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October 23, 2014

No Edsel’s Here

I flew out early Monday from YYZ to Winnipeg, hopped in a rental car and was sitting in an Arctic Cat boardroom just prior the one IMG_0067o’clock meeting which was the purpose of this visit. I’ve come to appreciate the road to Thief River Falls. Cellular service, along with the population, diminishes rapidly south of Winnipeg. It takes less than an hour and I’m no longer connected, no email, no phone, no internet, no distractions – time to think. Time you cross the border on 57 its so flat you could watch your dog run away from home for days.

IMG_0066I always drive in the back road of the Cat plant, just to see whats in the yard. Well this time, there was a lot to see. The sleds were piled up in endless rows and trucks loaded with toys, rolling  out the gate continuously. I couldn’t help but think – 10K,10K,10K,10K,10K… Wow!


This meeting was all about BOM’s, spare parts books and production timing, none of which fall into my field of expertise. Take the BOM’s for example. I’ve never really thought that deeply about how all the bits come together to become a finished product. Well the BOM (bill of material), in the case of Arctic Cat snowmobiles, is the ‘recipe’ that contains every piece of the sled broken down into each component of each part, procured and combined into the sub assemblies and assemblies that run down the manufacturing line getting ‘baked’ into the final product. Take the warning labels that insist the operator uses common sense in using the product; The BOM breaks it down into a piece of sticky vinyl, a ribbon of ink (for each color used), a drawing to give it’s dimensions and a layout indicating what it will say and look like. Each item has a part number assigned and if you change the language to French then x2 the whole deal. By whole deal I mean the complete BOM. We have well over 50 BOM’s representing our current model line of Vipers to cover Canada, US, Europe and Russia, each one with hundreds of part numbers. They all have to be condensed into meaningful assemblies for service parts, (replacement parts for maintenance and repair) and transferred from the AC system to the Yamaha system… manually. Yep. There is no magic program or software that makes this happen. Someone at AC has to go through these things line by line with a good understanding of both engineering and service requirements, develop exploded view diagrams of the assemblies part by part, assign new numbers, then, after they get everything  tidied up, our guys have to take and reinvent the listings into the Yamaha format with our own order, drawings and part numbers. Our job was to try and make this more efficient.

IMG_0072I really longed for a cold beer by the end of this one. So it was off to the ‘Black Cat’ to reflect on the day. In the comments to last weeks blog, I was asked why did the well proven Nytro engine mapping not apply to the Viper. Fair question. The original agreement would have Yamaha supply the engine as a ‘short block’ if you will. The exhaust system and ECU were up to Arctic Cat to develop as part of the adaptation to the requirements of the ProCross chassis. Where it get a little more complicated, Yamaha and AC use different third party companies working with our engineers to develop and produce the electronics, who in turn license their technologies back to us. The software and programming used by these companies is proprietary and protected so they were not part of the deal. Development time was really tight on this project and ECU mapping is very complex so it was not as simple as one might think. Ultimately, we did share some responsibility in getting things done and have learned a lot from the experience to the benefit of our current projects

To address another comment, the 2014’s performed remarkably well and the few glitches we encountered have been addressed (and quite quickly so in my experience). I certainly wouldn’t be concerned about the performance of the new ones.

Tomorrow marks the opening of the fall motorsports show here in Toronto which used to be exclusively snowmobiles but now features everything an off-road motor-head could desire. I hope to sneak in before the doors open so I can have a look around, then hang out in our booth as long as my old back and brain (not to mention vocal chords) can hold out, which I should add, isn’t what it used to be!


cheers cr


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7 Responses to “No Edsel’s Here”

  1. Yellowknife says:

    Complex indeed. Question if it can be answered, why change everything to Yamaha part numbers? Why not have AC numbers remain the same and have AC’s parts fiche exist in the Yammi system for the Yammicat products? I’m assuming both companies get the exact same part from the same place and just call it a different number, but what advantage does that have over the costly time to change things to Yammi P/N’s?

    P.S. Apparently the perception this summer was you weren’t posting blog’s and I wasn’t making video’s because we were both told by YMC to shut up. Then when I started making video’s again in late August and you still weren’t posting, it was perceived you and I were no longer partners in crime (because apparently we were, didn’t you know? Me either). I love how things can be completely invented from scratch and then re-spun to boot!



    Hey YK, I only wish it was that easy. Our system requires PN’s in our format, they are not just random numbers the prefixes and extensions categorize and file them in logic. example PN starting with 8 are automatically snowmobile, ending in 01 / 02 / 03 etc indicate changes to the part and supercesion, they all have meanings and our software program was written to understand the same. Besides that, we have a rule. We don’t challenge our rules ;).

    And here I thought you were fishing this summer while I was out riding my bike. I didn’t know about our conspiracy and gag order but thanks for having my back LOL. You gotta appreciate the fact that some people even give a damn of what either of us are up to! Stay warm up there. cheers cr

  2. DNR says:

    Hey cr, some of the more refreshing report material in all the media, especially today.
    Just thinking of the IBM number format and their standard in logic thought. Tough nut to crack.
    Take care out there.

    Thx DNR 🙂

  3. Steve. Roberts says:

    Yah Chris good points , parts can be a wild, I sometimes think the birth place of random number generators.
    Personal experience , I was working as a licenced auto tech at a Mopar dealer when AMC Jeep and Renault was acquired . Wow. Mopar box , and part number,sticker over Jeep sticker with a Ford part in the bag inside with another number.
    Try and rebuild a Renault tranny, French parts fiche , no pictures. No service manuals, tools and corporate “factory training ” yeah you get the picture. Policy… Order by description only…..
    Saying that I think AC and YMC bonded with a lot more structure and capability to sort things out logically. Dealer network and aftermarket support already established, and a product that both are committed to .
    I hope once all the growing pains subside that the model set becomes just one of the line up and attention can be shared with other sleds.
    Maybe a power steering system for the VK pro, to turn float plane size skis…..or OEM enhanced electronic navigation / communication systems standard for long distance tour V GT and TS models …
    Any way your spirits seem better , and that’s a key benchmark to maintain. It doesn’t take a lot to keep a smile on, just a little sugar on the daily turd offerings this world serves up.
    I recieved 3 of my early bird Ontario trail passes in the mail the other day , so I am good for a couple of weeks too.


    Spoke to an old OFSC friend and insider at the sled show, said permit sales are well up for the second year in a row. Things are looking good for organized sledding in Ontario! cr

  4. Greg says:

    Hi Chris,
    Glad you are back into the blogging mode. I also liked the crack about taking days to watch your dog run away from home – reminded me of when I lived in Roseau.


    Well now that you have retired from the industry, watching the dog disappear could be right up your alley … jeallllous! cr

  5. Stephen Burdick says:

    This yamaha part numbers go back to the beginning. As a vintage sled nut, those are pretty darn helpful in their model nomenclature way back in the day…………..

  6. Stephen Burdick says:

    Black Cat is a GREAT SLED HANGOUT!

    Yes, but they need to get some decent IPA in stock! 😉 cr

  7. CraigB says:

    Hi Chris,
    Please keep us 100% Yamaha sled riders the updates and feedback you get on the performance damper systems. I’m sure the Vipers are great but for now I feel better invested on what has been time tested, re-fined, and true for groomed trails! I have a 2012 Vector and a 2012 Apex XTX so I wasn’t financially ready to buy the Spring order sleds with the new system. Please let us know on the user feedback and if they will become an accessory add-on.

    Will do Craig, we already have the settings and mounting figured out for both your models. It is only the matter of pulling the trigger on accessory production. Stay tuned cr

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