The Magic of Automation |

The Magic of Automation

September 252012
The Magic of Automation
Disney’s Greg Hale Keynote at ISA Automation Week
September 25, 2012
By Bill Lydon, Editor
In Tuesday’s keynote address at ISA Automation Week, Greg Hale, Chief Safety Officer and Vice President, Worldwide Standards and Auditing, with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, provided insights on how Disney has innovated using technology to meet their goals. Hale described how everything Disney does is based on four keys for success as defined by founder Walt Disney - Safety, Courtesy, Efficiency, and Show. The Disney magic starts from the perspective that all employees are called cast members and customers are called guests.
Hale discussed Disney’s attention to detail for safety and ongoing maintenance. For example, Disney uses maintenance management software that incorporates handheld wireless devices carried by personnel to deliver maintenance information including task workflows. Maintenance personnel log issues and status of completed tasks through these devices. One unique feature is that each time a ride is queued to run, the control system performs a logical check with the maintenance management system to insure there are no open maintenance issues. This check closes the loop to prevent an attraction from operating if there are any overdue preventative maintenance tasks. Disney’s high commitment to maintenance directly contributes to high availability and safety. 
Hale described how he improved efficiency with the invention of the FirstPass system. FirstPass allows guests to receive a pass to ride the attraction at a later predefined time, in essence, reserving their spot in line.  This system has increased guest satisfaction and improved utilization and throughput of attractions.   It has also resulted in improved sales of food and other products since guests are not stuck in a line.  When you consider FastPass, it is a great example of improving real-time process flow.
Regarding the success key, Show, Hale described the Assistive Technology Devices developed by Disney that uses technology to enhance the experience for guests with disabilities. These devices provide rich audio description in moving rides and outdoor environments for people with disabilities and fits in the palm of a guest’s hand. Disney has patented and licensed the assistive technology which could serve a wide variety of retail, commercial and industrial applications. The technology is already being used at the World of Coca Cola Museum, The Hall at Patriot Place and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.   The Handheld Assistive Device is offered at no cost to guests, with a refundable deposit at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort theme parks.
Attendees of the exclusive ISA Automation Week 2012 EPCOT Backstage Tour had the thrill of experiencing Disney’s Soarin'™ and Mission: SPACE attractions along with a backstage tour. Both of these attractions are great examples of orchestrating a number of technologies in real-time.nThe excitement and enthusiasm of the Disney people is apparent as we discussed the attractions. Attendees also went backstage to see and learn how Disney designs safety and maintenance methods to meet demanding uptime goals for these attractions.
Soarin’ is a multi-sensory attraction that simulates a peaceful hang-gliding flight over California. Multiple passengers ride in gliders using a lift system and view an IMAX projection dome that wraps 180 degrees around them. Special cameras on airplanes and helicopters captured many of the shots and the glider moves the same way the aircraft did, so you really feel like you're flying as you glide over awe-inspiring vistas and landmarks. The attraction cleverly delivers the sensation of the wind in your hair and scents related to the scenes.
Mission: SPACE is a motion simulator ride that is as close as you can get to blasting off into space without leaving Earth that realistically mimics what an astronaut might experience during a space flight to Mars. You have the option to experience forces up to 2.4G—more than twice the force of the Earth's gravitational pull.
Hale concluded his keynote by talking about the importance of engaging young people in the automation profession. After listening to Hale and experiencing the backstage tours, I realized there is a lot that can be learned from the Disney way of doing things.
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