That means this is the opinion of one person, not a trip report or news article. Please keep that in mind as you are reading.
It's Monday, and RD is back with a topic that is sure to stir the pot and probably upset a lot of people.
This week RD is discussing everybody's favorite ride manufacturer, Intamin and their seemingly uncanny ability to turn something amazing into something that doesn't work very well.
Is this just the manufacturer doing what the park wants, rushed design and manufacturing or a combination. Read on to find out. - Gregg
For years now, Intamin has been losing ground in an ever changing battle of scale in the amusement industry. It hasn't always been the case. However, their decline is entirely on their shoulders, and for good reason.
Let's take a look at the rise & fall of Intamin's history.
For those who don't already know, Intamin actually stands for INTernational AMusement INstallation. They were originally created as a way of marketing new rides all over the world at the dawn of the theme park explosion.
Companies such as Haefma (River rapids & log rides), Giovanola (Coasters & ride technology) and the great Schwarzkopf (Coasters & flat rides) used Intamin as a way of selling their rides overseas. This was a very successful venture, filling parks with the latest in rides and manufacturers with an ever growing business.
As Intamin grew, their desires to enter the ride building business grew as well. As Intamin began to work on their own rides, Giovanola was their primary contractor, developing & building their version of the Standup coaster as well as the fabled Space Diver coasters.
Intamin's first coasters were mostly smaller rides & spinning coasters. While designs were created by Intamin, Giovanola did their track bending & work, that is until they set up their own factories. The result of bringing this in-house was the spectacular Ride of Steel coasters, which combined speed, height & force changes that opened the eyes of many. Much like any firm does, these designs bred other similar coasters, growing in size, length & thrill elements along the way. Inversion coasters soon followed, leading to the eight & ten inversion coaster.
The drop tower was redeveloped from the original Giovanola systems into a true drop ride. Intamin began selling these as fast as they could make them, and in any size a park wanted.
But the decline was already being rooted. Underengineered systems were notable among almost all of their attractions. Chain breaks were commonplace, even on new coasters. Downtime was notable beyond the norm. Technology was outpacing development's ability to keep up.
And then technology began to break:
And then there were the engineering mistakes:
Intamin's reputation for thrills is among the best. Their reputation for quality is among the worst. Looking at their track record, it shows a consistent inconsistency: Odds are that if you've bought an Intamin ride, it is going to have a serious mechanical issue within the first few years. In some cases rides have required serious design changes to alter the track profile or ride mechanisms.
In an era when parks (and their riders) are demanding better quality & comfort from their rides, the levels of quality are diminishing greatly. Painful rides such as Green Lantern (SFMM) have earned a reputation for great discomfort. And quality being as bad as it is results in downtime - a black eye on Intamin & the park that has installed one of their attractions.
What went wrong? How did a company rooted in quality builders & trades go so poorly so quickly? Why are new rides requiring expensive & time consuming alterations?
Part of this has to do with rushing through a ride's creation & building. Being able to develop & build a ride in less than 12 months is a tight schedule all around, and results in quality control being shoddy, and corners being cut.
Poor engineering is to blame for some of the issues. Failing to note possible issues in forces is an inexcusible failure of somebody to control the design - and present possible issues to potential owners of new attractions.
So what to do with Intamin? They have pushed the envelope - and that is a great thing. But their quality has suffered at the hands of this.
First, they need to put better quality control & design to good practice. Other manufacturers have surpassed their quality several times over - and it shows. B&M, MACK, Zierer & others produce rides that are quality installations from day one. Intamin has a reputation that is well earned for building a ride - then spending months tuning it and altering it to fix issues, often at the cost of time & lost revenue to a park.
Second, process control must be applied - parks will not spend money unless Intamin spends money. By developing a better product through process will pay yields. Building quality rides that will last a long time is a good start, one that will build to better reputation, and better design processes.
We have seen too many good manufacturers go by the wayside due to issues with building rides. Intamin's legendary development is in danger of going that route unless they rebuild their quality- and their reputation.