Having thrown out the questions on Lift Maintenance training, I feel somewhat obligated to share some possible answers. Never had much love for those who just take shots without offering solutions.
I want to make sure no one interprets this in anyway critical of RMLA or LMS, these are the two major sources that we have of keeping lift maintenance mechanics/technicians/electricians on top of their game. Both, RMLA and LMS, are mainly volunteer efforts and should be supported and attendance is encouraged. Ski areas should be fully supporting these efforts to a greater extent than they are.
One of my ideas is based on 10%. This is not an original idea, many in today’s more innovative economy have employed similar ideas. Google for instance allowed its engineers to take 20% of their time and work on any project they wanted, this is how gmail came to be. I am suggesting that as an industry that 10% of lift maintenance time be devoted to in house training. This would be equal to approximately 200 hours per lift mechanic/technician or electrician. I know, I can hear all the negative responses here at my desk. But it will work and here’s how.
In House Lift Maintenance Training
The initial step is to identify the trainer and the curriculum. This essentially has been done in British Columbia, Canada. BC has a certification program, not a requirement, except for the trainers. I imagine this was done to provide continuity in the presentation of the teaching material and consistency in the measuring, testing, of those enrolled in the program. Selkirk College provides online training of the trainer at a very reasonable cost. Testing at completion of the course is very controlled. The ciriculum is based on Peter Wood’s book, Ski Lift Functions, Maintenance and Regulations. Many US resorts are using this well organized and detailed book as the basis for training already.
So once trainers and curriculum are established, the ski area has to make the commitment to the 10%. There would be many ways to do this, here are a few examples:
During Operation – many resorts have their lift mechanics sitting in the shop waiting for the request for a response – this would not include all the staff – but this time could be utilized for training, a few days per week. No Cost
(Might not be applicable where year round NDT work is being done)
Lunch Break – all lift mechanics gather in shop – have seen some very well laid out kitchens in many a shop – to eat their lunch and during that time the trainer goes through the curriculum or the topic of the month is discussed with pictures on a screen of what to look for, short videos of how to, Leitner and Doppelmayr have many, and other pertinent information shared. No cost – will concede you might have to buy a projector and wire up a computer connection
Both of these programs would need to combine with a full day once a month devoted to training, year round.
Monthly – all lift mechanics would spend a full day in training, more specifically hands on working on a system ,troubleshooting and preventive maintenance and understanding the complete system. Cost on a per mechanic basis ~ $1,920 annually.
This concept of combining a regular weekly training program with a monthly program would equal about 185 hours annually.
An Integrated program with Academia
In full disclosure this concept has not been vetted with Colorado Mountain College, CMC, or Gogebic Community College
The concept here would be to have an agreement with CMC to enroll those mechanics you deem necessary to get to a certification as a Ropeways Mechanical Maintenance or Electrical Maintenance Technician. This would require 4 years of online class work at 34.5 credit hours with a total of 518 field hours.
Send mechanics to Gogebic Community College each May – August for 3.5 weeks for 3 years which gains a Level II certification.
These programs would be in the range of $5,000 – $7,600 for tuition only. Please remember there is no standardized certification for lift mechanics or electricians.
The B77 committee is full cognizant of the need and is struggling with how to adapt B77 for certification. B77 is a recommended standard where as Z98 in Canada is how you shall do standard. Furthermore B77 has no legislative authority, the states have the authority over lifts. Only two states have full blown tramway boards, Colorado and Vermont other states have other agencies overseeing lifts.
Stay tuned I have been doing some research gathering inputs from what I deem successful lift maintenance technicians on their views on this subject, how they acquired the extensive knowledge they have and what would be their choice on training going forward.