Grooming goes High Tech at Mount Buller
MT BULLER will lead the way in latest snow technology with the introduction of SNOWsat technology to the grooming fleet.
In an Australian first, some of Mt Buller’s Piston Bully grooming machines will have the new equipment installed this winter to assist their grooming team to know the exact depth and where more snow is required.
SNOWsat uses satellite-guided positioning to continually measure the depth of the snow, to within a few centimetres, so the operator can precisely move snow to where it’s needed and ensure consistent depth and quality of cover for guests.
It allows snow to be used more efficiently, spread further and at uniform depth to maintain quality of cover.
For skiers and snowboarders SNOWsat will deliver better quality grooming across the resort. The high-tech IT platform works with the Piston Bully groomer to help the grooming team make the best use of available snow and ensure an even and widespread cover on the runs.
Some of Mt Buller’s new Pisten Bully groomers will be linked to the SNOWsat platform to collect invaluable data each night as the slopes are prepared for the next day’s skiing.
Buller Ski Lifts General Manager Laurie Blampied explains, “Snow is a critical asset for a ski resort and SNOWsat helps us make use of all the snow available to ensure skiers and boarders can enjoy the best possible cover.”
“Grooming the snow to that ‘just right’ depth is a real art-form and this technology helps our groomers strike the ideal balance of enough depth to preserve the snow and ensure a quality cover, without ‘wasting’ snow by having a stockpile when it could be moved to open up more terrain.”
Mountain Manager Nick Reeves welcomes the high-tech tool, “This gives us a new level of information so we can better manage the snowpack with confidence. We can optimise the grooming and only move the snow when we need to. As a skier I like knowing the cover will be more predictable and as a mountain manager I love that it saves my team time and helps us reduce water and energy use.”
How it works
The current position of the snow groomer is continually plotted to an accuracy of a few centimetres. The SNOWsat base station calculates these figures (altitude/elevation) using GPS, GLONASS and GALILEO satellite signals. The correction signals are sent to the snow groomers.
In the snow groomer the GNSS receiver and the on-board computer continually calculate position, snow depth and other vehicle data, record it and present it on the touchscreen in the driver’s cab.
When the vehicle is within range of a SNOWsat WiFi access point the data is automatically transmitted to the SNOWsat server and stored.
In addition to displaying snow depths, slope edges, snowmaking facilities, roads and paths, the system also warns drivers of danger zones and alerts them to the presence of other snow groomers and their winch ropes, if these vehicles are equipped with SNOWsat systems.
SNOWsat boasts it also saves 8% on fuel and 5% less operating time due to understanding the exact depth of snow and saving often several passes by the groomer.
STUNNING: A sunset greets a snow groomer at Mt Buller. Photo courtesy of Mt Buller / Andrew Railton