The theatre decided to have new electrical equipment installed for backstage technology during the 2010/2011 season. Industry specialist UNICAN provided the new stage automation system to control the hoists, rods and other proven mechanical components as well as most existing geared motors.
The high-availability stage automation system is a complete solution that fulfils the requirements of SIL 3 and includes HMI consoles, high-performance software, and custom-tailored enclosures with state-of-the-art axis controllers that are connected to dozens of drive units via new frequency inverters from NORD Drivesystems.
Complex automation technology and many drive units have replaced traditional hand-operated control systems in modern theatre environments. UNICAN GmbH from Neuss, Germany, is one of the few manufacturers of extensive automation-based operating and control solutions for all types of theatre stages.
The OpenCue software solution provides opera houses, theatres, congress centres and similar facilities with a modern system featuring fixed or mobile operating consoles. The HMI units and their graphical interfaces allow for easy access, continuous monitoring and versatile show programming of up to 240 drives in the upper and lower machinery areas of the stage.
Additionally, operating hoists and other machinery in the vicinity of artists, technical staff or even the audience is practically unavoidable in opera houses and theatres, often involving the lifting or moving of heavy loads. Safety measures are therefore mandatory to address this risk potential and prevent serious accidents. All safety-relevant electrical components must ensure safety integrity level SIL 3 according to EN 61508.
Highlights of UNICAN’s stage automation system installed at Theater Duisburg
- 74 drives in the upper machinery (to move rope and chain hoists above the stage area)
- 39 drives on six podiums and slopes in the lower machinery area
- Three operating consoles including two with 2 x 22” screens and one with a 19” screen
- Screens operable in an upright position or lying on the console
- Touchscreen display and keyboard integrated into the aluminium console as input devices
- Handheld HMI with a 12” touchscreen
- Customised enclosures for 100+ drives, each equipped with a UNICAN ICU series axis control computer
- Controllers feature a double CAN interface, support CANopen and are equipped with two inputs for SSI encoders and an integrated emergency stop relay
- Axis control computers available as dual channel versions for SIL 3 applications
For the axis control computers to control the electric motors, each of the more than 100 customised enclosures is equipped with an SK 535-type frequency inverter from NORD Drivesystems.
Key features of NORD's SK 500E series frequency inverters:
- SK 535E models in sizes 5 and 6 with 11 kW and 22 kW performance
- Integrated brake management, brake chopper and line filter as well as sensorless current vector control
- Basic model equipped with five configurable control inputs, two analogue inputs, one analogue output and two relay outputs
- Two digital input and two output channels and a TTL input for speed and torque control
- ‘Safe Stop’ function in compliance with EN 954-1 and EN 13849-1
- POSICON module provides powerful positioning control functions
- Controller card can be powered from a separate 24 V supply, allowing access to parameter data and bus interface in the absence of mains power
The stage automation system installed at Theater Duisberg controls more than one hundred drives in the upper and lower machinery, while also fulfilling the safety requirements of SIL 3 and enabling easy operation. Numerous customised enclosures for the stage drives, which provide a functionally safe connection between the partially modernised electric motors and the state-of-the-art control system via new frequency inverters, are the core components of the electric equipment.