Upping Maintenance Culture & Standard

MND’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) regulates and issues permits for operating amusement rides, working with operators of rides such as Universal Studios’ roller coasters and Uncle Ringo in HDB heartlands.

There is a wide range of rides, from very sophisticated technologically advanced roving motion simulators such as the “Transformers: The Ride”, to basic ones like the kid’s choo-choo-train.  But the common objective is to let customers have fun with peace of mind.  Customer safety is the topmost priority.

This demands a lot of exacting work and serious contributions from well trained professionals who work behind the scene every day; before, during and after each ride.  It requires a high level of maintenance culture and service attitude.  The maintenance crew in turn demands a high level of commitment and support from their company’s leadership.

During the past year, BCA’s engineers have helped smaller ride operators ramp up the conditions of their rides and ensure that they have proper operating and maintenance procedures.  BCA keeps operators on their toes by inspecting the rides regularly.  The higher the risk level of the ride, the higher is the frequency of BCA inspection.

I brought a team of MND colleagues to visit Universal Studios Singapore recently, not to enjoy the rides, but to go behind the scenes to meet the maintenance crew and observe their workshops.

We left very impressed.  Their workshops were clean, non-greasy, well laid out, comfortably air-conditioned, with tools and equipment neatly stored and placed.  BCA’s engineers told me that what I saw was in fact the regular state; it was not staged for my visit.

What struck me was that the workshop is as comfortable as any modern office.  This shows the top management’s attitude towards the importance they place on their maintenance crew.

At Universal Studios Singapore, more than 200 staff work round the clock, 365 days a year performing inspections and preventive maintenance.  Each time after the inspections and maintenance works are completed, it is the responsibility of the technician to count his tools to make sure that each and every one is accounted for.  A tool falling out of a high speed rollercoaster is unimaginable.  This reminded me of the same sort of rigour our hospital operating theatre staff have to undertake, after each surgery.

In Singapore, there are more than 70 amusement rides.  We require all park operators to observe a strict protocol to ensure that the design, operating and maintenance codes comply with international safety codes and standards.

Universal Studios Singapore represents one class of park operators with a high level of sophistication.  We have other park operators which are of smaller scale, with rides of a lower level of risk.  However, the same maintenance rigour is applied to all ride operators, big or small.  Indeed, the same attitude and approach must also apply to the maintenance department of other entities such as hospitals or hotels.  Or for that matter, the train operators too.

A high standard of maintenance culture cannot eliminate breakdowns or accidents.  But it ensures that what is preventable can be prevented, thus eliminating foreseeable risks and minimising accidents.

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