Articles & Case Studies


Posted: Monday 9th April 2012

For maintenance staff at the Alton Towers Resort, (the UK’s largest theme park resort with two fantastically themed hotels, a tropical waterpark and luxurious spa) one feature above all others is paramount in their selection of equipment, whether it is for rides, or for the control of the climate in the on-site luxury hotels – reliability! This is why Technical Services Manager Warren Critchley is standardising on AC drives from Control Techniques for all drive replacements.

Mr Critchley was facing some issues on product support for existing drives in the air handling plant for the Splash Landings Hotel and the Alton Towers Waterpark. “It is crucial to keep both the temperature and humidity of the waterpark constant at 29-30˚C and around 70% RH to make the environment comfortable for children and adults alike and to prevent excessive condensation,” he says, “so the close control of the air handling plant is essential. When we had some technical problems with the fan drives on the air handling plant, we were unable to get the kind of support we needed from several drives suppliers – and, as a breakdown potentially directly impacts on the comfort and convenience of hotel visitors, this was totally unacceptable. Since switching to Control Techniques drives we’ve experienced no failures and feel secure that by working with their distributor Lockwell we have access to 24 hour service and support, 7 days a week if any issues should arise. All our key electrical staff have been trained in the use of Control Techniques drives and they are now our standard product. As drives reach the end of their life, we replace them with either Commander SK general purpose drives or Affinity HVAC drives.”

Around 20% of the drives at the Splash Landings Hotel and the Alton Towers Hotel which control the fans in the air handling plant and the pumps for the hot water supply have now been replaced in the rolling replacement programme.

The air handling plant has had nine of its twelve fan drives replaced with 22 kW Control Techniques Commander SK drives, each with additional I/O modules fitted for input from sensors around the complex. “We supply Alton Towers with complete kits,” explains Rob Scott, Business Development Manager of Lockwell’s Stafford branch. “They come complete with mounting plate, NEMA termination box, drive and I/O module and a LogicStick for ease of programming.”

The drives receive speed control signals (4-20 mA) via TREND Equipment from the building management system. Each drive controls a fan with a capacity of 10 cu.m/ second.

The Commander SK range of general purpose drives - 0.25 to 132 kW - has been designed as a simple, compact, cost-effective AC motor speed controller that delivers performance with simplicity and ease of use. With all the parameters needed for 90% of applications listed on the front of the drive, Commander SK ensures installation and commissioning are straight forward.

For more demanding applications, Commander SK can deliver advanced functionality at no added cost to the base drive itself with a range of plug-in modules to give added I/O capacity, PLC functionality, feedback versatility and connectivity with all main industry networks.

For both hotels at the Alton Towers Resort, the domestic hot water for guests is controlled by a series of pumps, arranged in two series of three – within each, pumps being designated as duty, assist and standby, with these assignations being rotated (as part of the controlling software, written by Control Techniques specifically for this application) to ensure even wear and tear. So far, one set of three drives has been replaced, this time with Control Techniques 15 kW Affinity HVAC drives, each fitted with an I/O module and communications module to facilitate communication between the drives. The duty drive runs all the time, the assist comes in as required and, at moments of peak demand, the standby can be brought into service if needed. Flow provided by the pumps ranges from two to four litres/ second with the pressure being maintained at three bar and signals from pressure switches in the water feed are fed back to each drive.

Affinity drives require no scheduled maintenance, have a comprehensive 5-year warranty option and will give years of reliable service, whilst ensuring the comfort and well-being of the building occupants.

In the event of a power loss, control logic isn’t lost, so the system can be up and running again very quickly and the Affinity SmartCard allows for control programs to be stored and copied to multiple drives in the event reprogramming is required. Diagnostics and trouble-shooting are easy and the drive keypad even has a button for on-line help.

7.5 kW Commander SK drives are also used to pump water into the park and many small units are fitted into guest rooms as part of the air conditioning system.

The Alton Towers Resort, which can host between twenty and thirty thousand visitors at any one time, is dedicated to saving energy and minimising water use throughout the complex.

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