Appreciating Motion Control Technology

Such strength! Such agility! Such grace! Such refinement!

We’re not talking about the dancers. The Bolshoi Theatre, a World Heritage site first opened in 1825, needed an update for its stage technology.

Over a period of six years, Rexroth renovated all the drive and control systems for the upper stage and lower stage machinery of the 520 square meter stage, from the flats to the glockenspiel. This feat required 600 electrical and hydraulic drives.

There were some special requirements for this undertaking, including a very high level of precision, no noise to distract the dancers or the audience, and unusual safety needs.

The machinery had to be able to function even while many people were on the stage, and the people could not be expected to pay attention to the machinery at the time, nor to wear any safety gear. These people included stagehands, performers, and the audience.

Hundreds of hoist points were used. Those for the upper theater had to be able to lift loads of up to one ton at speeds of 1.8 meters per second, with no sound penetrating to the audience. A scenery database allows complex scene changes without fear of collisions. A very elaborate sensor system with state of the art fire safety components keeps safety first.

It’s impressive that servo motors, a technology roughly the same age as the Bolshoi, continue to be the best possible solution for motion control.

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