRE ROPE CONNECTIONS

Koala Continuous Belay is installed using a radial forging process known as swaging that locks the lifeline to the corresponding arms, swappers, and switches providing a secure connection equal to the breaking strength of the wire rope.  Separate ferrules are used in some applications while components are swaged directly to the lifeline in others. The strength of the swaged components means you will never experience wire rope slippage found in some other systems.
Koala Continuous Belay Ferrule Instruction

DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

Now that you know a few things about the basic components, let’s look at some specific design considerations to get the most out of Koala Continuous Belay. First and foremost, Koala is intended to provide critical life-safety support to horizontal activities and zip lines and should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations and requirements. IMPORTANT: All sloping activities rising or falling by more than two degrees (3.5% slope) must ensure users safety through activity design or with a suitable fall arrestor or other similar devices. Koala Continuous Belay is designed to be used in conjunction with 12mm galvanized steel wire rope. Approved ropes included 6x26 IWRC. Not all 12mm wire rope has been approved for use with Koala. Only qualified persons should attempt to install Koala Continuous Belay. IMPORTANT: All columns, trees, and other structural components used in conjunction with Koala Continuous Belay must be independently verified to be sufficient in strength to support anticipated loads.

Designers should pay special attention to course access and egress points. Because traditional ascending elements may not be appropriate because of the danger related to unintentional zipping should a user fall, many designers chooKoala Continuous Belay Switchse to use stairs and stair towers to efficiently move large volumes of users between levels.  Soft-sided and sure-footed activities like taco nets can also serve as access points where throughput is not the top priority.  Vertical ascending stations using the Switch, while in many cases not recommended for primary access, can be a great option that relieves pressure from other access points and descending stations and zip lines can provide easy exit points.

A few more tips and tricks to consider when putting together your Koala project.  As with most things in life, prior proper planning for your Koala installation will prevent poor performance of the system over its lifetime. Aerial Adventure Tech can help review your course design and identify trouble spots that may lead to bottlenecks and excessive component wear before you start your project.  Platforms and activities should be in place prior to installing Koala Continuous Belay. This will ensure the system is installed in the proper orientation and for optimal performance. Installed Koala components should stay within reach of the intended user to allow for smooth transitions and efficient flow throughout the course. IMPORTANT: Sharp turns in the lifeline should be avoided as they can create excess wear to components and impede the movement of the trolley. Turnbuckles can be used with zip arms to allow for easy zip line tuning and adjustability.

MISSION-CRITICAL DETAILS

There are a few limits to use that you should be aware of:
  • Separate life-safety protection must be used for activities with a slope in excess of 3.5%
  • Maximum user weight is 299.2lbs and the system is designed to support the activity of one adult and one child (up to 4’ 7” in height) per span
  • Each span can accommodate the addition of a rescuer when evacuation is necessary
  • Platforms should be limited to 3 people in normal operations and like activities can accommodate the addition of one rescuer
  • Evacuations should always be performed from the lifeline positioned over the activity and never performed from platform

PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION AND SUPPORT

Now you have the basics to get started with thinking about your Koala project.  Whether looking to retrofit an existing course or park or looking to create a new and unique facility, Aerial Adventure Tech can help you understand the benefits and application of Koala Continuous Belay.  We can provide insight into your design and help identify considerations that will help you get the most from the system. Koala Continuous Belay works for a wide range of age and ability while improving operational efficiencies and reducing risk associated with other types of belay systems. Click to contact AAT and start your Koala consultation today.

Koala Continuous Belay SystemKoala Continuous Belay is Manufactured by Altus; a global challenge course and aerial park design and installation company based in the heart of the French Alps.