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How are Disney World, RPW, and the Auto Industry Connected?

November 28, 2012

My family and I just took yet another trip to the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. We’re really huge fans, and I’m a little embarassed to say it was our 16th trip in the last 6-1/2 years. We are season pass holders, and our kids have essentially grown up in “The World”.

On this trip, we did have a few abnormal events in comparison to most of our experiences. We noticed that there were several instances of rides being “down” in the middle of the day. In one case, there was a whole train of passengers stuck 1/2 way up the first (and only) hill on Goofy’s roller coaster. I would estimate they were sitting there for 10-15 minutes before they were escorted out of the coaster and walked down the hill. I’m sure Disney took care of them with some bonus Fast Passes or something.

About the 3rd time I saw a ride down, a thought crossed my mind about how big of a preventive maintenance program Disney must have to keep their rides all in working order! If you’ve read any of my previous blog entries, you’ll quickly find I’m a manufacturing guy at heart. The first decade of my working career after graduation from THE Ohio State University was spent in the automotive industry – where preventive maintenance is also a huge deal.

When I left my previous position, we had several hundreds of welding and material handling robots in the weld shop, in addition to dozens of conveyor systems and various machine components and systems. I was thinking, on one one of my four or five rides through the Haunted Mansion, how much like the conveyor carrying the Doom Buggies through the Mansion was similar to the conveyors carrying the car body components through the auto plant. I know how much work it takes to keep those conveyors up and running – and I applaud Disney for doing it so well.

So what does this all have to do with Resistance Projection Welding? Well, I’m glad you asked! One of the most common inquiries we get in our Resistance Welding group from EWI member companies goes something like “Our projection welds stopped working and we’ve tried everything and we can’t get anything to stick and we’ve got a line down and we’re running out of parts to send to our customers and we need your help really bad!” And if you’ve read far enough in this blog to get to this point of the article, you’ve earned some free advice for just this situation…

  1. If you had a robust weld schedule, one that’s worked for the last year or two or ten for a given part combination, that welding condition doesn’t just “go bad” overnight. Something else is wrong…
  2. On rare occasions, we’ve seen it where materials (due to some buyer saving a tenth of a penny per part) were changed, which can obviously impact the required weld schedule. It’s something to investigate, but not where I’d place my money in a wager.
  3. On other occasions, something in the electrical system could have gone screwy. That is, something inside the weld control could be wrong and causing an improper weld current or time to be delivered during the process, but given the feedback systems in most units – this too is not a likely candidate for your issue (if it were – it would probably be accompanied by an alarm – which may or may not have been disabled).
  4. And so we come full circle….. Preventive maintenance. What we have found is that in most cases when we get a call such as was described above, the issue is something in the maintenance (or lack thereof) of the weld system. The primary examples would be something is binding on the mechanical follow-up mechanism, not allowing for constant force during the weld sequence, or degradation in the current-carrying components (worn power cable or shunt strap).

So that’s the story. Disney World, RPW, and the Auto Industry all rely heavily on preventive maintenance to ensure a happy experience in the end. If you think about it – pretty much everything in life requires preventive maintenance. We change the oil and tires on our cars, preventive maintenance. We exercise and eat healthy, preventive maintenance for our bodies. We go on date nights and remember important dates, preventive maintenance for our relationships.

Thanks for reading along, and if you are looking for some great tips on resistance projection welding (or Disney), feel free to give me a shout!