A Routine Maintenance Program Saves Time and Money

Do you have a set budget and regular schedule for care and maintenance of your challenge course, zip line, canopy tour or aerial park facility?  Setting a budget and creating a schedule for your annual facility inspection and staff training are an annual occurrence as they play a vital role in supporting efficient and safe operations.  A routine maintenance program can improve performance, reduce hazards and risk, and extend the usable life of your facility.  Creating an annual plan for completing preventative and routine maintenance reduces the risk of equipment or component failure which can interrupt operations, endanger life or property, and often require an expensive repair.

Many operators overlook the long-term benefits of short-term thinking about facility care. Without proper planning, small problems can be overlooked until they become bigger issues.   Planning for and spreading our maintenance and repairs throughout the year means you are less likely to experience a disruption at the wrong time.  Identifying and prioritizing annual maintenance initiatives is a simple task that can be easily outlined with the right information.

Start your maintenance planning by confirming the recommendations for maintenance and care outlined by the facility manufacturer or your current vendor.  This will very often include regular cleaning and treatment of wood products, ongoing inspection of critical components, and requirements for mandatory equipment service. While these general recommendations and requirements are an important foundation to your plan, they do not account for the myriad site and design-specific factors unique to many facilities.

A consistent in-house inspection routine paired with your annual third-party inspection is necessary to capture the specific issues that result over time from variables including environmental conditions and  the volume and type of use. Dynamic forces are repeatedly transmitted through challenge course, zip line, and aerial park facilities resulting in accelerated wear to some components. Without the proper oversight, metal connectors and fasteners can wear to failure, and bending moments can break cable strands and crack brackets.

A thorough and recurring in-house inspection process combined with the facility manufacturer requirements and recommendations allows you to clarify and outline the scope of your maintenance program. Once you have defined the scope of your plan, you can begin the process of prioritizing work and projecting annual expenditures.

Defining the scope of your maintenance plan is the first step.  Just as important is establishing a process for identifying which maintenance issues and items take precedence over others.  Ask yourself (and train your staff to ask) these critical questions:

  • Does the issue have the potential to harm staff, users, or property?
  • Does the issue impact conformity with any laws, regulations, and/or prevailing standards?
  • Does the issue have the potential to create a negative perception of the facility by staff, users, or other stakeholders?
  • Is the issue affecting general operations efficiency and staff productivity?
  • What is the likelihood that if left unresolved, the issue could lead to a partial or full facility shutdown?
  • What is the likelihood that if left unresolved, the affected component could fail or damage associated components?
  • What is the likelihood that if left unresolved, the issue may grow to require a larger effort/investment to correct?
  • Can the issue be resolved with in-house resources or does it require a qualified maintenance technician?
  • Is this a recurring issue that should be routinely addressed?
  • Will taking this action extend the life span of the facility?
  • Will taking this action save time and money over the life of the facility?
  • Will taking this action decrease the likelihood of unscheduled maintenance and capital repairs?

Once you have your maintenance plan in place and have a consistent process for identifying and addressing issues that are likely to arise, you can set a budget to address those needs.  Remember, maintenance and repairs to items that are critical to the life-safety functions of the facility should always be completed by a competent party and major additions and renovations require a commissioning inspection.  Start by outlining an initial 3-year plan and make sure to review and revise your plan based on the outcomes of each year. You will soon see the benefits of saved time, saved money, and reduced risk that result from an informed and proactive approach to facility maintenance.