It is a well-known fact that the slope quality is a decisive criteria when it comes to choosing a ski resort. In our last issue, we reported about it. Of course, a durable, ridable and safe slope depends on many uncontrollable factors like temperature, snow depth and snow quality. For obvious reasons, the dozer blade is indispensable for preparation but, to provide good slope quality, the correct use of a quality tiller is decisive.
Our larger PistenBully models, the PistenBully 400 and PistenBully 600 are equipped with the AlpineFlexTiller (AFT), a tiller more powerful than one might think. Correct usage, however, is essential. In the following, our experts provide useful advice on the most effective ways to operate an AlpineFlex Tiller.
Once it is closed it stays closed - and often times the cover is closed too early and too often. As a consequence, snow and ice pile up. Having too much snow in the tiller makes the diesel consumption increase. If the cover is left wide open, however, the slope quality will suffer. If the snow is soft, the cover must be open wide to enable a fast passing of the snow. In case of firm snow, it better be closed - the chunks of ice are tilled more intensely and after a few cycles in the tiller they are crushed and transported to the slope.
Our advice: Changing the cover settings several times a day will make a big difference!
SNOWtronic enables an automated and consistent tiller depth, especially when driving over hills. According to the setting, snow hills can be removed (0 %) or built up (100 %). With a medium setting of 40 - 60 %, a consistent tiller depth is maintained.
Our advice: An adapted driving speed helps a lot!
Vehicle and tiller calibration
To make sure that SNOWtronic works in a reliable and correct way, both the vehicle and tiller must be properly calibrated. The setting to the so called zero position is another important factor for a decent grooming result. The changing of the chassis or the weight by mounting or removing a cabin or winch also has an impact on the zero position of SNOWtronic. Its calibration is carried out on an even ground when the new vehicle is handed over and afterwards on an annual basis (or upon need) by a mechanic during revision.
Our advice: Correctly calibrate and recalibrate as changes are made to the equipment to optimize SNOWtronic capabilities.
Whether SNOWtronic or not, when it comes to extreme slope conditions, 10 tons of vehicle and tiller react differently when driving up and down the hill. Gravity has a slight impact on the tiller depth.
Our advice: Especially for very difficult//hard slope conditions, it is recommended to adjust the tiller depth each time you go up and down the mountain according to the gradient. All it takes is just a little adjustment to get the perfect tiller and slope quality! A huge impact is guaranteed!
... and some more advice: Studies show that in the case of fresh snow, tilling is crucial. When tilled, snow crystals are crushed and air is sucked in. The snow becomes significantly more dense.
Another highly influential component of the grooming is choosing the right time, so that the snow can sinter; thereby, a higher density is achieved. However, this process needs time: To make sure a slope meets the needs of winter athletes the snow needs sintering time of approx. 8 hours. The right time for grooming depends on the snow quality, the expected amount of rain or snow fall and the night temperature.
Our advice: When there is fresh snow, it is recommended to only use low contact pressure of the tiller. The lower the contact pressure, the better the climbing ability of the machine.
Spot: Finisher structure
A proper, freshly groomed slope with its typical cord structure simply looks nice. This is a fact every skier can confirm. Comprehensive tests prove that the enlarged surface supports the sintering process when it has more contact with the cold night air. It provides the slope with more grip.