Kässbohrer: Efficient and Sustainable Snow Grooming

21.11.2022 by Annalena Rauen
A Kässbohrer PistenBully and snowboarders against the background of the Nines


 

Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG has connected its PistenBully snow groomers via the cellular network to ensure efficiency, transparency, safety, and more sustainable grooming of ski runs.

Daredevil jumps and a spectacular setup made the Nines this year’s highlight for snowboarding and freeskiing fans. They eagerly and especially awaited the public day in Crans Montana, Switzerland, when spectators were finally permitted again after a two-year coronavirus break. On the newly designed course the world’s best snowboarders and freeskiers demonstrated both amazing courage and extraordinary skills with maneuvers like the downward spiral, the perfect jump and the sphere.

Professional Snow Grooming for Professional Snowboarders

Preparing slopes ahead of the day’s events, Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG snow groomers are the main reason why freestyle aces at the Nines were able to rely on optimal snow conditions for their high-risk maneuvers in the park. The bright red PistenBully machines from Swabia transfer up to 520 hp to their tracks and make short shrift of the steepest slopes. The Crans Montana snowboard park is just finger practice for a PistenBully. Preparing the legendary Streif run in Kitzbühel for the Skiing World Cup requires much more by way of power, precision, and nerves.

In fog, driving snow or the middle of the night, PistenBully drivers often have to work on totally frozen slopes and gradients of up to 100 percent in extremely heavy vehicles, so safety is crucial for Kässbohrer. As they prepare the slopes the heavyweight snow groomers are attached to winch cables up to 1,400 meters long. The cables are attached in turn to anchoring hooks along the slope to prevent the PistenBully from slipping and damaging the slope – or from plummeting downhill.

Safety Ensured by Real-Time Data

The winch cables pose a potential threat to other snow groomers and all drivers must know at all times the precise position of all other vehicles in the same skiing area. Each machine shares its location with the others in real time. A communication module with a Telekom SIM card on board the PistenBully ensures a reliable connection. It relays the vehicle’s location data to the other snow groomers by GSM or LTE so that every driver can see in real time on a monitor screen in his cockpit the precise position of the other vehicles. Other objects such as snow machines, anchoring wells or skilifts can also be shown on the screen.

The display in the PistenBully’s cockpit visualizes the snow depth

The PistenBully driver sees on his cockpit display other vehicles and the depth of the snow.

A PistenBully at work by night using LiDAR laser beams

The PistenBully measures the snow depth in real time by LiDAR up to 50 meters ahead and to the right and left of the run.

IoT Helps Secure Sales, Reduce Costs

The current snow depth beneath the vehicle is also determined and shown on the screen. Kässbohrer uses LiDAR technology (see info box) for snow depth measurement, which is essential for optimal preparation of ski runs. This sensor technology, installed on the snow groomer’s roof, measures the snow depth in real time up to 50 meters ahead and to the left and right of the run.

How LiDAR Works

LiDAR (light detection and ranging) systems use laser beams to measure distance or speed. The technology is already used by autonomous transportation systems to prevent collisions. In robotics it helps to register objects and surroundings precisely. Kässbohrer uses LiDAR for its SNOWsat snow depth measurement. The LiDAR sensor scans the terrain and objects in front of and alongside the PistenBully at a 120° angle and 200,000 data points per second. The system covers up to 2,600 square meters in front of and alongside the vehicle in real time. LiDAR enables the driver to see in high resolution on his display where there is too much or too little snow. He can then prepare the surface correspondingly fast.


 

Each driver can see live on the map where the others have already prepared a slope and where they have not done, so no area needs to be covered twice. That saves time and fuel – a far from insignificant factor in slope preparation.


Predictive Snow Depth Measurement by LiDAR: The Kässbohrer PistenBully in Action

Greater efficiency is also one of Kässbohrer customers’ main concerns. In view of climate change snow is becoming an increasingly valuable resource for ski run and cable car operators. The more carefully they use existing natural snow and the less technical snow they need to produce, the longer they can maintain skiing operations and the winter sports season in their skiing areas. Increasingly, their guests also expect a sustainable winter sports experience.

Fleet Management: A New Service

By connecting its PistenBully vehicles on the cell network Kässbohrer can add fleet management, monitoring, and remote servicing or maintenance to the services it offers to its customers. Not only drivers but also slope operators can see where their machines are and how they are deployed. Irregularities can be identified and routes and routines optimized, operating data and consumption compared. Accidents and damage events can be analyzed, maintenance better planned, idle times evaluated and unnecessary journeys avoided. Customers save not only water, electricity and fuel but also employees’ working hours and deployment time of their machines. Kässbohrer says this can cut the cost of slope preparation by up to 25 percent.

A further advantage of networking via Kässbohrer’s partner Deutsche Telekom is the Bonn, Germany, based company’s global footprint. Kässbohrer sells its PistenBully all over the world and with Telekom can offer its customers both national and international roaming. Kässbohrer snow groomers are up and running in the networks of Telekom and its roaming partners wherever skiing areas require professional slope care.


 

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New Opportunities with Connected Products

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Smart connected products provide insights into customer requirements, make innovative services possible and open up new revenue streams. Learn how digital innovations can tap into unimagined opportunities for your business.

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Annalena Rauen
Annalena Rauen

Marketing Managerin IoT

Back in 2016, Anna worked on IoT topics at Deutsche Telekom for the first time. Since then, she has been supporting customer best practices in a wide range of industries – always focusing on the benefits that the Internet of Things can provide. Her IoT blogposts describe real use cases and the value these innovations add to market players, their business models, and even entire industries.