LAS VEGAS - The United States Bowling Congress introduced new details for a tiered center certification program and unveiled a data-collecting tool for center inspections at the USBC Convention and Annual Meeting on Thursday.
"After several years of data collection and analysis, and multiple discussions with industry stakeholders, it was determined that a new process was needed to complete the inspection and certification of all the lanes and bowling centers," said Samuel Guy, USBC Director of Center Certification.
Over the summer, USBC will begin hiring and training four inspectors and one coordinator to staff this new program. The inspectors will certify centers year-round, beginning January 2023. USBC will inspect approximately a third of the centers in the United States each year, then will repeat the cycle.
Inspections will be $30 per lane and include a three-year certification for centers that meet the gold, silver or bronze requirements. Centers that do not meet those requirements will be required to have an annual inspection until they are able to move into one of the three tiers. The tier requirements will be announced at a later date, after USBC has collected and analyzed a sufficient sample of center inspections under the new process.
Inspections will be completed utilizing the Automatic Certification Evaluation Tool, also known as ACE. ACE is a state-of-the-art topography recording device that utilizes digital sensors and a precision-machined frame to collect lane data and generate certification reports in real time.
ACE will record all of the data points used for certification on a lane in approximately five minutes, compared to a 10- to 12-minute window with tools previously used in the process.
The data will automatically be input into a report, creating a more efficient collection method compared to previous practices that required local associations to manually record the information for each lane.
After the inspection is completed, the data will calculate the percentage of measurements that meet USBC specifications and ultimately place the center in a tier.
"Our goal was to make the inspection process more efficient, accurate and consistent," Guy said. "ACE delivers that with a push of a button."
The USBC Equipment and Specifications team has been working on the development of ACE for several years in correlation with the announcement of a tiered center certification program in 2019.
The program was introduced following a study of the lane certification process and analyzing data from lane inspections.
Those who are interested in becoming a National Lane Inspector or Center Certification Coordinator can apply at BOWL.com/Careers beginning in May 2022.
For more information on ACE and the center certification program, visit BOWL.com/CenterCertification