When we think of mountain operations, we often don’t think of technology as being an important part of the myriad aspects that make everything run smoothly. As time has marched on technology has become a bigger and bigger part of mountain operations both directly and indirectly.
From lifts to groomers and snowmaking, technology is an integral part of the actual operation of these components of the mountain operations world. These components are the workhorses of the ski area product. The manufacturers have been utilizing the use of technology to advance their products making operations safer and more efficient on the hill for mountain ops teams. You know better than me of the increasing complexity being seen in the equipment being manufactured today.
It is important to remember that technology is a tool, and like any tool, the value of the tool is dependent on the user of the tool. Steep Management, LLC, whose vision is to supply the ski area industry with information and tools that make the work of a ski area mountain operations more productive and satisfying for those who work in this field. Steep has consistently found a reluctance to take the steps necessary to utilize technology to improve the performance, productivity and job satisfaction of mountain operations.
In full disclosure, as most of you know, Steep Management, LLC sells two software programs, which use today’s highest level of information technology, for managing the maintenance of all on hill equipment and a suite of programs to assist in snow safety and ski patrol.
The gamut of what Steep has seen throughout North America ski areas runs from the full-on embracing of technology to the almost non-existence of managing the work. The average falls just below the mid-level range – doing enough to get by. Many want a magic bullet that will do everything imaginable at a cost that has no connection to what is wanted. Thus, nothing is done to advance the productivity or the quality of the maintenance work.
Technology, albeit with an initial cost is a tool that can aid in the mantra that many ski areas are forced to live under, which is “have to do more with less”. There are many forces
that are forcing this issue of having less beside cost; they include shrinkage of the workforce, extending operations into the summer shortening the maintenance season, and tighter regulations adding steps to the process. With these forces at play, the use of technology is a sound business decision.
While technology can make the work more efficient and possibly easier, there is another factor that technology brings to the table. Information. Not only can we gather information on the use of our lifts, groomers and snowmaking systems, but we can also collect information about the needs of servicing such that they maintain the highest output. Technology also allows us to share required information with the people doing the work on the hill, access to manuals, drawings, and schematics. Technology makes the performance of the work that much more satisfying, knowing that you want the staff to have easy access to the right data when they need it.
Whatever technology you chose to use to improve working conditions, embrace the concept and encourage the full use of what the technology can deliver to your operation. It will have long term payoff that will be off the charts!