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These enclosures let the grass grow under their feet

05 October 2014

Modern football stadiums create issues relating to the natural growth of grass due to the shading cast by their roof lines. Fibox enclosures play a key role housing the control systems of SeeGrow’s ‘Advanced Pitchcare System', which was developed to tackle this problem.

A close-up of the Fibox PCQ enclosure showing its special clear fascia. As the Pitchcare system is unfolded across the stadium pitch, the PCQ panel must be moved so that it can be operated via the window from the outside
A close-up of the Fibox PCQ enclosure showing its special clear fascia. As the Pitchcare system is unfolded across the stadium pitch, the PCQ panel must be moved so that it can be operated via the window from the outside

Stadium groundsmen are under huge pressure to provide and maintain immaculate pitch surfaces. In addition to their more obvious role as the stage for football matches, stadiums are also increasingly being used to generate additional revenues from other unrelated events, and all of this activity takes its toll on the condition of the pitch surface.

Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue. SeeGrow’s ‘Advanced Pitchcare System’ was developed in conjunction with the commercial greenhouse construction specialist, CambridgeHOK specifically to encourage the rapid growth of football stadium pitch grass whilst also helping to develop a healthy root system that helps resist wear and encourage recovery.

Combining the latest ‘Priva BlueID’ BMS control hardware, grow lights, fan assisted heating, CO2 injection and irrigation systems, the Advanced Pitchcare System is essentially a mobile, foldable greenhouse which maintains a controlled increased CO2 atmosphere within, while utilising the grow lights - along with their residual ‘waste’ heat - to promote grass growth in an energy efficient manner. The control system receives a number of sensor signals relating to humidity, external and internal air temperatures and air CO2 levels.

One of the key design criteria that CambridgeHOK needed to address was the selection of a suitable enclosure for the Pitchcare control system. Not least among the various design considerations was the fact that the control panel was to be located within a warm and humid environment, sometimes for long and continuous periods of operation, so reliable ingress protection (IP) was deemed essential.

Another factor affecting the choice of enclosure was the mobile nature of the grass growing rigs. This called for an enclosure with a degree of flexibility that did not compromise its IP integrity.

Ease of operation was also deemed important. For instance, the placing of the control panel at the front of the rig to give the operator ease of access posed several challenges, typically related to weight and exposure to direct sunlight. And as these rigs are stored outside when not in use, the enclosures needed to provide excellent weather resistance.

In the end, CambridgeHOK’s electrical systems designer plumped for the PCQ range of polycarbonate enclosures from Fibox as these met all the design criteria as well as providing distinct advantages over alternative metal enclosures.

Polycarbonate enclosures resist corrosion and long-term UV exposure, as well as being non-conductive – an important safety feature. The material is easy to work, so enclosures can be customised, with cutouts easily machined to accept a variety of instruments and connectors. Moreover, polycarbonate offers high impact strength and low weight, facilitating quick and easy dismounting for upgrades or swap-outs in the event of a systems failure.

The low weight and UV resistance are particularly important for this application, as the panel must be easily accessible from outside the Pitchcare ‘tent’ during pitch treatments.

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