I probably should be working...
- Oct 2, 2018
So last week I was at a client's facility to install vision systems at a couple of stations on their assembly lines for Zero-Turn mower transmissions. My company had installed the control system for these two particular lines back in '05, long before I worked there, but I have gotten a good look at what was done back then during my service call last Wed-Fri. Anyways, they keep track of each transmission (Full model number, serial number, etc) by placing them on a sled with an RFID chip. Each time the sled enters a "station," the RFID is read and the picking lights for the worker on the line instruct what parts are used and in what order to install them before releasing to the next station. What this has to do with Skyride, you will see in a minute. For some background, during my time at BGW, I was at Skyride for one regular season, as well as two CT's. The Skyride usually can have 3 or 4 operators per station, with positions at Catch, Load/Unload, and Trip. Trip is a very safety precarious position. While the cabins lock simply by closing the door, they do have a "double-lock" in which the trip operator will enable with their key. Not double locking the cabin is a safety violation, which can be cause to be removed from rides. This means that the park keeps careful track of who is in the trip position and exactly which cabins they send out. This is done on paper logs, which are very important to stay on top of. These do have some very obvious shortcomings, mainly that they can be falsified. They mitigate this with pens, but if someone going into Trip does not write down their first cabin and their last cabin, who knows exactly what cabins they sent out. Getting to the concept now, my idea is to change over from a pen and paper system to an electronic log system within the ride's control system, utilizing RFID chips. Each cabin would have a RFID tag that is scanned at each station, when it comes in and when it is sent out. Each operator would have an RFID bracelet, or similar RFID device, scanning it to a reader at the trip position before the trip mechanism releases the cabin onto the cable. The control system will associate each cabin RFID with each operator RFID and store that information until the cabin is scanned at the next station. Upon arriving to the ride, operators would "login" by assigning their name to a RFID tag. Operators would keep the RFID tag on them for the duration of their shift (minus breaks). This system would allow the ride to keep track of exactly what cabins are out on the line at any time as well as who sent each cabin. This opens the ride up an entirely different operation scheme if they so choose, by allowing all operators to complete all positions, being able to have the operator catch the cabin, manually push it through unload and load, then put it in Trip. This would be a lot safer then the current system of handing off the cabin from operator to operator, where an operator could get hit by a cabin if they are not paying attention. It also allows one more step in the release process, ensuring that the Trip device will not release until a valid RFID is scanned. The time in which a cabin goes through a station is of concern, but I don't think that the extra step of tapping their wrist against a reader before releasing the cabin would cause much delay, especially if the reader was placed in a convenient location. Another reader could be placed at the catch position in which if the catch operator sees a single locked cabin, could tap their bracelet to it, in which park ops supervisors could further investigate. This would add an extra level of accountability, preventing "backstabbing" behavior, which I have witnessed at various rides where a petty feud would result in one worker spreading lies, especially safety related ones, about another team member they have beef with. I don't think this catch scan is as necessary as the trip scan, but it is an idea to potentially make this system better. I had been thinking of sending these ideas to some of my former co-workers, who have since worked their way up the park ops ladder and would have the pull to try and get a system like this implemented. Thoughts?