A communications upgrade for the ultimate thrill ride
By Lauren Robeson
Antonio Zamperla SPA, a major theme-park attraction company whose rides can be experienced worldwide, offers something for everyone: coaster-lovers of all ages and their less thrill-seeking friends. Even for the former group, the Disk’O Coaster is surely an adventure: It essentially rocks and spins riders who sit in pedestal seats that face outward, offering a visual smorgasbord while speeding along a 300-foot (100-meter) track at up to 43 miles per hour (70 km/h). A feeling of weightlessness for the riders only adds to the target audience’s thrills. It’s a major attraction for many park visitors, and a prime example of Zamperla’s dedication to thinking outside the box when it comes to artistry and movement in its rides.
All in all, it’s a ride for which you’d want to have as many safety checks as possible.
Three years ago in Altavilla Vicentina, Italy, Zamperla started conducting testing to make the Disk’O Coaster even safer. They had been using a non-Safety I/O PLC with a more conventional Bluetooth wireless system that was based on standard OMNI antennas. Different solutions were considered, and Zamperla eventually decided to opt for a setup involving a Rockwell Automation CompactLogix™ L43S. That solution also involved the communications implementation of ProSoft Technology’s Industrial Hotspot Ethernet radios for safety I/O, along with a Power DC and PowerFlex™ 7S drive on the remote side of the solution.
The addition of ProSoft’s radios came about from the recommendation of Michele Piccoli and Davide Gasparini of Rockwell Automation.
“Thanks to ProSoft Technology’s wireless solution, it was possible to provide a complete proposal to Zamperla,” Mr. Piccoli said. “It was easy to work together to evaluate, test, realize, and set up the solution.”
ProSoft Technology Regional Sales Manager Andrea Mazzucchelli worked with them to come up with a solution that would help ensure the safety of the Disk’O Coaster’s riders.
The main goal in the new communications system was to replace the previous Bluetooth communication setup, incorporating distributed Safety POINT I/O™. The Safety POINT I/O™ was used on board the ride to monitor the safety belts and the doors of the coaster. ProSoft’s radios also increased reliability and throughput, working in conjunction with the CompactLogix to provide a smooth, safe ride for thrill-seekers. When safety is a top priority and equipment is moving as fast as the Disk’O Coaster often is, highly reliable connections are a must.
The Industrial Hotspot radios have helped improve the communications system, according to Fabio Berti, chief engineer for Zamperla. The radios support fast RF data rates up to 300 Mbps, delivering great packet-per-second performance and ensuring reliable communication. The company also appreciated being able to monitor the radios’ performance and status using an HMI, thanks to diagnostic tags. Between the system performance and ease of use, Zamperla saw that ProSoft’s radios within a Rockwell Automation infrastructure offered a solution that was too good to pass up.
“The goal was to improve the efficiency and the security of the application,” Mr. Berti said. “Thanks to ProSoft’s wireless Ethernet-based solution, it is possible to use Safety I/O and improve the data rate of communication, satisfying Zamperla’s needs.”
An added bonus was ProSoft Technology’s technical support commitment. The company offers technical support for all products, and regional offices around the world ensure that you’ll hear from ProSoft’s experts as soon as possible.
“We’re proud to have been able to provide Zamperla with a wireless solution that’s perfectly fit to keep up with the Disk’O Coaster,” Mr. Mazzucchelli said.
For more information about ProSoft Technology’s Industrial Wireless Solutions, click here.