When it comes to the safe passenger transport of millions of visitors per season in adventure parks, state-of-the-art technology is required for attractions with EMERGENCY STOP command. With its industrial automation technology including wireless communication, Siemens provides for the safety prescribed on the rail-bound "round flight".
Via Industrial Wireless LAN technology (IWLAN), wirelessly controlled nacelles can securely and seamlessly be navigated in real-time within a defined radio field – even outdoors in wind and rain. The radiating cable RCoax is routed alongside the traversing path of the mobile stations, e.g. in the rail of an overhead monorail conveyor. Due to its special radiation characteristic, it is an antenna that can be laid as cable. It ensures a reliable radio link even at locations where otherwise complex omnidirectional or directional antenna systems would be required.
In Germany’s largest seasonal theme park, the EUROPA-PARK Rust near Freiburg, a wireless RCoax solution makes Leonardo da Vinci's greatest dream being able to fly come true. One of his ideas: the flight spiral, a predecessor of the helicopter. Even though his technology failed then, it has now become reality at the EUROPA-PARK – as a family attraction referred to as “Volo da Vinci”.
Fail-safe IWLAN communication
The main controller is a PROFINET-capable, fail-safe SIMATIC S7‑300F integrated in the central cabinet in the engineering room of “Volo da Vinci”: It communicates with the controllers and drives of the individual nacelles via an Industrial Wireless LAN-System (IWLAN) - wireless and fail-safe. The antenna segments of different lengths laid along the entire route provide for the trouble-free flow of data between the main controller and the vehicles.
The IWLAN clients in distributed switch boxes installed on the nacelles serve as counterparts that automatically communicate with the nearest antennas on the route. This ensures that the strongest WLAN signal is used. Uninterrupted communication is also ensured at the transitions between the individual segments or when passing through the divert switch at the station.
The position of the nacelles on the route is captures by special code readers and transmitted to the central safety controller via PROFINET and IWLAN. The safety controller checks the values for plausibility, monitors the minimum distances, initiates the prescribed safety measures as required and slows down the nacelles accordingly. The maximum driving speed and the driving direction are checked as well. Siemens SITOP power supplies fed via contact conductors reliably power the slider equipment.
The system is operated and monitored via another Siemens component: the SIMATIC touch panel connected via Industrial Ethernet at the conductor's house – the control center. The operating states and positions of the nacelles are displayed during operation. Furthermore, the individual nacelles can be selected and specifically traversed, e.g. to the maintenance and standby place.
Secure and reliable from day one
"Since the commissioning of “Volo da Vinci” last summer, the new and first IWLAN-based controller system at the EUROPA-PARK has been operating even better and more stably than expected for the first application", comments Markus Spoth, head Electrical Engineering Manager at the EUROPA-PARK. "From the start-up phase until today there was not a single fault which might have been caused by the IWLAN technology - neither in high summer temperatures, nor under moist conditions in autumn, nor during the cold in winter. We are thus extremely satisfied with the solution and its implementation."