Periodical ride inspections: what to do when the user and maintenance manual is not complete?
RIDE OPERATORS AND INSPECTIONS
by Enrico Fabbri
We have already discussed the importance of periodical inspections (daily, weekly and monthly) that operators must perform on rides as normal routine prevention. These are very important and serve to verify both that the most important welded joints are intact and the correct position of the pins and bolts connecting the different components, as well as finally to check that the rider safety mechanisms are fully operational.
Many rides that are currently in use were built many years ago and do not have user and maintenance manuals written according to current standards. It is also often the case that the manufacturer is no longer in business and consequently the operator (owner of the attraction) is responsible for updating the documents and defining the points that need to be inspected periodically.
This is a very delicate task and one that needs to be coordinated and carried out by a professional (engineer), who also acquires the required information based on the operator’s experience. For travelling rides, it is important to draft a checklist of operations to be performed immediately after setting up the ride, before opening to the public, as well as a second checklist of operations to be performed over the subsequent days and weeks.
The criteria to be applied in defining such checks can be summarised as follows:
A. The importance of the component in relation to rider safety: what would happen if this component broke or failed?
B. Pin connections: the strength of the connection, the presence of safety pins, and how long the ride is used without noticing breakages or problems. In addition, the pins need to be replaced at least every 5 years, as well as periodically replacing the safety pins.
C. Bolted connections: as for point B, the strength of the joint, the presence of safety pins or nuts, and how long the ride is used without noticing any breakages or problems need to be evaluated. Again, the bolts will have to be replaced at least every 5 years (especially for travelling rides), as well as periodically replacing the safety pins.
D. Electrical connections: the electrical system that controls the safety components must be fail-safe, so periodical inspections of plugs and junction boxes need to be performed for maintenance purposes. For example, cleaning them from dust and water, checking tightness of the screws in the plugs and in the electrical panel, etc.
E. Safety components, for example, in passenger cars: checking whether the safety bar or harness has a double safety mechanism, and whether the various components are assembled using pins and bolts featuring good fixing systems, such as safety pins and lock nuts (to avoid loosening).
These points represent a simple example of how to evaluate each component of the ride. Often, it is clear that a carefully designed and constructed ride may need less frequent inspection than rides designed and constructed with less care. It is not true that all new rides are well designed and built; the quality of the design, in fact, depends solely on the experience and professionalism of the manufacturer’s technical staff. For example, there are many rides from the 1990s (e.g. built in Germany) that are still very good.
I should also underline that periodical checks need to be performed more frequently when the rides operate more intensively. In other words, the more cycles, the more frequent the checks.
I can conclude by recommending that operators apply the utmost care: critically analyse your rides with the help of a trusted engineer, and where necessary do not hesitate to carry out more checks than those specified by the manufacturer.
Written by Mr. Enrico Fabbri firstname.lastname@example.org
Article originally published in Games Industry (Italy) magazine
Original date: May 2017
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