J.R. Clancy has received the US Patent for its PowerAssist® Counterweight Automation System. PowerAssist received the 2006 Rigging Product of the Year Award at LDI 2006, and the 2006 ESTA Dealers’ Choice Award for Equipment.

PowerAssist technology is new to the theatrical rigging industry in that it eliminates the need to rebalance counterweights on line sets. While counterweight/motor combinations have been available in several forms for many years, PowerAssist uses a padded rope that fits into the existing head block, which works in combination with a roller chain and toothed sprocket to balance the weight of the batten, virtually eliminating the possibility of slippage or accidental release.

Using a compact, fixed speed hoist that fits under the locking rail, PowerAssist provides a control station with “dead man” up and down buttons. Operators press and hold the button to raise or lower scenery on the batten and stop the movement by releasing the button. No scenery moves unless the operator is actively pressing the button.

“In our 120 plus years in business, J. R. Clancy has developed many products for the rigging industry—and all of them are designed with safety and security as our foremost priority,” says Bob Theis, president of J. R. Clancy. “PowerAssist is not only an entirely new concept, but it is also a way to increase the safety of installed counterweight systems in schools, church auditoriums, and theatres around the world. All of these venues can enjoy the security and convenience of automation without making an unscheduled investment in total theater renovation.”

In addition to the patented technology, PowerAssist offers SceneControl 50, a controller that allows users to program preset stops for each line set. This allows operators to ensure that the batten always stops in exactly the same place, minimizing errors during scene changes or accidents involving battens that come down farther than expected. All controllers have a key-operated on/off switch to limit access to the system.