An interview with Jon Ruddock of ADIPS

The Amusement Device Inspection Procedures Scheme, or ADIPS as it’s better known, is the fairground and amusement park industry’s own adopted standard for the inspection and certification of fairground rides and amusement devices.

In May of last year Jon Ruddock took over as General Manager of the organisation, and Lynne Whatmore spoke to him recently about his vision for the future of the scheme.

“I came to ADIPS when I left the Royal Air Force after 26 years of service,” Jon told us. “I was an Information, Communications, Technology Manager, which is a mouthful, but basically I was responsible for communications in all its forms for supporting aircraft.

“My last job was as the RAF’s Senior Engineering Warrant Officer, working directly for the Chief Air Engineer, and I was responsible for providing engineering advice, ground truth and risk management for all the air engineering and engineering personnel – that’s around 10,000 people – in the RAF.”

According to Jon there are a lot of parallels with aerospace engineering management and the work that goes on at ADIPS, so that coming into this new industry he was very familiar with the safety issues, but had much to learn about the specifics of terminology.

That, however, was easier said than done.

“Fun fairs are a niche area, and from a learning perspective there isn’t much out there in engineering journals on fairground equipment. So learning has been all about talking to people rather than the written word; and if I hear a new term, I have to ask, because I can’t Google it.”

John says his aim is to make ADIPS and the UK the envy of the world in terms of fairground safety, and he has hit the ground running, having already introduced amendments to improve the scheme.

“There have been a number of things that I have immediately not liked and have implemented changes for. My goal is to make ADIPS the global standard for amusement device inspection, and to do that we need to be consistent and standardised in our approach, whether that is with inspectors, controllers or operators.

“Whether you are a big park or a showman the ADIPS answers will be consistent. My number one priority as set me by the ADSC [Amusement Device Safety Council] is to ensure that digitisation of inspection happens. Currently we are employing Pole Star to carry this out and I have a good background to be delivering this transformation.

“There is a lot of bad press out there about Pole Star and some resistance from inspection bodies, but the ADSC and HSE [Health and Safety Executive] want it, and for as long as they do I will endeavour to deliver it.”
Another area that has come to Jon’s attention is the recruitment of inspectors into the industry.

“I’ve been told that this has been a perennial issue, and I have removed trade association representation to make the registration panel more independent.”

Jon also wants to make the safety aspect of modern fairgrounds much more visible to the general public, so that when they take their children to a fun fair they can be secure in the knowledge that the rides have been inspected and tested. He would like to see large signs at fairground entrances declaring that the park is protected by the ADIPS scheme, and says that work is currently underway to make the ADIPS website more public-friendly.

“I am looking to professionalise the industry and am currently in talks with the Institute of Engineering and Technology in the hope of an affiliation with that organisation and recognition by the Engineering Council, making it easier for the inspectors that are part of the scheme to become professionally recognised as either ITech, IEng or CEng.

“ADIPS has a real branding issue, and I think the ADIPS logo should be just as recognisable as Gas Safe for gas or a kite mark on a kettle, and should be synonymous with safety when parents let their kids lose on a bouncy castle or a Roller Coaster. The parents should know that their kids are safe because an ADIPS inspector has passed the ride their kids are on.

“I will be trying to raise the profile of ADIPS over the coming years to try and drive the demand for inspection from the public. I have a plan, and with industry buy-in I hope to implement it.”
Independence

Jon also believes that ADIPS should be proud of its independence and the fact that it is still self-governing, which means that when high profile incidents occur – as they have in recent months – unlike HSE, ADIPS does not receive direct pressure from the Government.

But Jon wants showmen to be aware of how crucial the backing of HSE is, and how important it is that the scheme is adhered to and used properly. On a visit to the Hoppings last year it seemed to Jon that there was a difference between levels of commitment to the scheme, and that some showmen understand the impact of what HSE are saying and some perhaps don’t.

The bottom line is, if there were to be another incident and more parliamentary questions, Jon doesn’t know how much longer the Executive would be able to endorse the ADIPS scheme, and that would be the point at which the Government might step in.
The worst thing about an aircraft incident is that people die, and the risk is exactly the same in the fairground industry. Naturally the authorities want to know how much that risk can be mitigated, and so ADIPS must justify what it is doing to make the industry safer.

To add to this, the explosion in social media means an incident can go viral in seconds, and news of even a minor accident can be right across the country within minutes. In short, showmen need to be more aware, and to realise what they have with ADIPS and how much more difficult things might be if it wasn’t there.

ADIPS tomorrow

As far as the future of ADIPS is concerned, Jon says there will be further development of the Pole Star system for inspectors, but he also believes digitisation should mean much more than just a better inspection tool, and should involve operators and controllers too.

“If a showman had an app on a smart device that gave him instant access to his documentation, then this would give greater control to that operator. In the past ADIPS was very focused on inspections and not so much the controller side, and we now gets calls from showmen who don’t have their documentation with them and an inspector wants to see them. I don’t want showmen to lose money because they can’t operate because haven’t got certain documents with them.”

Following further digitisation, there will also be a process allowing the simple transfer of documentation to another person when a ride is sold.

Jon is also keen to tackle the issue of recruiting new inspectors, and is confident that there are thousands of people out there who already have the right skills for the job.

“I will be looking at making it easier to join the scheme as an inspector,” he told us. “Currently the scheme document is not friendly, and there are other industries that employ the skill set that we require. I will be mapping skills and qualifications from other industries and making it easier for people to know what is required to join the scheme.”

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is the largest engineering institution in the UK, and Jon is already in talks with them regarding an affiliation with ADIPS, meaning the scheme would be endorsed by a highly respected independent body. This would create a pathway for existing inspectors to get professionally recognised, and would also open up opportunities for around 170,000 professional engineers in parallel industries not that different from fairground rides.

More than anything, Jon wants the rest of world to look at ADIPS, see how good it is and use it as a model, and he is more than happy to listen to the showmen and hear their feedback on his plans for the future.


ARTICLE SOURCE: “The Worlds Fair” by Dr Lynne Whatmore?

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