Active Roof Technology at Echo Arena Liverpool

by PLSN Staff • in
  • International News
• Created: April 15, 2009

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LIVERPOOL, U.K. — The need for speed may seem to be forever at odds with rigging and staging safety, but Echo Arena Liverpool is using a solution that keeps time and risk to a minimum. While one rigging grid system is installed over the usual stage area, a second grid can be deployed anywhere in the venue. This is made possible with the venue’s use of an Active Roof Technology (ART of Rigging) system. The system fits every roof node with active load-cells, pre-wired with hoist power, control and a data network.

David Bond of Star Events Group Ltd, which installed and operates the system, said it effectively increase speed and safety while decreasing the time crew members are “working at height.”

The control and hoist system at the heart of the Active Roof Technology installation comes from Lift Turn Move (LTM), a specialist entertainment rigging hardware supplier based in the Liverpool area.

“This is one of the largest house system installations LTM has worked on,” said John Jones at LTM. “The input and knowledge sharing we’ve received from Star Events has proved invaluable. The main grid is supported on twelve 3-ton LoadGuard chain hoists, the re-locatable grid from eight more.

Bond noted that these hoists “bring real advantages to the operation of the complete system. They conform to BS7906: Part1, Category A specification,” and as such, “they exceed the requirement for secondary attachment.

“We ‘dead off’ the grid once it is raised to trim, but the added reassurance of the double brake, 4-position limit switches, and drive-train independent clutch design of the LoadGuard hoists makes the whole operation of the grid firmly focussed on simplicity and safety,” Bond added.

LTM has been supplying these specific LoadGuard hoists for more than three years.

“We’ve been putting them into theatres, multipurpose venues and schools,” said LTM’s Jones. “Most venue operators prefer not to fit secondaries if they have the choice; the features of the hoist specification means a truss can be flown, simply unplugged, and left in position  — without the need to rig safeties at height.”

The two grids are based on a new steel truss (model FGT7) that is lighter than an aluminium grid of equivalent strength, designed specifically for this application by Star Events, and are fitted with personnel catch-nets between all node points for added safety.

An IBEX system linked to the Active Roof Technology installation controls the hoist set. Also supplied by LTM, the IBEX system is programmed to self level the grid every three meters as it rises from stage level to trim as a precautionary way to ensure no single point becomes overloaded and to prevent the total grid structure from becoming adversely stressed.

“In consultation with Star Events we determined to install the control center up on a platform within the catwalk network of the arena roof structure,” said LTM’s Jones. “This gives the duty lead rigger several clear advantages,” including a good top-down view on the grid as it ascends.

The control platform also positions the operator at the same level as all electronic parts of the grid control system, with mains and data run along the venue’s roof beams.

Because they are physically isolated from the feverish activity that is a typical rigging load-in below, the operator is less likely to be distracted from visually monitoring the IBEX system by events on the arena floor.

The IBEX system monitors load data from the Active Roof Technology system, receiving data from both hoists and secondaries once the grid is at trim and the secondaries are attached, essential in this day and age where complex shows often feature large moving elements such as LED screens, creating hefty dynamic loads across the grid.  

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