On the valves roller coaster

Every year, more than half a million visitors flock to Familypark, Austria’s largest amusement park. And pneumatics and compressed air provide just as much movement in the park’s numerous attractions. However, to ensure that nothing grinds to a halt and that safety is maintained at all times, the technicians at Familypark completed a two-day seminar held by Festo Training and Consulting – including of course some entertainment.

Drawing circles in the sky. From left to right. Up and down. Completely weightless. As free as a bird. What young and old often dream of can become reality in Burgenland, Austria. A breezy flight at 22 meters (72 feet) above the ground on “Leonardo’s Flying Machine” is just one of many attractions at Familypark in St. Margarethen that makes children’s eyes light up and is lots of fun for the whole family. And the technicians at the amusement park also had fun during an in-house training seminar held by Festo Training and Consulting directly on-site in St. Margarethen. For two days, everything revolved around the topics of pneumatics and electropneumatics – and only marginally on merry-go-rounds. And there are plenty of those at Familypark not far from Lake Neusiedl. Austria’s largest amusement park has around 60 smaller and larger attractions spread over an area of 145,000 square meters (approx. 36 acres).

Adventurous diversity

From the nostalgic steam locomotive tour through the woods and meadows, to the spectacular roller coaster ride, the park thrives on its diversity. There is good reason why, in addition to four underwater parks, there is a concert hall, restaurants, and climbing gardens that are open from mid-March to the end of October. The 633,000 visitors who experienced the Burgenland adventure world in 2016 are testimony to an increasing yearly trend. In 2018, the family business celebrates its 50th anniversary – all well equipped. Or rather, well trained.

A special pneumatic setting

Together with a specialist from Festo Training and Consulting, several park employees took a ride on the “valves roller coaster”. Two days without any dizziness or fear of heights. Long-time Festo Trainer Nobert Berneck made sure of that: “The seminar was especially exciting for me too. Pneumatics is used here in somewhat unusual settings, ranging from animated figures to large systems.”
Even the basic knowledge of the participants – a group of electricians, machine technicians and mechanics – was very different. This made it all the more important to adapt the content of the course to the needs of the park employees.

On the safe side

One topic in particular was the main focus of attention: correct maintenance. “For us, the safety of our guests always has top priority. This means that all the equipment is always optimally maintained, and that we have to respond immediately to any possible malfunctions”, says Michael Lichtenberger, Familypark Operations Manager. “Most of our attractions are equipped with pneumatic components, such as cylinders and valves, and applications range from roller coaster brakes to the security gates at the entrance. This is why we always want to be fully up-to-date with our training.” How do pneumatic circuits work? What’s the best way of preparing compressed air? What kind of hazards might occur with outdoor attractions? And how can we control things, to either increase or reduce speed? These are the central questions. “It was important for us to raise our employees' awareness as much as possible, for example of the issue of efficiency and the costs incurred when compressed air disappears into a void,” explains Lichtenberger.

Much practice, more attention

The contents of the seminar certainly didn't disappear into a void, as demonstrated by the participants’ attitude. “Even though our employees came from many different areas, the seminar was extremely instructive for everyone. This is thanks to the highly competent trainer from Festo,” says Erik Kovács, Technical Director of Familypark, who above all praised the large amount of hands-on experience: “The theoretical part is often forgotten after a while, but what you remember is what you actually see and try out for yourself." Junior manager, Dominik Müller, who is responsible for work and operational safety, sees things in the same way: “The topics were very well prepared. This is important, because the attractions and the safety of our guests are very dear to us.” And then he continues with a grin: “You know that from school. Most people fall asleep during theoretical lessons, but as soon as there’s something to be experienced everyone wakes up. The mix was perfect at our seminar – and nobody fell asleep.”

With individuality to new heights

Just as each park attraction is special, the course was matched to the participants’ individual needs. “The things we were interested in were brought to the team in an exciting way,” sums up operations manager Michael Lichtenberger on a positive note. “We defined what sort of knowledge we needed, and that’s exactly what we got from Festo – perfectly in line with our requirements.” And he is pleased to have taken another step forward with his employees in order to reduce the risk of downtime to a minimum and to further enhance operating safety.
So, nothing stands in the way of absolute family fun and soaring to new heights in the future. For example with Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machines, from which the following quote originates: “When you once experienced flying, you’ll tread the earth with your eyes raised to the sky for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

  1. This article has been published in our trends in qualification customer magazine 1.2017
  2. Photos: Familypark / Festo / Hollunder / Matula / Draper