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Standards safeguard amusement facilities against danger
China Standardization 2021-12-03

A standards system of large amusement facilities made China the largest market and manufacturing base of amusement facilities in the world. It strongly supported China’s endeavor in joining world-leading manufacturers and leading the development of international amusement facility industry.

Guided by the standards system, amusement facility makers at home harvested exponential growth in annual output value, from less than RMB 200 million in the beginning of 21st century to the current RMB 6 billion and more; amusement parks witnessed 100 times of growth in annual income, from RMB 1 billion to RMB 100 billion. An important indicator for security in large amusement facility use, casualty rate/10,000 sets, has dropped to 1.92 during the 13th Five-year Plan period from 5.24 in the 11th Five-year Plan period.

The standards system rose in response to the urgent needs in China’s amusement industry in its starting phase back in the 1980s, when casualties and major facility accidents due to poor quality hit the headlines quite often. In order to normalize and align the design, manufacturing, installation, application, test, and maintenance, the first technical standard on amusement facility safety, GB 8408–1987, Safety of amusement machines and amusement park equipment, came into force in 1987, laying down fundamental rules on technical specifications of amusement equipment.

In the following 10 years, the amusement industry in China experienced rapid growth with surging large facilities; however, people’s concern over the safety of such equipment increased as well, due to accidents caused by design defects and inferior security measures.

Since 2000, the government has included amusement facilities in the special equipment list and put it under special supervision and control. China Special Equipment Inspection & Research Institute, together with over 10 organizations from different sectors along the industrial chain and over 100 researchers, carried out series of research programs aimed at tackling key technical challenges on safety of large facilities. They have improved the standard quality by research and, for the first time in the world, developed specific standards on risk evaluation, condition monitoring, fault diagnosis, and nondestructive testing of amusement park facilities. Since then, a complete standards system covering the full life cycle of large amusement facilities was established based on GB 8408.
Amusement facilities often involve complex technique and highly integrated system of mechanics-electronics-hydraulics. To cope with that, researchers conducted in-depth and systematic study on the failure mechanism and human factors in each and every link in the life cycle of products, screened out over 80 types of part and systematic hazards, and established a general identification principle on hazard source.

Researchers determined the value rules about loads on human body, mechanics, environment, as well as on shock and vibration, put forward a norm on simplified design about velocity and grading of welding joints, established a threshold curve of passenger speeds and drew a line of safe acceleration, and brought up a norm of designing safety restraint devices based on acceleration study. The outputs of researchers formed a system which enabled a quantitative measurement of passenger safety and general applicability in fast design of large amusement facilities in China.

In the design and manufacturing stage, 19 product standards have been developed, covering all existing sliding, spinning, lifting, aquatic, VR, and unpowered facilities. Then in the application and management stage, an innovative technical approach of dynamic health management and evaluation, instead of traditional static measures, has been brought up, transforming sole safety management into a technical route integrating multiple factors, and on this basis related standards on application, management, and maintenance have been developed accordingly.

Three series of standards for testing and testing methods have been developed, covering inspection and testing on large amusement facilities, nondestructive testing, and condition monitoring and fault diagnosis. Comparing with general standards, the nondestructive testing standards focus on detecting defaults and defects specific on amusement facilities with stricter specifications and more suitable testing process and evaluation criteria.

Based on motion features and structures of large amusement facilities, the standards system puts forward an infrared thermal imaging monitoring and fault classification method on mechanic and electrical system damage, a condition monitoring and faulty diagnosis method based on acoustic emission on low-speed bearings, a testing system on complex 3D motion velocity, acceleration, and stress, as well as a real-time monitoring system on multiple physical quantities from multi-channel sensors.

It is the first time for China to develop dummy test technologies and apply them on general safety evaluation of amusement facilities. The condition monitoring and faulty diagnosis standards system has led an intellectualized technical revolution in the operation and maintenance of large amusement facilities.

So far, China’s standards system on large amusement facilities, abreast with ASTM in the U.S. and EN/ISO in Europe, has become one of the most popular standards systems in the world, and offered more, compared with the other two, covering the entire life cycle of facilities, risk assessment, nondestructive testing, condition monitoring and fault diagnosis. With full coverage and high relevance, China’s standards system has filled international gaps, and it has been adopted by the Chinese laws and fully implemented by the industry, as well as by foreign manufacturers and theme parks such as Intamin, Disney, and Universal Studios.

Amusement facilities serve as close friends of children, playgrounds for thrill-seeking youngsters, and important places of happy and joy for families. With over 600 million visits per year, the facilities also showcase the cultural soft power of a nation. With the standards system safeguarding the safety of the facilities, people would enjoy a fun life with ease.

(Chinese version provided by SAC/TC 250 on ropeway and amusement facility; edited and translated by Liu Hongbo)

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