Managing explosives at Sunshine Village resort

Tim Ricci controls avalanches on his job. “I’d say it’s almost a daily occurrence,” said the assistant snow safety supervisor at Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort in Banff National Park in Alberta. “We’ll go out in the morning and take a pack-full of explosives and blow up slopes,” he said.

Ricci forecasts, based on overnight temperature and precipitation, the potential for avalanches before actually triggering them on the ski slopes using explosives. The goal, he said, is to make the terrain safe enough for skiers and to eliminate the odd rock hazard.

But dealing with explosives means regular quality inspection and strict inventory tracking. Just a month ago, the resort deployed software from Field ID, a Toronto-based vendor of inspection and safety compliance technology. The resort wanted to replace the older RFID and paper process with a “bit more modern” system, said Ricci.

The resort uses handheld scanning devices from Field ID for daily inspection of the four magazines housing explosives to ensure there is no tampering. The technology is also used for maintaining an accurate inventory.

The devices are designed to suit rugged environments, said Somen Mondal, Field ID’s CEO. Basically, the technology works by allowing users of the handheld devices to scan equipment and receive instructions, through the device, on how to conduct the audit. Data is then stored in the cloud.

“Our biggest competitor is the clipboard and pen,” said Mondal.

Actually, Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort is the first customer to use Field ID’s offering for explosives management. Most other use cases, said Mondal, are to audit safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, harnesses and entire facilities.

Field ID technology doesn’t take long to implement. Mondal likens it to the straightforward approach of creating an account on cloud provider

Ricci said the new system makes for easier tracking of magazines and the ability to quickly produce on-screen reports when field inspectors are on-site.

Moreover, Field ID’s cloud-based approach ensures business continuity. “(We have) the faith that it’s backed up to a master server,” said Ricci.

The paperless system also aligns rather nicely with the resort’s green approach to running the business.

Next up, Ricci said the objective is to expand usage of Field ID to rope access equipment that includes rigging materials for ski chairlifts and rescue operations.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau