Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel has long championed the cause of sustainability. The Tyrol-based company is notably the only cable-car operator in Austria to have twice claimed the Chamber of Commerce’s Sustainability Prize.
Its prowess in measuring snow depths played a special role in this achievement, dating back to the run-up to the 2007/08 Hahnenkamm races, when the first trials were conducted on Topcon’s GPS+ 3D machine control system in combination with the ARENA PistenManagementSystem by PowerGIS. This has now been tested and refined over numerous seasons, leading the team in Kitzbühel to deploy it across the entire area. After all, it provides optimal support for snowmaking and piste bashing.
Taking control for the Hahnenkamm races
The technology makes sense from more than just an ecological standpoint. It’s also economically sensible – across a range of time that can be viewed as sustainable; this applies to the GPS+ supported PistenManagement-System as well. Manmade snow costs a huge amount of money – not just in production, but also application and redistribution.
Measuring snow depths
To conserve resources during this process, Dr. Burger, CEO at Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel, opted for a snow-depth measurement system that has since been redeveloped to create the PistenManagementSystem. The motivation at the time was the Hahnenkamm races. The FIS (International Ski Federation) stipulates a minimum snow depth and surveys depths all over the course shortly ahead of the race. Traditional measuring methods matched the FIS findings exactly – confirmation of the quality and effectiveness of this technology.
Defining target conditions
An important part of the ARENA PistenManagement- System is developing an effective strategy. This can mean defining how much snow will be produced down to the individual hydrant, and the maximum amount of water that will be allowed to flow before a controlled stop is implemented. Initially, the ‘targets’ are based on estimates, but are increasingly tailored to real observed conditions. No ski resort or mountain face is the same and a great deal of experience is needed to define the targets.
The solution for objective decision-making data comes through GPS+ technology from Topcon, which uses deep integration of the American GPS and Russian GLONASS signals for precise location determination. ARENA PistenManagement Software by PowerGIS then processes the signals in real time.
How it works
Where ARENA PistenManagementSystems are used strategically, water consumption can be planned. Close adherence to water specifications can cut consumption by 10% on average, with correspondingly lower energy consumption. Simply put, this system surveys the surface of individual sections of each piste.
That surface is multiplied by the target water depth to produce the total volume of water required. That overall figure is then distributed as evenly as possible between the hydrants responsible for covering the relevant section of piste with manmade snow. Once the desired volume has been reached, the snow blowers are moved to different areas or turned off. Once snow piles have been equally distributed using snow depth measurement tools, the new results are used to ensure that the proper mass has been achieved. Follow-up snow blowing can then be organised as required.
This case study demonstrates how GPS management systems can be used to provide optimal support for snowmaking and piste bashing, and has now been used across the entire Kitzbühel area.