"Despite the warm weather last week we are not worried about the end of the season", laughs Fernando Perathoner, Technical Director of the S.I.T.C. S.p.A. (Società Incremento Turistico Canazei, Italy), "we are very relaxed because we are superbly equipped. Indeed, our slopes are always perfect – and they will continue to be so right up to 12th April 2015, when everything closes. We have SNOWsat to thank for that!"
Silverio Pezzei, Slope Manager with responsibility for snow production throughout the entire ski resort, adds: "For our firm it is the best purchase of the last few years!"
Following the first winter season during which the resort has been working with SNOWsat, we have interviewed the "real" users of the system to get a true impression of the advantages and above all the savings.
PistenBully News: How did you hear about SNOWsat?
Fernando Perathoner: Four years ago, Valter Tura, Manager of your Italian branch, took us to Madonna di Campiglio to show us what the present SNOWsat V3 is all about. It was still called "Package 4" then. The idea of this satellite-guided system impressed us from the start. The accuracy of geodata was still lacking at that time and, thus, full mapping, but the snow depth measurement was demonstrated in a very credible and easily identifiable manner on the hills that had been specially built for test purposes and then levelled again. Some functions that we would have liked such a system to have were still missing. However, it was clear tous from that day on that this would be our system of choice for investment in the future, once it was refined. We examined the system very carefully and identified relatively quickly the requirements that we then passed on to Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG: we wanted the data to be available to drivers in real-time on a monitor in the vehicle. We also requested other specific data that was not yet available at that time.
PistenBully NEWS: Why and when did you finally decide to go ahead with your purchase of SNOWsat?
Fernando Perathoner: In January 2014, we were taken along to Engelberg-Titlis to see the progress that had been achieved from three years of development and practical testing. We were all totally astounded and impressed that everything that we had commented on before had since been realised. The only thing that was not quite perfect was the resolution on the monitor. But it was clear to us that this was our product, to which we had contributed to a considerable degree with our high requirements! And the display is razor-sharp now too …
PistenBully NEWS: And in June of last year you finally made the decision: you ordered SNOWsat V3 for 6 of your PistenBully. Did everything go well with installation and commissioning?
Fernando Perathoner: Admittedly – we did have a couple of concerns at the start. Particularly because of the base station being installed up on the mountain. I was worried that it might not be possible to install this on time if the snow came early. And the base station is ultimately the heart of snow depth measurement! But thanks to your engineers everything happened on time and smoothly – and at the start of the season we were ready to begin this adventure.
PistenBully NEWS: Be honest – really without any technical problems?
Günther Burchia, master snow maker at the Belvedereski resort: There were of course a few issues at the start with such a complex satellite system. But one call to the technical team was always enough and any problems were immediately resolved. That always worked really well.
Silverio Pezzei: One really important advantage is the fact that we got everything from one firm – Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG is our only contact, and we have already been working with their commercial and technical teams for many years.
Fernando Perathoner: I have to say that this investment has truly been made at the right time. If we had still not had SNOWsat during this difficult winter with the little snow that did fall from the sky, then I don‘t know how we would have got through this season so well.
Günther Burchia: Previously, we have always been making snow up to the end of February – and definitely when there is so little natural snow. But thanks to SNOWsat, we were able to stop with snow production a whole week earlier, because we had distributed the snow evenly throughout the resort. We know exactly how much snow we have, where it is and where we need to move it. And above all we know that whatever happens there will be enough until the end of the winter season.
PistenBully NEWS: What do you see as the major advantages of SNOWsat?
Fernando Perathoner: Completely spontaneously and without doubt I can sum that up in one word: SAVINGS – savings in snow production, savings in the fuel consumption of the PistenBully, savings in labour organisation.
PistenBully NEWS: Is it possible to translate that into actual figures?
Fernando Perathoner: The accounts for the season aren‘t complete yet, but I can say with absolute certainty that we were able to reduce our snow production by 80,000 cubic metres – the other savings resulting from this haven‘t been worked out yet. And we all know what machine-made snow costs. So I am reckoning that our investment in SNOWsat will have paid for itself in less than three years.
PistenBully NEWS: And what do the drivers think about SNOWsat?
Silverio Pezzei: I am sure that some of our drivers were worried to start with about being monitored. But they now understand that the documentation of their work, which they can also view on the PC each evening before their shift, gives them the opportunity to improve their driving performance and control of the PistenBully. The display in the vehicle also helps decisively during their work.
Fernando Perathoner: By doing the same work in the same time, but at lower revs and, thus, with lowerfuel consumption and with less wear and tear, they have thoroughly grasped that SNOWsat offers crucial advantages in the economic sense from the company‘s perspective, but also with regard to their own safety.
PistenBully NEWS: We are of course thrilled that you are so pleased with SNOWsat, but – hand on heart –where is it lacking, or what would you like to change?
Silverio Pezzei: Clearly – you can always make anything better! But I am convinced that, aside perhaps from small software optimizations, Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG has the situation in hand and the system will continue to be refined. We have already seen that with our own eyes over the last few months with impressive results!