Groom­ing goes High Tech at Mount Buller

Alpine News - - News -

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

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