Evaluate each amusement ride individually. What type of sensing solution is currently in place? How well does it work? If it is possible to replace contact switches, otherwise known as limit switches, with a non-contact solution, it will greatly improve the uptime for that ride. Contact switches with moving parts wear out quickly, whereas non-contact sensors only need to be replaced in the event that they are destroyed by collision, Mother Nature, or extremely rough handling. Consult with a manufacturer or distributor of industrial sensors and ask them for assistance with your application. Any sensor company who is interested in doing business with you should be able to support the products and answer your questions.
If a new sensor is what you desire, the next decision is which type of sensing technology to implement. There are many sensors to choose from, but in the amusement industry, the top picks are infrared photoelectric sensors and inductive proximity sensors. A transmitter photo eye projects an infrared beam of light, which is invisible to the naked human eye. A receiver photo eye reports when it sees the beam and when it doesn’t and will pass a signal to the appropriate controller. Rides that require objects to be detected from a distance or in harsh conditions, like log flume rides, river rapids, and dark, smoky theme rides are great places for photoelectric sensors.
Try an inductive proximity sensor in areas where metal objects must be detected at close range. These sensors will only detect metal and their sensing distance is limited, but they are extremely tough and can take a beating. Rides like roller coasters, where the sensor may be mounted on the track and detect the metal in the train are good applications for inductive proximity sensors. Inductive proximity sensors are excellent replacements for limit switches.
Develop a routine maintenance schedule and replace all sensors in the amusement park at least once a year. This will ensure proper function and will keep the rides operating at their peak performance. Visitors will appreciate the ride availability and you will notice improved uptime and fewer replacements throughout the year.
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