Technology of Snowmaking: Automation

Many people are confused about the many aspects of automation or do not understand all of the options available. So we have developed some ideas for you to consider as you investigate alternatives.


PLANT AUTOMATION
HILL AUTOMATION
FULL AUTO/SEMI AUTO
SNOWGUN TYPES
INTELLIGENCE: CENTRAL OR DISTRIBUTED
WEATHER STATIONS
HYDRANT CONTROL
PRESSURE SENSING/SNOWGUN FEEDBACK
MASTER/SLAVE CONCEPT
ADVANCED OR BASIC INTELLIGENCE
COMMUNICATION OPTIONS
SOFTWARE AND CONTROLS
SUMMARY. As you have just read, snowmaking automation for the guns, hydrants and communications offer a variety of options. And with these options come numerous pricing levels as well. In general, the simpler the automation, the lower the price position.

SMI/TELEMET’s approach is not a one size fits all neither to snowmaking nor to automation. SMI/TELEMET’s philosophy of offering a full range of products with lots of configurations and features carries into automation as well. We want our customers to totally understand the options available and what you expect to purchase.

The benefits and justification for automation need to be considered on a case by case basis. The two big snowmaking operating costs are labor and power and the big benefit of automation is maximizing snow production. Some areas to help justification for the added automation capital cost include:

  • Fast startup
  • No gun setup, take down or transport
  • if using towers
  • Auto adjust capability
  • Less labor to start, adjust and stop
  • Better information
  • Faster opening of resorts and trail counts
  • Quicker recovery from bad weather events
  • Charge full ticket price earlier
A big step towards improving your snowmaking efficiency may be to simply add more tower guns to eliminate set up times and increase efficiency via added hang time. Then the next step of automation can bring further benefits.

The benefits of moving from an existing 20 snowgun manual fleet with 120 hydrant positions to a 120 fixed gun full auto system will be considerable. Then compare this to automating 120 fixed towers from manual to semi automatic or full automatic. In other words, be careful including equipment upgrades in the auto justification equation.

Adding snowmaking automation to a new trail is generally easier than retrofitting existing trails. Yet if they are the signature trails that can have vastly improved snow surfaces, then automation should be considered.

Most resorts tell SMI/TELEMET they have seen solid benefits in fast startup and auto adjustment by greatly increasing snow production, while reducing but not eliminating labor.

SMI/TELEMET recommends each solution on a unique and individual basis. For more information on our automation offering, go to www.snowmakers.com/products/automation.html

Snowmaking