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Theater and event locations

CAN on and behind the stage

Since many years, Zub Machine Control, a daughter company of Maxon, has supplied theater and stage control systems. In many cases, CANopen-connectable drives are integrated.

Because ballerinas do not wear hard hats, all moving equipment needs to be functional safe (Photo: Zub Machine Control)

The company located in Switzerland offers for machine hoists adjustable speeds with a wide control range, precise positioning, and carry heavy loads. The products are used on and behind the stage. In those applications, a Safety Integrity Level (SIL) of 3 is often required. “For years we have been realizing the widest possible range of control tasks in theater and stage technology with our products,” explained the Swiss supplier. Safety requirements for theater applications are very strict, and it is often the case that all drives must meet the SIL-3 standard. With this in mind, the Swiss company has developed and had certified a Safety Drive concept along with the accompanying software.

Stage and lighting controllers require each individual axis to be monitored and for it to be possible to deactivate each axis immediately at any time. That also applies to entire large groups of axes. This involves both, monitoring speeds alone as well as monitoring them according to positions and on CAM and rail curves. The safety applications are configured via a safe PLC. The safety level is attained through double monitoring and the use of different systems. On one side Danfoss frequency converters with MCO connected via Profinet, and on the other side a MACS5 that monitors up to three FCs linked via a CAN network. If a function fails or malfunctions, the MACS5 can immediately apply the brakes and open the safety contactor.

Typical application in theaters: Drives moves the chain hoists (Photo: Zub Controls)

The City Theater of Hagen (Germany), for example, comprises 32 via CAN connected multi-axis controllers. They are used for backdrop control. Other realized projects include the Trifolion theater in Echternach (Luxemburg). The control system consists of 96 platforms and 32 chain hoists. In the Badisches Stadtheater in Karlsruhe (Gemany), the company has installed 15 hoists for the upper stage machinery and spotlight controls system with adjustable power supply.

In theaters the stages can be shifted segmental. When low performance and accuracy are required, then the drives were positioned in start/stop operation. When high accuracy is required, then the positioning is done in a closed-loop with freely-programmable ramps for acceleration and deceleration without jerk.


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