March 21, 2019
Murrelektronik Components in Theatre Automation
Bringing the Magic of Theatre to Life
The world of theatre is a magical place where storytelling comes to life. Through special effects characters, scenes and props we are transported into an imaginary world. Absolute Motion Control are experts in the field of theatre automation. Here, Rob Raskovsky explains more about the challenges of their industry and how Murrelektronik cabinet components provide the perfect solutions.
Unlike on screen, special effects in the theatre world need to be executed to perfection, in the moment, night after night, and possibly for years on end. Behind the scenes, engineers and automation specialists are perfecting ways to make the spectacle happen. No one knows this more than Rob Raskovsky and his team at Absolute Motion Control. Based in central London, they have combined experience of over 30 years and build bespoke automation for the most high-profile shows in the West End and on tour.
Absolute Motion Control has built up two general business models for their customers: the first is providing standard equipment that can be rented within the entertainment industry. Theatre companies hire the equipment from Absolute, which includes 4-axis, single-axis and control surface cabinets. The cabinets will stand the test of time, can be flexible to handle a wide variety of theatre effects and are efficient.
Another solution Absolute offer is their customized solutions. These systems are based exactly on the customer’s needs and often must come together within a quick time frame and meet strict specific technical requirements all while remaining within budget. Finding the perfect mix for the solution is another reason why Absolute stands out in the industry.
Automation solutions required by the theatre industry differ from the typical industrial machine and production plant applications that Murrelektronik is most renowned for. Firstly, their moveable 4-axis motion control cabinet for servo motors is used in a variety of ways. It can be connected to winches to make certain stage elements track in and out, for example, when scenery move horizontally on and off stage. Another example is bringing stage elements up and out of the floor. To do this, certain components are connected to the servo motors and pushed up to lift new scenery onto the main stage. In certain cases, props will need to be brought to life. By connecting the prop to one of the Absolute Motion’s automation solutions, a coffin can be moved on or off stage, or plates can spin, or venetian blinds can automatically be moved up and down.
Finding the Right Mix for the Perfect Solution
Rob and his team are faced with many challenges when it comes to creating the theatrical special effects that West End productions are known for. At the concept stage, the Absolute Motion team think that the Murrelektronik online shop is a valuable resource. With access to instant pricing and most importantly, downloads of all the documentation, they are able to implement components easily into designs straightaway. The online shop is packed with user friendly functions, for example, easy searches and narrowing down selections via filters. It couldn’t be simpler.
Producing standard theatre automation equipment suitable for rental means that the components need to stand the test of time, be flexible, easily integrated and highly efficient. That is why Absolute Motion Control decided to use Murrelektronik Emparro power supplies in it’s standard cabinets. With a 95 percent efficiency rating, Emparro is among the most efficient on the market. Their low heat generation protects other cabinet components and ensures that the application lifetime is greatly extended. And with predictive maintenance integrated into the devices, Absolute and their customers can continually monitor parameters like temperature, load or number or starts.
Absolute also rely on Murrelektronik’s innovative current monitoring system - Mico Pro. Because it uses less footprint in the cabinet, Absolute can keep their cabinets to a manageable size. Another benefit is that Mico Pro easily daisy chains and links modules together. It’s ideal for the current control of low voltage parts. Controlling Mico Pro from the PLC enables Absolute to adapt the cabinets so that anyone with low-automation knowledge can access the information. Mico Pro also makes it possible to monitor all channels and provides precise, channel-specific diagnostics. These theatrical elements often have to link up to other mechanical elements so precise control is needed. This allows Absolute to make diagnostic information understandable for non-engineers, for example if is a problem with power distribution in the cabinet. This quick reaction time allows Absolute, as a provider, to supply a streamlined user interface.
Murrelektronik components play a large role in helping Rob and his team create their customized automation solutions. M12 cable solutions ensure a low failure rate since the cables are pre-wired and 100 percent tested before leaving the Murrelektronik factory. This gives Absolute’s customers an extra level of safety. Another advantage, is that many Murrelektronik cable and connectors can be produced within 48 hours and immediately shipped out. So Absolute receive products exactly when needed, can react to short delivery times and high order reliability.
Rob says of Murrelektronik, “Everything we have ever purchased had been above standard and provides more than enough features – from the power supplies with low heat generation to the efficient Mico Pro module and especially the cables and connectors that we rely on continually. With Murrelektronik we solve our biggest challenge in adapting solutions to multiple uses. And Murrelektronik components ensure our solutions are future proofed.”
When asked what his favorite aspect of the job is, Rob had this to say, “That’s easy: the variety and the custom solutions. Trying to find a solution to a problem that fits into technical, financial, and time constraints is extremely interesting. We’re passionate about finding the right mix for the exact solution.” And if he has a favorite show? “I can’t say, but I have enjoyed working on shows like Waitress and Come from Away.”
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