MICROMATION SYSTEMS

 

Front of Funicular
Funicular in the Station
Funicular Console

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Computer Based Funicular Control & Monitoring System

The original Funicular at the Cape Point Natue Reserve, being a relay based control system, had reachthe end of its useful llife, and was becoming increasing difficuly to maintain.

Micromation was approached to redesign the Funicular carriages to give the Funicular a modern, open and airey look, as well as totally redesign the internal control and monitoring system.

The design of the modern carriages was given to a well known industrial designer, who specialsed in sports car and other vehicle designs.

Micromation redesigned the control and monitoring system, using  as a key component its Emergency Vehicle Auxiliary Power Programable Logic Controller system (APPLC).

This gave Micromation the ability to change the design parameters via software, which considerably enhanced the on-site commisioning process.   Two different programs were developed - the one was used only for testing and commissioning, the other was the final Control and Monitoring program which was used for normal daily use.    The system included a special function to monitor all inputs and outputs, and keep these logged on a data base for future analysis.

Micromation used special Open Circuit/Short Circuit detectors on all vital inputs to the APPLC, so that any fault caused by defective wiring could be immediately detected, and would then stop the Funicular from operating.

As the Cape Point is well known for its gale force winds which would stress the carriages if they were permitted to run during periods of high winds, Micromation fitted an anemometer on the top station to accurately measure wind strength, and prevent the funicular operating during high winds.   

The Funicular power system design was very challenging, as the funicular was only permitted to have a on board batteries as a power source.    These batteries then had to be quickly re-charged each and every time the Funiclar entered a station, via a dual brush system.   However, when in the station overnight, the power system had to prevcent any overcharging of the batteries.

Being located in a game reserve, other options such as on-board motor generators were not permitted.

The only other source of power was the sun, consequently the power system included two rugged solar panels per carriage, which provided an axuliary source of power.    The reason for using very rugged solar panels was that, being a game reserve, the area has a baboon troop, which previously had been very destructive, and would no doubt have broken the converntion crystaline panels.

The funicular required power to operate all the electronics, the sliding door controls, all the safety interlocks, the communications, the internal lighting, the external lighting, as well as the carriage exhaust fans.

The voice communcation system consisted of IDAS digital radios, which gave excellent coverage of the area.