System efficiency has always been a main focus at TechnoAlpin and especially for the Snow Experts’ R&D department. That is the only way to ensure that TechnoAlpin can continue to lead the way in snowmaking. This policy has again paid off recently in the field of valve engineering in the form of the new above-ground valve block for use with the A30 and A9 lances.
TechnoAlpin has had its own R&D department ever since the company was established, and today there are eleven employees working there. In financial 2008/09 alone, TechnoAlpin invested over 1.1 million euros in R&D, and the input again generated a whole series of innovations including the new lances with the above-ground valve block.
The new above-ground valve block can be used in combination with most members of the TA family of lances. It is compatible with both the compact slot-in lance base assembly found on installations with central air supply and the familiar tripod base typical of systems that operate with a local compressor. Use of the above-ground valve block is also independent of pole length and head type, and it can be combined with standard 6 m and 9 m poles and with either the A9 or A30 nozzle head.
In addition, the new valve block is compatible with all existing hydrants and can be used with the ON/OFF valve, the pneumatic valve (only with central air supply) and the new WO Hydromat. In combination with the WO Hydromat, it is possible to have integrated water pressure control for even more precise flow control in combination with the four settings available on the valve block. It also permits the potential of the lance to be exploited to the full over a wide temperature range and snow of consistent quality to be guaranteed.
The above-ground valve block is mainly used in combination with the new compact switch cabinet. That combines the advantages of a smaller footprint with the benefits of installing all the electrical components above ground in the switch cabinet instead of placing them in the pit. The result is greatly improved accessibility, ease of maintenance and longer component life. In the automatic version, the new above-ground valve block can be integrated in fully automatic installations or it can be operated as a stand-alone solution for local control. In the manual version, the two additional water flow levels can be switched by hand using two levers on the valve block.
The above-ground valve block is a compact lightweight unit in a two-layer PE casing for safe handling and full protection against the elements as well as during transportation, installation and storage of the lances at the end of the season. Like all snow guns from the house of TechnoAlpin, every above-ground valve block is delivered pre-assembled with the lance pole ex works in Bozen following pressure and function testing.
In addition to product quality, TechnoAlpin also has a strong focus on convenient working. The nozzle head, pole and valve block form a single unit, and the complete assembly is quickly and easily installed. The Camlock couplings used for the air and water supply also contribute to a user-friendly system. The biggest advantage of all, however, is fast and easy maintenance. The water filter insert in the valve block, for example, can be cleaned without the need to climb into the pit or clear the snow from the manhole cover.
The sensors for air pressure, water pressure and water temperature are located above ground where they are better protected from the wet than inside a pit. That is the key to longer sensor life. Another advantage of the new lances operated with the above-ground valve block is the fact that they can be installed on compact valve pits with limited clear internal dimensions. They can also be installed on concrete footings with no pit at all.
The details of the above-ground valve block:
• Robust aluminum casting
• Two electric valves for the switchable flow levels
• Water filter housing with a 250 micron filter insert
• Integrated air filter
• Air pressure sensor
• Water pressure sensor
• Water temperature sensor
• 1” Camlock coupling for water
• ¾” Camlock coupling for air
• Heating pins/heater for fast availability
• Integrated drain valves (with heated drain hose to the pit)
Bergbahnen Nassfeld Pramollo AG was the first TechnoAlpin customer to install the new lances with the above-ground valve block. This winter the Nassfeld ski area has had 45 lances (25 A9s and 20 A30s) to handle the snowmaking on its central Scheibelboden trail. This is one of the area’s top-priority trails, where snow cover must be available within sixty hours.
The contract placed with the Snow Experts also included a water cooling system comprising six Cooltech 3600 cooling towers (180 l/sec) so as to ensure delivery of the snowmaking water at the ideal temperature. With its new lance installation, Nassfeld has again underscored its pioneering role in the field of snowmaking in Carinthia and further increased its capacity to deliver the white stuff. Here is what Gerhard Aneter, operations manager at Bergbahnen Nassfeld Pramollo AG, has to say about the new system:
1. What made you choose a system with lances and the new above-ground valve block?
What convinced us most was the ease of maintenance offered by the new lances. The above-ground valve block and hence the water filter are accessible at all times, so there is no need to climb into the pit. In the summer we take down the lances, and servicing is performed in our central workshop. That also greatly simplifies the work involved.
2. Now that the season is almost over, what is your impression of the new lances?
So far the reports have been entirely positive. Our expectations in terms of a maintenance-friendly solution have been more than fulfilled. We are also highly impressed by the system with regard to output and the quality of the snow. And the lances offer easy handling and excellent stability in strong winds.