How digitalization creates the perfect wave
Surfing is dependent on weather and wind conditions. Surfers crowd the best spots hoping to catch a perfect wave, if and when it comes, and beginners struggle to learn amid the unpredictability. It’s a hard sport to learn, if you can make it out to the ocean.
But Tom Lochtefeld, founder and CEO of Surf Loch, a California-based company, had a vision of giving everyone access to the perfect wave. This meant designing, manufacturing and managing a pool that produces accurate and repeatable waves, so surfers of all skill levels had the chance to ride the wave of their choice.
To accomplish this, Surf Loch embraces digital transformation. The team utilized the Siemens’ Digital Enterprise portfolio to design and optimize their surf wave technology.
Why choose Siemens?
As the software and automation technology and capabilities evolved, the cost of computerization decreased. That helped Lochtefeld realize it was a good time to invest in this dream. When it came to choosing the right digital tools to accomplish this, they opted for Siemens’ Xcelerator and its capabilities that would allow them to program and create their own waves.
For Surf Loch, choosing the right software and services stemmed from positive experiences they had about Siemens’ automation and controllers that are also deployed in the wave pools. They felt it only made sense to use the same company for software as they do hardware. Lochtefeld couldn’t have been happier. Regarding moving to Siemens software, he says "It's the best decision we've ever made."
They put a great deal of confidence into the technology. While they did a 1/10 scale model for proof of concept, they also had to trust simulations of their wave system as they created a full-size test facility in Palm Springs based on simulations. They further had to trust the accuracy of the motion control (FA) of the physical waves in the pool.
Ultimately, their entire vision would not have been realized without Siemens. Not only did this mean trust in the NX CAD models they built before going to production, but quicker design iterations, confidence through digital modelling and timing precision through motion control.
Although they were a small team of engineers, they were part of an open ecosystem of software and automation so communication with each other and the data could be leveraged by their partners in construction of facilities and building equipment.
Surf Loch combined the real and digital worlds by creating a comprehensive digital twin of their wave before testing it in their facility. They discovered that the generated virtual model and the physical wave were identical. The digital twin also meant Surf Loch had the capabilities to create and test different wave variants to ensure their virtual waves were comparable to the variety of waves surfers experience in the ocean.
Waves get formed to the 1000th of a second, therefore creating a surfing wave necessitates mathematical precision. It requires controlling the valves, which control the air, which control the water, which controls the wave breaking. To meet this challenge, Surf Loch engineers used Simcenter for airflow and strength analysis of the big pneumatic fans in the caissons.
That took care of creating the waves, but how can they monitor multiple sites around the globe? Surf Loch is using Teamcenter to manage data and documents. Vendors, partners and the Surf Loch team can now revise designs collaboratively in real time.
As Surf Loch wave pools gain popularity and their number across the world increase, Surf Loch plans to monitor them closely, remotely. MindSphere enables them to combine IoT technology with data monitoring and analytics, in order to control the status of all systems and to perform predictive maintenance before something breaks down.
400 waves an hour
In the ocean, the average surfer would be lucky to get five waves in an hour — and that’s considered doing pretty good. Even top-class surfers don’t get more than ten waves an hour. The versatile and customizable waves allows beginners to learn on a consistent, repeatable waveform, whereas more skilled surfers can choose which waves they want to ride.
With Surf Loch technology, users get basically as many waves as they pay for. When the best surfers max out at ten waves per hour in the ocean, Surf Loch’s Las Vegas wave pool will have the capability of generating over 400 waves an hour on outside and inside reefs.
Surf Loch is truly an inspiring story: This small, digital enterprise combined passion and innovation with Siemens’ Digital Enterprise technology to bring their dreams to fruition.
What is it about surfing? For many, it’s freedom. It’s a sense of adventure and the feel of riding the wave with the wind and spray hitting you as you come into shore. It’s sun-tanned skin and a sense of community that spans across the globe.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets to experience this. Surfing is dependent on weather and wind conditions; the good spots are generally crowded and beginners struggle to catch waves that seem few and far between.
Tom Lochtefeld always dreamt of building a wave park where surfers feel like they’re riding on an actual ocean wave. To create these perfect waves, Lochtefeld, who is the founder and CEO of Surf Loch, needed the technology that controlled various elements, such as power, control and timing of the water all situated within a wave pool.
To develop Surf Loch technology and to get it where it's currently at, Lochtefeld has put his years of experience behind him and has waited for the technology and computing capabilities to get where they’re at now.
How does Surf Loch re-create the perfect ocean waves in a wave pool? They embraced digital transformation while always having the experience of their customers in mind.
Tom Lochtefeld, Surf Loch’s CEO, says: “Making the perfect wave requires an astounding amount of calculation. Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio gives us this capability. We leverage the world’s most comprehensive digital twin within an ecosystem of technology suppliers and equipment providers. This ecosystem allows us to create repeatable waves that all surfer will enjoy.”
It’s becoming clear that the cost of technology combined with the ability to create a small pool has made it possible for companies and individuals to have a wave pool on their premises.
Customization based on the size, location and intent is a critical factor in the Surf Loch business model.
From a commercial perspective, the buyer of a Surf Loch pool is looking for something that is highly marketable, with high user throughput capacity and the ability to put a large volume of riders through so they can generate revenue per person. Because the surfer will vary in skill level, from first-time riders to professional surfers, it must also be safe, robust and reliable.
Because the Surf Loch technology is so versatile and customizable, it means it can accommodate surfers of all skill levels, all at the same time regardless of the size of the pool. Even in the smallest pool, waves can be adjusted for the surfer’s skill level.
Scott Pohler, VP of business development at Surf Loch, believes that one of the things that makes these wave pools special is how they’ll motivate current surfers to get better. “You aspire to always progress and improve, and everybody has their different levels whether it's smoothing out your style or wanting to do airs or working on your barrel riding or even using different types of boards.”
Surf Loch’s wave pools will expand interest and enthusiasm to areas thousands of miles from any ocean wave and open up competitive surfing to countless competitors as competitive events won’t be restricted to ocean waves.
How is Surf Loch managing to bring surfing to the masses? It’s a combination of passion and technology. For Tom Lochtefeld and the team, Siemens provides the ability to blur the boundaries of the real and digital worlds, and offers all the technologies to today to build surfing waves of tomorrow.