New Seating Hoist System Reduces Manual Handling

New Seating Hoist System Reduces Manual Handling

New seating system combines innovation and flexibility for a world-class convention centre

The Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) opened its doors as Australia’s first purpose-built convention centre in 1987, setting a benchmark for conference facilities and services. 

The venue’s main Plenary Hall’s unique combination of hinged seating, operable walls and rotating seating drums enable it to be arranged into more than 15 different configurations to create an ideal fit for any event. The hinged seating utilises six of the world’s largest seating drum hoists featuring industry-leading technologies, designed built and installed by HME Services.

Designing an Innovative and Flexible Seating System

HME Services conducted a risk assessment to consider the safety requirements involved with the multifunction use of the venue - so it could be utilised as either an open space or tiered seating venue as required.

 “The seating system design was based on the seats being lifted, housed and locked into the roofing infrastructure when not required. The seating bays are mechanically hinged and are connected to the hoists via quick connect lifting pins. These quick connect lifting pins can be detached from the seating bays and then raised out of site,” said John Geddes, control systems officer, HME Services.

“The risk assessment helped us to identify the hardware that was required to provide a safe environment, which was based on the Allen-Bradley Compact GuardLogix series of PLCs from Rockwell Automation, with integrated safety,” he explained.

The Compact GuardLogix controllers include integrated safety and motion via Ethernet in a single controller. Studio 5000 was used to program the controllers, combining engineering and design elements into one standard framework that enables optimised productivity and reducing engineering time. The same software was used to program safety and motion aspects of the system. PowerFlex 755 drives were used to power the hoists, with safety over Ethernet.

“The control system comprises a Main Control Cabinet and a Hoist Control Cabinet at each hoist. Utilizing POINT I/O modules and Stratix switches, we were able to integrate control and safety field cabling into a single Ethernet cable run.”

Simple Control and Safety

As the seating segments are arranged in a curve along the back wall, they overlap themselves as they are moved up or down. To address this challenge, the control system was programmed to automatically stagger and monitor the movements of the hoists, avoiding any mechanical collisions. This occurs all while the operator is holding a safety enable pushbutton and activating a programmed pushbutton.

The system uses FactoryTalk software via PanelView Plus screens on the Main Control Cabinet and touchscreen pendants. Extensive diagnostics and commissioning control are accessed via the Main Control Cabinet 10” PanelView Plus touchscreen.

The control system manages all six hoists of the seating system. Together with a multi reeve pulley system, the total lifting capacity is 240 tonnes. Each hoist has two steel wire rope drums and two zero fleet steel wire rope tracking pulleys. These tracking pullies move up and down with the drum whilst the rope is being applied or removed. Each drum and tracking pully have a position feedback device installed which is monitored by the PLC. Any discrepancies are registered the hoist and system will stop automatically to avoid any safety incidents.

“Safety was a key priority for the seating system and by integrating heavily interlocked feedback devices, a high level of safety was achieved,” said Geddes.

The Plenary’s unique combination of hinged seating, operable walls and rotating seating drums enable it to be arranged into more than 15 different configurations to create an ideal fit for any event.

Fast Changeover and Reduced Manual Handling

The new automated seating system has successfully reduced the requirement for manual handling and also provides the capability for faster changeover times. It is now possible to safely lift or lower the seating in less than 20 minutes – a significant time saver for the Centre.

“We worked with HME to find engineering solutions that would minimize or eliminate the risk associated with hoisting seating panels. It was imperative to have a system that staff could use safely without having to have specialist rigging qualifications. The solution they have delivered is simple to operate and has multiple fail safe systems built in. It has proven to be reliable and quick to configure which is very important to our business” – Mike Smith, general manager – Property and Buildings, Adelaide Venue Management.

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