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Rollercoaster Positioning

Turck’s uprox+ sensors reliably detect copper and aluminum targets on the latest roller coasters at the Europa Park

Even if inductive proximity switches are the bread and butter business in the automation sector, there are still a great deal of differences between sensor suppliers. The latest roller coasters in the Europa Park therefore rely on the sensors of Turck – the larger switching distance, a precise switch point and the clean switch response of the uprox+ sensors were the key factors in the selection.
  • The Wodan Timbur Coaster is the first wooden roller coaster in the Europa Park

  • Turck delivered uprox+ sensors in a watertight housing for the shipping fleet of the Europa park.

  • Safe enjoyment: The wheels of the Blue Fire Megacoasters grip the rails on all sides

  • The hole in the wheel of the Megacoaster is detected by the uprox+ with its precise switch point

  • The train is detected by the uprox+ sensors over the entire lift phase

  • The view below the train shows the copper brake fin of the carriage above the robust uprox+ sensor

Block system secures the wooden roller coaster

The safety requirements placed on passenger rides are extremely high – the standards are even more demanding than for elevators. Roller coasters are normally equipped with a block safety system. A block is a section of the track between two brake points of the ride. The core principle of the system is to enable a section for the train, i.e. to open the brakes only if the previous train has left the next block. The block system is also used to determine the speed of the train by recording the travel time between the blocks.

Factor-1 sensors detect copper brake fins

The system is normally monitored and controlled with proximity switches. The switches detect the so-called copper brake fins which are fastened to the bottom of the train 70 cm apart along its entire length. “Copper is a nonmagnetic metal. This is important in order to respond to the magnetic brakes which slow down the ride when required,” explains Markus Spoth, electrical engineering manager at the Europa Park. The advantage gained here is a disadvantage for the detection with inductive sensors. Inductive switches with ferrite core technology have the worst response to copper. A factor 1 sensor which guarantees the same switching distance with all metals therefore had to be used at this point. The Turck NI75 was able to stand out from the factor 1 sensors of its competitors. No other comparable switch offers such a highly reliable switching distance of around 6 centimeters. The train can have an offset of up to 2.5 centimeters to the right or left of the rails. “The sensors detect the 12 millimeter thick brake fin on the train from below and from the side. In both cases we need a clean switching performance. The Turck switches made this non-standard design possible. They supply a clean switch point in both mounting positions,” explains Gebhardt.

Silent lift hill

The section of the ride in which the train is pulled up to its descent point is known as the lift. An anti-rollback rail in the track bed ensures that the train does not uncontrollably roll back to the station if the pulling chain or another component breaks. Normally a safety anchor clatters over the anti-rollback dogs in the track bed – making a clearly audible sound in the process. In order to prevent this noise, GCI lifts the anchor with an electromagnet. GCI calls this noise-free system a silent lift hill. The train is detected by sensors and its speed monitored by the controller. As soon as the train goes below a defined speed of 1.5 m/s, this indicates that there must be a fault in the chain drive. In this case, the controller reliably switches off the electromagnets, and the anchor falls onto the ratcheted track and engages. In this way, the system also functions in the event of power failure.

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