Published the 03 May 2016
Armed with the SNOWsat piste grooming management system, the resort of Val Thorens takes innovation to new heights in order to offer you the very best of skiing.
So what exactly is SNOWsat?
SNOWsat is a professional piste grooming and fleet management system with snow depth measurement by satellite.
Before we go any further, perhaps you’d like to have a look at (or a second look at… ) our piste grooming article. You’ll get a behind the scenes peek at the profession, as well as the challenges encountered on a nightly basis.
This winter, the slope maintenance department adopted a GPS piste grooming management tool. Known as “SNOWsat”, it enables drivers to carry out their work more efficiently, quicker and with peace of mind.
Using technology to save time and money, improving safety and slope quality
Before we could implement this system, we needed to create a map of the ski area. A measurement report was carried out during the summer season, and the piste grooming vehicles were also fitted with a GPS receiver and guidance system.
Thanks to the GPS receivers, the piste groomer’s location can be determined in real time, to within just a few centimetres. Once the height of the vehicle has been deducted, the remaining value is compared to the height of the digital map of the terrain that is stored in the system (reference height). The difference between the two values gives you the snow depth at the piste groomer’s current location.
This data allows drivers to optimize the task of pushing snow back up the slope and redistributing it evenly over the ski run.
The data is also invaluable to snowmakers, allowing them to fine tune the amount of artificial snow they need to produce.
Another advantage is the guidance system, which enables drivers to get their bearings in the event of bad weather (snow storm, fog…). Slope edges are displayed on the screen and any risks highlighted, enabling them to avoid any dangerous situations (other piste groomers nearby, snowmaking facilities etc...).
Finally, thanks to the vehicle’s technical parameters, fuel consumption is reduced and maintenance optimised.
Currently, four piste groomers are equipped with the SNOWsat system in Val Thorens. However, the feedback has been very positive indeed and it’s only a question of time now until the whole fleet undergoes the same process!