28610 dated 15.09.2016
Herausgegeben von
Enrico Fabbri
Enrico Fabbri
Germany has introduced a new inspection procedure for rides built before 2007, so as to guarantee equivalent safety to those manufactured in accordance with EN-13814.
by Enrico Fabbri
For some time now rumours have been circulating that the German government wants rides built before 2007 (that is, those not manufactured based on the minimum requirements of EN-13814) to be updated to meet the recent safety standards in order to be used. This has been in planning for almost 2 years now, with the complete collaboration of manufacturers and inspection bodies. So exactly what does it involve? What is the technical basis, and what has been achieved so far?

It was 25 years ago when I visited the TÜV offices in Munich for the first time. Back then, just like now, there was a rectangular grey table, black coffee in a large cup, 2 whiteboards with coloured markers and lots of competence and attention to details. Heading that rides department were 2 important figures in the amusement park attractions business, Herr Ernst Donislreiter and Herr Stefan Kasper.

TÜV SÜD has constantly extended its scope, becoming an important point of reference in many countries, for example Switzerland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Israel, Dubai and Hong Kong. In Germany, every attraction made over the last 50 years has been checked by this organisation, whose files contain copies of all the technical documentation, such as calculations, drawings and inspections. Clearly then, what happens in Germany will, in one way or another, affect the entire European and worldwide market.

German authorities have now requested that all amusement rides are updated to meet the requirements of EN-13814, irrespective of their date of construction. This request by the government is legitimate and logical, yet in practice, how is it possible to upgrade an old ride to meet the requirements of new laws? The answer is simple: the reference point is to identify safety that is “equivalent” to the new laws.

The first step is to analyse the ride and determine the critical points where action is needed (risk analysis). The car that holds the riders, for example, must feature the individual safety requirements specified by EN-13814. Where necessary, secondary safety mechanisms, limit switches or sensors to monitor movements can be added.

The second step is to check any critical points on the structure or the components that may affect safety. For example, on a ride that is lifted upwards by a hydraulic cylinder, the question needs to be asked: what would happen if that cylinder broke? If such an event compromises people’s safety, then other safety features need to be added. At times such modifications may be costly, but they are essential.

Finally, the lifespan of all the ride’s components is analysed, with special attention to components that ensure people’s safety. If the ride was manufactured 30 years ago, it is clear that it will withstand less fatigue than a new generation ride made to meet the new standards. Consequently, the older a ride, the more frequently special maintenance needs to be performed in order to be considered equivalent to a recently manufactured ride.

German operators have joined forces to share the costs of updating the same rides. This is a major operation and perhaps would be hard to replicate in other countries. The results so far are very positive; it seems in fact that most of the rides operating in Germany can be modified for a reasonable cost.

The technical working group has also defined a new additional ride inspection procedure. In addition to the annual inspections, a special inspection will need to be performed every 6 years, aimed at assessing the ride’s status (wear) and determine whether it can be operated for the next 6 years without special service operations. Clearly then, rides that are over 20/25 years old will need to undergo more frequent special maintenance, depending on the manufacturer’s original design and its use over the years. This technical analysis is based both on the experience of the inspectors and on calculations of the working cycles of the most important components. Consequently they are extremely complex calculations that require acute observation skills in the field and the experience of inspectors who have been working in the sector for many years.

It is therefore worth asking how this minor revolution underway in Germany will affect the inspection procedures applied in other countries, above all in the United Kingdom, a country that, together with Germany, has extensive experience in this area.

Written by Mr. Enrico Fabbri enrico@fabbrirides.com
Article originally published in Games Industry (Italy) magazine
Original date: September 2016

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