King of the wave
Wakeboarding – a mixture of water skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing – isn’t just fun for pros. Facilities made by Sesitec, like the one at Turncable Park in Thannhausen, Germany, make the sport accessible for everyone. A state-of-the-art automation solution ensures that it isn’t just visitors but also the staff at the wakepark who really enjoy themselves.
Lisa Tomasek is not only a pro on the board, she also works at Turncable Wakepark, where she looks after the visitors at the launch platform, explains how the facility and equipment work, and operates the lift that pulls the wakeboarders around the obstacle course. She has her hands full ensuring that every visitor – from beginner to expert – is well taken care of.
The installation was developed, built and opened to the public in 2008 by the manufacturer Sesitec in partnership with Siemens Solution Partner Frey. It’s one of only a handful of facilities in Germany that offer both a clockwise and counterclockwise-turning lift. The electric cable system is built at a height of around nine meters, and a carrier pulls the tow line at a high angle to allow the wakeboarder to make jumps and other spectacular maneuvers. That’s why this park has become something of a hotspot in the wakeboarding scene over the past few years. Almost every day, real pros come to show some breathtaking jumps and tricks on the ramps and other challenging obstacles here.
For the planned modernization of the installation, customer requirements were similar to the standards expected by industrial manufacturers. In particular, the new concept focused heavily on the operator panel: it needed to offer sufficient contrast and brightness, work well in widely varying light conditions, have a large screen, and of course, be waterproof and very robust.
“In summer, we have to deal with high temperatures, and during thunderstorms we need protection from lightning,” says Jörg Koziol, Project Manager at Sesitec. “Given that the platforms float on the water, the systems must also be resistant to vibration.”
“While carrying out the modernization, we wanted that not only the visitors but also our customer – i.e. Turncable – really enjoy this installation,” Koziol remembers. “To ensure that happens, it must be possible to operate the facility reliably in any kind of weather and even with wet, slippery hands with sunscreen on them. It’s also vital that all relevant information about each visitor be available at the launch platform to offer optimal support to the employees on the lifts.”
The panel is installed right at the launch platform, where it represents the entire installation – so it needs to look good.Jörg Koziol, Project Manager at Sesitec
Operator panel acts as a flagship for the whole installation
It soon became clear to Solution Partner Frey – selected by Sesitec to develop a new control solution for the system – that the solution would be found in industrial automation. Project manager at Frey, Daniel Waidhas, explains: “We hunted around the market and only found a few operator panels capable of meeting Sesitec’s requirements: a large screen, suitable for outdoor use, rugged and yet easy to operate, with an appropriate, robust control solution. On the basis of these requirements, we opted for a 15-inch Simatic HMI Comfort Outdoor Panel and the Simatic ET 200SP controller”. For Jörg Koziol, the appealing design was an important criterion: “The panel is installed right at the launch platform, where visitors go out onto the water. This makes the operator panel important because it represents the entire installation – so it needs to look good."
Detailed visualization enables individualized customer care
In addition to controlling the lifts, the new control unit also needed to be seamlessly integrated into the checkout system at Turncable so that the staff at the lift knows which customer currently wants to get on the water, what kind of ticket they have, and how often they’ve been out on the boards already. Sesitec faced several challenges, particularly when it came to visualization.
Not only do the wakeboarders give their name when they check in, they also have their photo taken. They identify themselves with their ticket at the launch platform – a waterproof wristband with a bar code, which is scanned at the launch platform – and staff at the lift can then use the photo on the control panel to check that the ticket and customer match up. This information also goes along with each visitor during their ride, so that the operators can see exactly who is out on the water and where they are.
At the same time, the system needed to be as simple to use as possible – a real challenge at times, such as managing the transfer of data from the checkout system to the control system. Siemens supported the team with the implementation and, in the end, helped create an excellent solution that everyone is happy with.
Already a proven success
Lisa Tomasek explains how simply the system works on a day-to-day basis: “Visitors come to us, scan their tickets in, we see their name and photo on the screen, and the name goes with them on their ride. That makes it much easier for me to concentrate on each individual, and I have more time for the customers.” Koziol is also very satisfied: “The visualization meets all of the requirements: colors, pop-up windows with additional information, slide-in windows… It all works and looks great.”
In the meantime, the next rider is out on the water. He skillfully rides over the ramp and spins in the air. Lisa watches with a knowing smile – at the same time, a glance at the control panel lets her keep an eye on the whole installation.
The lift installation at the wakepark is an excellent example of reliability, outdoor suitability and usability.
Picture credits: Siemens AG/W. Geyer
Sesitec has been a well-established part of the water sports scene ever since Christian von Lerchenfeld founded the company in 1992. Following over 20 years of innovation and experience in planning and implementation, and after constructing more than 320 installations worldwide, Sesitec has made its name as a leader in the field of two-tower cable wakeboarding.
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