Show Goes On At Disney World

Theme park relies on asset-management software to track status of services, costumes, and more

Beth Bacheldor, Contributor

July 11, 2003

3 Min Read

Bad plumbing doesn't seem like the kind of thing software can fix. But in Florida's Magic Kingdom, anything can happen, right?

Of course, it wasn't magic that led engineers to the faulty pipes that were causing problems at a resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando. It was MRO Software Inc.'s Maximo strategic-asset management software, which the hotel and theme park megasite uses to track all its capital improvements, inspections, renovations, repairs, new developments, upgrades, and replacements of just about everything on the premises.

"We track pretty much everything from cradle to grave," says Bill Kivler, director of global engineering. That includes service repairs required for its fleet of vehicles as well as the location of life-size costumes for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest of the gang.

Walt Disney World plans to use MRO's Maximo software to respond faster to problems and even track costumes.Photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters/Landov

The software, which compiles historical and trend data and cause and analysis reports, helped pinpoint the plumbing trouble and resolve it, Kivler says. Getting those repairs under way was just one of the 2 million work orders Disney has the software juggling at any given time. Companies run into trouble when they manage their fixed, physical, and capital assets in silos, which keeps them from having a good idea of how one job relates to another. Strategic-asset management software is designed to give companies an enterprise-wide view of all the assets across an organization. That could keep a company from, say, scheduling parking-lot maintenance at the same time as it's undertaking a major overhaul of its facilities' roofs that will require most of its labor force's efforts.

Walt Disney World has been using Maximo for several years. Feeding the application are three Oracle databases: the Engineering Services database, which serves as the database of record and holds information about everything from air-conditioning systems to office machines; the Integrated Facility Planning database, which holds data related to all cyclical capital improvements, such as repainting buildings; and the Central Shops database, which holds information on the production and renovation of all the Disney rides.

Its success so far with Maximo has spurred new IT projects: Walt Disney World is testing mobile handheld devices that personnel use to keep track of preventive maintenance performed on equipment. Currently, work orders are downloaded to the Symbol Technologies Inc.'s mobile systems running a custom-built application. Later this year, Disney plans to link that application to Maximo, so work orders can flow automatically and wirelessly from its databases to the handhelds, Kivler says. This will help control data entry, he adds. And technicians should be able to respond faster to customer issues, such as malfunctioning air conditioners. Once the work order is completed, employees will be able to transmit updates back to Maximo, as well.

Disney has also been expanding its use of Maximo's reporting and audit capabilities to improve quality assurance. "We're looking at everything that's done, why it's being done, who's doing it," Kivler says. "This drives analysis." And having all the information to call the right shots about which assets need attention right away and which can wait is the only way to keep the magic in the Magic Kingdom.

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