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User Solutions
Roller Coaster Overhaul
Automated Integration replaced many relays, an old PLC and what seemed like miles of wire when it upgraded the control and safety system on the Hurricane roller coaster in New Mexico.
By Manny Salazar, Manager, Automated Integration, LLC.
The Hurricane roller coaster was purchased from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk in California, where it was originally installed in 1992. From there, it was disassembled, placed on 12 semi-trucks, and transported to Western Playland Amusement Park in Sunland Park, New Mexico. It took about a month to sand, paint and reassemble the roller coaster at the amusement park, where it was re-commissioned in late spring of 2015 (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Hurricane
The relocated Hurricane roller coaster was a thrill to ride, but it was very di cult to troubleshoot and maintain.
The steel track, Windstorm and Twister type coaster is quite a thrill to ride. It is approximately 55 feet tall, and the original specifications indicate the cars can reach 50 to 60 mph on the track and exceed 4 G around turns. The ride consists of two 12-passenger trains with three 4-person cars each. With nearly 1500 feet of track length, the ride time is approximately 50 seconds.
After it’s recommissioning in 2015 at its new location, the ride was very unreliable and difficult to maintain with intermittent problems. It was constantly breaking down, and the control system was very difficult to troubleshoot and repair, with many parts
obsolete. Automated Integration (www.automa-, a local system integrator, was contracted for this retrofit project to replace the coasters failing control system. There were many relays and much related wiring, along with a very old Siemens S5-100U PLC that needed to be replaced.
Automated Integration provides a variety
of automation design, maintenance, repair and programming services. It has a broad customer base in oil refineries, water utilities, food processing, HVAC building control, manufacturing and commu- nication systems. It provides controls integration
and programming services to many companies.
If a project has any level of automation using controllers, relays or similar equipment, Automated Integration can likely service and support it.
Failing Relays Cause Intermittent Faults
The entire control system was failing. It was a mess and the ride would not run reliably. Sometimes the chain drive used to pull the coaster to the top of the first hill would shut down. Sometimes the safety interlocks for the cars would fail, stopping car move- ment. The sensors used to determine speed and car position around the track were failing as well. For example, the sensors would fail to indicate a car was in the correct position to begin the ride, inhibiting the control system from starting the ride. The failures were numerous and were occurring more frequently.
The original control system was based on relay control, not a surprise considering is was designed, built and installed in 1992. There was a small Siemens S5-100U PLC used for braking functions, but this PLC was not fully operational because it had been bypassed in places by the previous owners.
One of main problems with the design was too
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Roller Coaster Overhaul
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User Solutions | Issue 43
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