Funfields has been in operation in Whittlesea for almost four decades. Image: Funfields
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With its mild weather and love of water, Australia is home to an abundance of water and theme parks boasting towering water slides and expansive wave pools. However, when being buffeted by waves or catapulted down a waterslide, it’s unlikely that thoughts turn to the equipment behind the scenes keeping things running.

Water and theme parks are complex operations and require an intricate network of systems and equipment to keep things running smoothly. When water rides are involved, pumps account for a sizeable chunk of this equipment – from pumps as small as the chemical dosing units maintaining water quality to the giant pumps that carry water to the top of a water slide and send it cascading down.

These pumps, along with a range of other equipment and, most importantly, the team who maintain and service them, are the powerhouse keeping the everyday operations of water and theme parks running smoothly.

Funfields is no exception.

Funfields’ Supanova attraction overlooks the heated wave pool.

Funfields’ Supanova attraction overlooks the heated wave pool.

Located in Whittlesea, Victoria, Funfields has been in operation for almost four decades. Among its offerings, the 15.7ha theme park offers a collection of rides, water slides and a heated wave pool.

Keeping a theme park operating is a formidable task. Funfields’ Managing Director, Angelo Dinardo, said that the many pumps in use across the theme park serve a range of purposes.

“As a theme park with aquatic attractions and waterslides, our predominant uses involve maintaining water quality and operation of the slides.”

Pumps of all sizes

The park’s latest offering is the $8 million dollar 27m-high, 250m-long hybrid waterslide Supanova, which Mr Dinardo said uses two of the park’s newest and largest 75kW pumps, which are operated alongside 37kW and 11kW pumps to keep the waterslide running smoothly.

“Along with our pumps, we have VSDs to accompany them, ensuring they are working efficiently and consistently at our desired flow rates of up to 6000L/min.”

Not all the waterslides at the park have the same size and flow requirements and Mr Dinardo said that to operate the theme park’s waterslides, the team typically runs between two and four pumps that range from 35-75kW.

“The pumps on the larger end of the spectrum range between 45-75kW and will most commonly be responsible for feeding the starter trough and therefore the main flow of the slide.

“On our latest slide – the Supanova – there are two 75kW pumps that each supply a flow rate of about 6000L/min at our VSD setting. These 75kW pumps are also rated to a maximum pressure of 1600kPA.”

Mr Dinardo said that slightly smaller pumps will then be used as ‘flume injector’ pumps, but these can still be as large as 37kW.

“These are typically required to create some amount of turbulence in the flow of water which acts as a braking mechanism to slow rafts down. These might be seen at the end of features, such as the ‘tornado’ section of our Supanova slide, or at the end of the slide to slow rafts before they exit the ride.

“In the case of our Supanova, our injector pump supplies a flow rate of about 5500L/min,” Mr Dinardo said.

“Even smaller again will be ‘sprinkler’ pumps, ranging from about 4-11kW, which aim to supply a small amount of water to ensure features remain wet and will be found in areas such as the ‘bowl’ of our Typhoon, the ‘wave’ of our Gravity Wave and the ‘tornado’ of our Supanova.

“Again using Supanova as an example, the sprinkler flow rate is about 400L/min as far less water is required to maintain the ideal condition.

“To maintain water quality, we use small ProMinent dosing pumps from 0.13kW with a flow rate of 65L/hour to 15kw pumps working in conjunction to power the filtration of more than one million litres of water.”

Making waves

In addition to its attractions, Funfields has a 1.5 million litre wave pool, which requires its own special equipment and systems to maintain effective function.

“Our wave pool is supplied by three heat pumps each with a maximum power input of 42.5kW and a heating capacity of 190kW,” Mr Dinardo said.

The pumps behind the Gravity Wave and Supanova slide attractions.

The pumps behind the Gravity Wave and Supanova slide attractions.

“Interestingly, the waves are created by two large blowers, powered by 74A motors. These wave generators are supplied by ADG and create several different wave formations in conjunction with four air directional valves.”

While it was designed and constructed to resemble a beach, the Funfields wave pool lacks the sand that can be found at some other wave pools. The theme park cites advice from other theme parks as the reason behind this decision. Through discussion with other theme parks that included wave pools with sand, Mr Dinardo said the team learned that sand disrupts the efficiencies of the filters, causing significant problems and extensive unnecessary maintenance and wear and tear.

“Being a relatively niche industry, it is important that we develop strong networks with one another. We have all experienced different things and therefore have something to offer each other in terms of wisdom or solutions to unique problems.

“When we were in the process of constructing our wave pool, the engineer informed us that sand sometimes causes damage to the pumps and wave generators. This made it a relatively simple decision to exclude sand from our beach.”

Buying local

The VSDs in operation for the Gravity Wave attraction.

The VSDs in operation for the Gravity Wave attraction.

Mr Dinardo said that even with such a wide variety of pumps in use across the expanse of the park, most of the slide pumps come from Australian brands Davey or Southern Cross.

“Most of our smaller pumps used to run sand filters in our pools are from Waterco, another Australian company. “Our dosing pumps for water quality are all sourced from ProMinent, a company based in Germany.

“The wave generators that power our wave pool are sourced by the Aquatic Development Group (ADG) in the US and the pool’s heat pumps are from EvoHeat, an Australian company.”

Safety as a top priority

Mr Dinardo said that other than the initial commissioning of the pumps in use across the park, the only testing that is carried out are the routine inspections that form part of the Funfields team’s maintenance schedules.

“In accordance with manufacturer guidelines and engineer recommendations, our maintenance team undertakes regular preventative maintenance checks. These include daily, weekly, monthly and annual inspections.

“The aim here is to stay on top of our operational equipment and ensure that everything we have is safe and ready to go when we require. Safety is paramount in the theme park industry, so it is essential that we remain diligent and confident that the condition of our equipment is up to the highest standard.”

Additionally, Mr Dinardo said that a key driver behind the regular checks is to ensure that no guest misses out on attractions due to downtime or faults.

“Regular maintenance inspections allows our equipment to be functional when our guests need it to be, ensuring nobody misses out on the attractions they came for.”

The chlorine dosing pumps ensuring water quality in the wave pool.

The chlorine dosing pumps ensuring water quality in the wave pool.

As well as maximising the guest experience, regular monitoring and maintenance can also prevent equipment and system complications or faults.

“In the past we have had some complications with smaller pumps due simply to burning out. This has typically happened as a result of systems losing prime.”

Keeping with the times

Mr Dinardo said that as technology improves, Funfields has been committed to operating as efficiently and safely as possible.

“Our larger pumps are typically very reliable and continue to operate as we need and the only real upgrade has been the installation of new and improved VSDs. These allow us to better control the flow of energy to the pumps and therefore control our power usage and the outputs of our pumps.

“We have put large emphasis and effort into upgrading our dosing pumps over the years to ensure our water quality stays at the highest standard, not only lying within safety requirements, but also at a level that is most comfortable for our bathers.”

Featured image: Funfields has been in operation in Whittlesea for almost four decades. Image: Funfields

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