Fluke Spends a Day at the Park
The dinosaur lurking behind Ralph Gioielli looks dangerous, but the real challenges are water and long electrical runs. Ralph is using his Fluke 87V Industrial Multimeter to check the GFCI circuits.
Typically when Louis Fliger, Fluke’s senior photographer, visits customer sites to capture images of Fluke equipment at work, he encounters some monster-sized equipment. But Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom was the first place where he actually encountered prehistoric monsters…dinosaurs, to be exact.
Unlike manufacturing plants, the only product Dorney Park produces is fun. So beyond shooting the equipment and tools, Fliger wanted to capture the spirit of the amusement park experience. He visited the park just before it opened full time for the season, so Electrical Manager Ralph Gioielli was able to give him a complete tour of the attractions, pointing out various challenges from the electrical perspective.
And there were a few challenges.
Electricity for dinosaurs
For example, in Dorney Park’s new “Dinosaurs Alive!” area, the animatronic dinosaurs all have motion triggers that cause them to move or roar when people walk by them. That requires electrical power. So in building the exhibit, electricians needed to position electrical components, including transformers and GFI plug-ins, inconspicuously throughout the dinosaur habitat to preserve an authentic prehistoric look.
Because the dinosaurs inhabit a low-lying part of the park, the conduit and electrical cabinets had to be installed above ground to prevent damage from underground water. Despite the challenge, the result is a very convincing dinosaur habitat, where the electrical components are camouflaged but can be easily accessed for service.
Portability and parts
While most electricians require portable troubleshooting tools, portability is critical for Dorney Park electricians. They have to cover a lot of territory - from proximity switches at the top of 200-foot roller coasters to electrical cabinets at the base of those rides. To help illustrate the point, Fliger attached a digital video camera to one electrician’s hardhat and tracked him as he hiked up to the top of the Steel Force roller coaster and then back down to the electrical equipment room. Watching the results, you can see how important it is to travel light but still have rugged, versatile troubleshooting tools like the ScopeMeter® portable oscilloscope and the Fluke 87V Digital Multimeter.
Another challenge that Fliger noted was that, while most industrial plants have many pieces of equipment that share common parts, Dorney Park has rides from multiple companies in several countries. As a result, each ride has its own unique ecosystem of parts. “They’ve got all these different drives and sensors and each one is set up somewhat differently, so the Dorney Park technicians have to be really versatile, and they have to keep a lot of different parts in stock,” says Fliger. The good news is that the troubleshooting tools they use are versatile enough that they can use the same ones on virtually all the electrical and electronic components.
Redundant safety systems
As different as Dorney Park is from a typical industrial plant, it does share some aspects, such as the need for redundant safety systems. “I was really impressed by how much safety and redundancy is built into all of these systems, so that if one system fails there’s always some sort of a backup system that brings the public a safe stop,” says Fliger.
There is perhaps another slight similarity between Dorney Park and some industrial plants. Some industrial plants also may have a dinosaur or two. But while those dinosaurs eventually are replaced, the dinosaurs at Dorney Park are a welcome part of the family.