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ControlsEE

I probably should be working...
Oct 2, 2018
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So last week I was at a client's facility to install vision systems at a couple of stations on their assembly lines for Zero-Turn mower transmissions. My company had installed the control system for these two particular lines back in '05, long before I worked there, but I have gotten a good look at what was done back then during my service call last Wed-Fri. Anyways, they keep track of each transmission (Full model number, serial number, etc) by placing them on a sled with an RFID chip. Each time the sled enters a "station," the RFID is read and the picking lights for the worker on the line instruct what parts are used and in what order to install them before releasing to the next station. What this has to do with Skyride, you will see in a minute. For some background, during my time at BGW, I was at Skyride for one regular season, as well as two CT's. The Skyride usually can have 3 or 4 operators per station, with positions at Catch, Load/Unload, and Trip. Trip is a very safety precarious position. While the cabins lock simply by closing the door, they do have a "double-lock" in which the trip operator will enable with their key. Not double locking the cabin is a safety violation, which can be cause to be removed from rides. This means that the park keeps careful track of who is in the trip position and exactly which cabins they send out. This is done on paper logs, which are very important to stay on top of. These do have some very obvious shortcomings, mainly that they can be falsified. They mitigate this with pens, but if someone going into Trip does not write down their first cabin and their last cabin, who knows exactly what cabins they sent out. Getting to the concept now, my idea is to change over from a pen and paper system to an electronic log system within the ride's control system, utilizing RFID chips. Each cabin would have a RFID tag that is scanned at each station, when it comes in and when it is sent out. Each operator would have an RFID bracelet, or similar RFID device, scanning it to a reader at the trip position before the trip mechanism releases the cabin onto the cable. The control system will associate each cabin RFID with each operator RFID and store that information until the cabin is scanned at the next station. Upon arriving to the ride, operators would "login" by assigning their name to a RFID tag. Operators would keep the RFID tag on them for the duration of their shift (minus breaks). This system would allow the ride to keep track of exactly what cabins are out on the line at any time as well as who sent each cabin. This opens the ride up an entirely different operation scheme if they so choose, by allowing all operators to complete all positions, being able to have the operator catch the cabin, manually push it through unload and load, then put it in Trip. This would be a lot safer then the current system of handing off the cabin from operator to operator, where an operator could get hit by a cabin if they are not paying attention. It also allows one more step in the release process, ensuring that the Trip device will not release until a valid RFID is scanned. The time in which a cabin goes through a station is of concern, but I don't think that the extra step of tapping their wrist against a reader before releasing the cabin would cause much delay, especially if the reader was placed in a convenient location. Another reader could be placed at the catch position in which if the catch operator sees a single locked cabin, could tap their bracelet to it, in which park ops supervisors could further investigate. This would add an extra level of accountability, preventing "backstabbing" behavior, which I have witnessed at various rides where a petty feud would result in one worker spreading lies, especially safety related ones, about another team member they have beef with. I don't think this catch scan is as necessary as the trip scan, but it is an idea to potentially make this system better. I had been thinking of sending these ideas to some of my former co-workers, who have since worked their way up the park ops ladder and would have the pull to try and get a system like this implemented. Thoughts?
 
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Oct 7, 2011
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Weatherproofing and impact proofing of cabin-mounted RFID tags, broken readers, broken/lost bracelets, ops sharing bracelets, the need for paper-and-pen backup and the old station assignments for when the system sometimes goes down, on-demand tech-side management to make 100% certain that ops' bracelets and all cabins' tags are correctly assigned including when they are replaced, etc.

RFID reading at a significant distance may require powered rather than passive tags on the cabins, unlike bracelets which should be scannable with no on-board battery. Just hold them up to a pedestal or wall mounted reader.

All solvable or at least addressable IMO, though admittedly I am no expert (last time I could claim real contemporary expertise on the topic was waaaaay back in 2001). RFID has -- QED -- has been industry-ready for quite a long time and I feel it is underused.

Solid idea!
 

ControlsEE

I probably should be working...
Oct 2, 2018
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Weatherproofing and impact proofing of cabin-mounted RFID tags, broken readers, broken/lost bracelets, ops sharing bracelets, the need for paper-and-pen backup and the old station assignments for when the system sometimes goes down, on-demand tech-side management to make 100% certain that ops' bracelets and all cabins' tags are correctly assigned including when they are replaced, etc.

RFID reading at a significant distance may require powered rather than passive tags on the cabins, unlike bracelets which should be scannable with no on-board battery. Just hold them up to a pedestal or wall mounted reader.

All solvable or at least addressable IMO, though admittedly I am no expert (last time I could claim real contemporary expertise on the topic was waaaaay back in 2001). RFID has -- QED -- has been industry-ready for quite a long time and I feel it is underused.

Solid idea!
Thanks, I was thinking that the Cabin side tags would be mounted to the trolley above the Cabin to avoid impacts, correctly align the tag, and be able to keep the readers closer to the tag, keeping the power requirement for the readers low. Would also reduce failed reads. Assigning tags for operators could be done by a assignment/unassignment routine that is done by the operator typing in their name in the HMI and pressing an on screen button, then scanning their RFID tag. Would eliminate issues with operators changing others tags since you would have to physically have the tag to change the operator for that tag. The biggest problem would probably be operators forgetting to take off or stealing their tags from the ride. Lastly, these would be industrial rated systems, so weatherproofing is not an issue.
 
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Jonesta6

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I like the idea - what if the TM tags were required to be checked out for each shift to prevent credential theft?

Also, from my understanding about the Trip position is it's to ensure the door is double locked, right? So if they're going to be upgrading to a relatively expensive system why not automate the door lock by requiring the previous station to scan that it's complete/computer double-checks? If it's not scanned or the computer check comes back negative, the station wouldn't allow the cabin to be sent.
 

ControlsEE

I probably should be working...
Oct 2, 2018
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I like the idea - what if the TM tags were required to be checked out for each shift to prevent credential theft?

Also, from my understanding about the Trip position is it's to ensure the door is double locked, right? So if they're going to be upgrading to a relatively expensive system why not automate the door lock by requiring the previous station to scan that it's complete/computer double-checks? If it's not scanned or the computer check comes back negative, the station wouldn't allow the cabin to be sent.
The issue is keeping from having to power the cabins. That would be way more expensive to implement. It may be possible with a vision system, but with how much the Cabin sways, it would be difficult to keep the system from failing the check, simply because of a movement by the cabin.

With the theft problem, each tag could have a number engraved on it and the system could log that number as well so that if one dissapeared, the supervisors could look back at the logs and see who had it last.
 

Jonesta6

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I was figuring that a TM would be required to login to their tag to start their shift using whatever credentials they'd normally use (maybe add a pin code or something if there's still too much concern for TMs stealing from other TMs), it'd be fairly simple in concept to do something like that.

How about the previous station scans by swiping their tag on the cabin when they've locked it, a tag on the floor or roof is scanned through essentially a permanent mat similar to how bib tags are used in running races (mats are powered, tags are passive) grabs the cabin details and brings it up on a screen for the TM to then swipe their tag again to verify. Obviously if the TM fails to comply then it's the same issue as it would be with the manual system.

However, how hard would it be to provide low power to each cabin since it's currently done for CT lights?
 
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ControlsEE

I probably should be working...
Oct 2, 2018
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I was figuring that a TM would be required to login to their tag to start their shift using whatever credentials they'd normally use (maybe add a pin code or something if there's still too much concern for TMs stealing from other TMs), it'd be fairly simple in concept to do something like that.

How about the previous station scans by swiping their tag on the cabin when they've locked it, a tag on the floor or roof is scanned through essentially a permanent mat similar to how bib tags are used in running races (mats are powered, tags are passive) grabs the cabin details and brings it up on a screen for the TM to then swipe their tag again to verify. Obviously if the TM fails to comply then it's the same issue as it would be with the manual system.

However, how hard would it be to provide low power to each cabin since it's currently done for CT lights?
True, I forgot about the CT lights. The RFID system would probably be based on a system like this, a system that my company has used a fair amount of and probably the most popular manufacturer's for amusement ride control equipment. pepperl-fuchs RFID Product Line They have systems that can read/write up to 13' away! Keep in mind that prices listed on the website are usually not the final price that someone like us pays, since they do have various discounts. That said, the prices don't look too awful, especially that the reader systems would probably be around 3-5k per station and the rest of the cost would be for the tags and the software labor to implement this in the current system. This system would be completely unpowered on the cabin side.
 
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Nov 24, 2009
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This seems like many other things...would this system be nice...yes, would it be wildly more expensive with no return on investiment....yes, has there been a issue where someone got hurt and a upgrade like this was needed...no. This just seems to overcomplicate a old ride that has worked fine for years. Honestly, a much simplified solution would be to install a indicator that shows latch position at dispatch then have a camera recording at each of the 3 stations which could see latch position as well as person locking the cabin.
 
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True, I forgot about the CT lights. The RFID system would probably be based on a system like this, a system that my company has used a fair amount of and probably the most popular manufacturer's for amusement ride control equipment. pepperl-fuchs RFID Product Line They have systems that can read/write up to 13' away! Keep in mind that prices listed on the website are usually not the final price that someone like us pays, since they do have various discounts. That said, the prices don't look too awful, especially that the reader systems would probably be around 3-5k per station and the rest of the cost would be for the tags and the software labor to implement this in the current system.
The lights for CT run off a battery installed under a seat in the cabin just for the event. Each night each battery has to be plugged in to be charged, a time consuming process im sure.
 

ControlsEE

I probably should be working...
Oct 2, 2018
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This seems like many other things...would this system be nice...yes, would it be wildly more expensive with no return on investiment....yes, has there been a issue where someone got hurt and a upgrade like this was needed...no. This just seems to overcomplicate a old ride that has worked fine for years. Honestly, a much simplified solution would be to install a indicator that shows latch position at dispatch then have a camera recording at each of the 3 stations which could see latch position as well as person locking the cabin.
Very true. Engineers like me tend to overcomplicate things! A very simple solution would be an indicator light on the cabin that turns red/green when the cabin is double locked or not. This would require some batteries though and (probably not as frequent as CT) charging
 

Jonesta6

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Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think there's an ops booth at the stations for this ride? So to implement your solution it'd become an extra expense for a staff member to watch?

My thought was this would reduce by a staff member while not creating a new for a new position.

Either way, safety first though.

Edit: beat me to it. Could a more permanent bus bar charging system be considered?
 
Nov 24, 2009
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Very true. Engineers like me tend to overcomplicate things! A very simple solution would be an indicator light on the cabin that turns red/green when the cabin is double locked or not. This would require some batteries though and (probably not as frequent as CT) charging
It dosent even need to be a light, a simple red green indicator like they have on portable toilet doors would work.
 
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ControlsEE

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Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think there's an ops booth at the stations for this ride? So to implement your solution it'd become an extra expense for a staff member to watch?

My thought was this would reduce by a staff member while not creating a new for a new position.

Either way, safety first though.
There is a panel with HMI at each station, but this system would not require a team member watching. What was your thinking for an extra team member?
 
Nov 24, 2009
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Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think there's an ops booth at the stations for this ride? So to implement your solution it'd become an extra expense for a staff member to watch?

My thought was this would reduce by a staff member while not creating a new for a new position.

Either way, safety first though.

Edit: beat me to it. Could a more permanent bus bar charging system be considered?
You wouldnt need someone to sit and babysit the camera, if that was the case they could just sit and watch the ride person locking the door. If the cabin ever came into the next station not locked then review the footage.
 
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Jonesta6

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You wouldnt need someone to sit and babysit the camera, if that was the case they could just sit and watch the ride person locking the door. If the cabin ever came into the next station not locked then review the footage.

That makes more sense - I was thinking it'd be like the restraint monitors and dispatch control like most coasters seem to use.
 
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I mean if they really wanted to get fancy theu could use a reflectove material on the indicator with a "eye" sensor mounted in the station that when it was rolled into the dispatch location it wouldnt release until fixed.
 

ControlsEE

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I mean if they really wanted to get fancy theu could use a reflectove material on the indicator with a "eye" sensor mounted in the station that when it was rolled into the dispatch location it wouldnt release until fixed.
The issue with that is getting it to line up correctly. Still, the main point is to create electronic logs instead of paper logs. Any ideas on how we could do that?
 

ControlsEE

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Has this been an issue before?
Some of these issues have happened before. They are really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I had an idea last week and figured I would share it here.
 

Zimmy

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Oh, do not get me wrong, I love the technical conversation. I was genuinly curious if this was an issue the park needed to address.
 
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