Maintenance Survey Shows Encouragement

Maintenance Survey Shows Encouragement

July 2019 Ski Area Maintenance Survey

The survey that many of you participated in this July came back with what I would say were encouraging results. The response rate wasn’t as good as I hoped, 8%. The pool was limited to mountain ops maintenance staff.

The encouragement came in that a high percentage of respondents indicated that they have a maintenance strategy, 94.6%, and that upper management, 64%, is involved in setting the maintenance strategy – certainly room to improve on this latter point.
A higher percentage use metrics to measure their maintenance performance than expected, 46.7%. Lots of room to improve in this category and the disconnect here is if senior management involvement was at the level reported, why weren’t question being asked? Monthly, 26% and annually, 39%, reviews were being held, and 56% were reviewing the metrics with their staff. Again, room for improvement but definitely beyond expectations. 51% tied metrics to their strategy, which is a strong indication that ties back to a high percentage having a maintenance strategy. There needs to be a broader use of metrics.
A very good response to the question relating to sharing performance with your staff, 88%. However, this means there are still 12% who are not sharing the maintenance performance with their staff. The underlying assumption could be that these are folks who don’t use metrics, 53% of respondents. The difference in those not using metrics and those not sharing performance with their staff doesn’t correlate. If you can’t share a measurement, what is being shared?
The question regarding whether staff could recite the maintenance staff accurately was interesting in that it split almost down the middle, 53% yes and 47% no. Repeating the strategy often in department meetings is the key here. It will also enable better employee engagement.
Training seems to be something all respondent take seriously. This question was flawed in that the system did not allow multiple answers to the question. However, there was enough data to indicate that in-house training is the #1 training venue, 42%, with manufacturers, 14%, and RMLA at 23% the next level of venues for training. LMS, the Eastern version of RMLA came in at 11%, an indication that more Western ski areas were respondents than Eastern ski areas.
Overall the indication is that maintenance is important; it is measured and levels of performance are communicated to those that do the work. Saying this means that the levels of those embracing maintenance are higher than expected. There is still significant room for higher awareness of the importance of maintenance in the culture of ski areas.  The NSAA with issuance of the Lift Maintenance Resource Guide will provide an essential tool for training and raising the bar on maintenance.
To see the full results of the survey click on the July 2019 Ski Area Maintenance Survey 
Thanks to all those who participated.

Data and Information

Database of record: Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Rapid, intuitive retrieval of current and historical data (accessible on or offsite) improves decision making at all levels of management.

Simple report generation.

Reduces risk and potential lawsuits.

Supports visualization of current and future mountain infrastructure (e.g. Gazex explosives locations, forest thinning, designing new runs, parking, etc.).


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Ski Patrol

  • Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).
  • Use of common language allows for consistent communication and information sharing.
  • Increases safety by minimizing accidents through pattern analysis of incidents.
  • Accident Investigation and Risk Management.
  • Snow Safety (Ski Patrol) Training.

The web and mobile application suite will provide editing and data collection tools for mapping incidents (wrecks, accidents) of any kind.

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Avalanche Module


Ability to document, track and analyze slope conditions with one tool.

Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).

 Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Provides detailed current and historical weather patterns for visualizing/predicting.

Saves money through more precise use of explosives. 

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The dispatch and risk module leverage Esri’s Survey 123 for ArcGIS, providing an intuitive survey-form, data-driven workflow for point feature collection and reporting. Data collected with SmartMountain Survey apps, which are available for both web browsers and native desktop and mobile apps for standard operating systems, are integrated with one or more SmartMountain modules, providing real-time or disconnected and later synchronized workflows for data collection and integration.

Each ski resort decided what they wish to display on the Dispatch Dashboard including on-hill incidents, walk-in incidents, on-hill refusals,  missing persons, work details for different departments, ski patrol rosters for the day, clearances, and sweeps.

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  • Logs for Lift Maintenance, Lift Operations, and Groomer inspections, as well as building inspections.
  • Logs can record data and signatures, can record stops, station assignments.
  • Logs are tracked by calendar.


  • Management review made easy through the use of Excel – reviewing a major grouping of assets or a single component of an asset such as a drive or a gearbox.
  • All information related to a system(asset) is in one place whether it be a lift inspection report, a manual, oil analysis, a service bulletin, or a letter from a vendor.


  • Every user has a unique dashboard.
  • Dashboards can be customized to reflect a user’s specific needs.
  • Quick access to the status of work and cost .


  • The schedule function in MountainOffice provides for detailed instructions by task, recording of data such as the temperature of a gearbox, and service bulletins.
  • All schedules can have a time or counter trigger.