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ropeways.net | Home | 2019-12-18

Why do I need a CMMS at my ski area?

By Bob Ackland / Steepmanagement

Stepping up to the future

The question of why do we need a CMMS for lift maintenance at XYZ ski area is asked quite frequently. A CMMS is a computer maintenance management system.

XYZ ski area has eight lifts, two are recently acquired, one is a used Doppelmayr detachable quad, and the other is a new SkyTrac quad. The ski area has used paper records forever. They have had no severe lift accidents. They have had some critical, untimely maintenance issues causing lifts to be down during the ski seasons.

The lift maintenance department is relatively common in its personnel makeup. The five members have been self-taught utilizing seminars for their technical training. The crew is aging, and management has been looking to hire a younger people into the department. The new lifts are putting a strain on the lift maintenance crew, mainly keeping up with the preventive maintenance, especially the electrical requirements.
The strain of ensuring that the lift maintenance crew meets the weekly, monthly, and annual preventive maintenance requirements is troubling for management. They fully recognize the potential consequences. The biggest concern would be safety and the possibility of a severe lift failure during the season, especially if it were to happen on a busy weekend or during a holiday period. The liability insurance carrier is actively pushing them to get the scheduling and the record-keeping to a higher level, as are the state tramway inspectors. Management keeps going back to the paper system and how they think it has served them adequately over the 40 plus years. They seem to forget their concerns when they look at change.  They have improved the work orders and track some of the work via Excel, which is done annually on two lifts for an annual summary.

The ability of the crew to access technical information is limited to going back to the shop, finding the manual, and the historic records on the lift component they are working on. Many times, it is either a ski down or a snowmobile ride to the shop and then back up to the motor room of the lift with the technical input needed. Unfortunately, this trip can be a deterrent to getting the important information, so a repair or procedure is tried or done without the proper technical input. Additionally, the use of parts is haphazard; no record of the frequency of use exists, or when the items are used, so there is no data to indicate what should be stocked to enable quick repairs – the tendency has been to overstock parts.

While management has been hesitant on the concept of a CMMS, the lift maintenance manager has done research and believes the move to a CMMS would address their immediate concerns as well as provide XYZ ski area a platform to gain a lot more data relative to their lift performance and serve as an excellent training tool for new hires. Some members of management have expressed that if they did go to a CMMS system, they expect to have everything on the system, vast mobile capability, reporting systems available to all, minimum installation effort like a plug and play app, and all this at a minimal cost.
The installation of a CMMS system at the XYZ ski area can certainly address the concerns of scheduling preventive maintenance and ensure that there are notifications by lift when preventive maintenance is not performed at the scheduled time. A CMMS can also provide for tracking of individual components that are indicators of potential problems. There are various features that different CMMS programs offer, which increase productivity and accountability, creating a more positive work environment.

Most CMMS programs have a variety of features that provide much more value than just the basics. These are powerful tools that, once successfully installed, the system becomes a valued tool for lift technicians as well as managers. Having information available is knowledge, and with experience can come success. XYZ ski area recognized the importance of education but did not know how to provide it to their lift technicians. With a CMMS their technicians can access manuals, drawings, add photos to gain clarity, service bulletin instructions can be included in the detail of work orders; the list of potential utilization of the CMMS is really up to the user.

My inclination was not to share with you that I sell a CMMS specifically created and designed for ski areas worldwide, but I feel I would be missing an opportunity if I didn’t. The product that I offer is MountainOffice, and it is currently serving over 175 ski resorts worldwide, mainly in the Alps of Europe. It has been my task to bring MountainOffice to North America. Interestingly, I have found that most North American resorts are just like the XYZ ski area. My takeaway is that it is not that cost is a barrier but effort. Installing any CMMS takes some thinking and organization, which requires taking a step back, and an examination of current procedures and processes. To many a daunting task, especially for someone who has a full plate already. I can assure you it will be worth the effort both financially and emotionally. Here, below is a simple chart of MountainOffice’s features

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