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Encoders and drives help The Wiggles rise to the occasion

The ‘flying’ routines in the forthcoming Australian ‘Wiggles Greatest Hits Live in Concert’ stage-show have been made possible by the geared brake motors, encoders and variable speed drives (VSDs) supplied by drives solutions group, SEW-Eurodrive.

In conjunction with control software developed by theatrical automation specialists, Q-Motion and Automation, these drive solutions will enable the Wiggles to be hoisted and rotated as part of several spectacular scenes to be staged for live audiences from November onwards.

According to Q-Motion managing director, Gregory Gowans, the challenge was to design a system that would enable up to six actors to be hoisted individually, and also to be lifted and rotated as a group. "We devised an 8m-diameter carousel from a circular I-beam that can be hoisted, lowered and rotated," he said.

"This permits all the actors to be lifted and rotated in perfect unison. Additionally, six ‘performer winches’ on the carousel further allow individual performers to be separately hoisted and lowered."


SEW-Eurodrive’s drives solutions group supplied the (L-R) HiperFace Encoder, MoviDrive ‘B’ and helical-bevel gear motor to "lift" the Wiggles in their Greatest Hits Live in Concert show.

High efficiency helical-bevel geared brake motors from SEW-Eurodrive are used for all hoisting and rotating applications. Three geared brake motors, rated at 2.7 kNm and 11 kW, enable the carousel to be raised and lowered.

A further three geared brake motors, rated at 0.2 kNm and 1.1 kW, provide the friction drive to rotate the carousel, and six geared brake motors, rated at 1.55 kNm and 4 kW, provide the hoist drives for the performer winches.

These are controlled through SEW-Eurodrive’s MoviDrive ‘B’ frequency inverters, and operated via Q-Motions proprietary MEXB-Q theatrical automation system.

Each geared brakemotor is provided with SEW-Eurodrive HIPERFACE encoders. "Unlike incremental encoders, HIPERFACE provides absolute positioning information," SEW-Eurodrive New South Wales sales manager, Martin Broglia, explained.

"In the event of a momentary loss of power, this ensures that positioning information is not lost.
"By comparison, an incremental encoder would require reference routing to be able to calculate the position of each element of the system."

The successful alliance of Q-Motion control technology and drive solutions from SEW-Eurodrive is expected to contribute to a memorable show. "You know you’ve done the job well when the action on stage is smooth and seamless," said Gowans.

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