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New telematics unit for Pistenbullys

With the support of m2m Germany, Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG has equipped its Pistenbullys with new telematics units from Owasys. Due to their open Linux system, these can be easily connected to the company's own fleet and snow management. Furthermore, an additional certification was acquired especially for the distribution in the North American market.

 

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Climate change can no longer be denied. It is now also leaving its mark on popular ski resorts, i.e. snow is becoming an increasingly valuable resource because it is becoming scarcer. In order to maintain ski operations in the long term and sustainably, natural snow must be used as efficiently as possible and artificial snow must only be used where absolutely necessary. This makes sense not only from an economic point of view, but also in terms of sustainable tourism. Nevertheless, ski slope preparation is and remains complex and cost-intensive.

Among other things, Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG manufactures all-terrain vehicles and is the world market leader when it comes to snow groomers.
Especially for these vehicles, it offers integrated fleet management and various software tools. With these, it is possible to track the current operating locations on the basis of maps, determine fuel consumption and downtimes, and map the entire snow management of a ski resort, including snow depth measurement. This makes it easy to identify optimization and savings potential.

The situation before

Kässbohrer wanted to make its Pistenbullys even more efficient and safer, and to further expand snow management and snow depth measurement. In addition, the vehicles were to be networked with each other during their operation and exchange their data with each other in real time. All drivers were to be able to access each other's snow data at any time in order to have an overview of the current snow conditions and the exact position of the other snow groomers in the entire area of operation.

The safety of the drivers also plays a role in the preparation of the slopes, because they sometimes work under extreme conditions. They often drive on icy tracks with extreme gradients, in poor visibility and in the middle of the night. To prevent the snow groomers from slipping on steep inclines and icy stretches, they are suspended in steep cables up to 1000 meters long. Other snow groomers can get caught in these and pose an additional hazard. Therefore, it is important for riders to know where the next snow groomer is in the ski area. Safety is the top priority.

As the previous solution had reached its limits, the telematics unit previously installed in the snow groomers was to be replaced with a new one. However, the snow groomers were to continue transmitting relevant vehicle data, such as fuel consumption, and a digital logbook was to be recorded in parallel.

The challenge

In addition to the functional requirements, the physical properties were decisive for the selection of a new telematics unit: The unit had to be suitable for off-highway applications and withstand extreme weather conditions, especially very low temperatures. On the other hand, the vehicles were to be used worldwide, i.e. also in the USA, so the telematics unit to be used had to have the appropriate certifications for the American market. In addition, the new telematics unit had to offer an open system, i.e. run on open Linux, so that the data could be linked to the company's own digital tools.

Equally important was the immediate availability of such a new unit as well as the guarantee of long-term availability!

The solution

With our long-standing partner and telematics specialist Owasys at our side, the solution was obvious. The owa4X IoT/telematics gateway from Owasys met all the technical requirements. Only the LTE module integrated in the unit did not have provider certification for the US market until then. In July 2023, Owasys was finally able to have its telematics gateways successfully certified for the North American market by Verizon, so that all requirements for use at Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG were met.

Currently, the snow groomers of the complete fleet are being retrofitted and owa4X IoT/telematics gateways are installed. The unit sends the vehicles' GEO data in real time to the other snow groomers via GSM or LTE. This allows drivers to see where their colleagues are at all times and avoid collisions. It also improves cooperation between the drivers. They can also see the snow depths throughout the ski area via a display. This means that every driver knows where there is enough natural snow and, if necessary, where it can be used to prepare another slope.

A possible expansion stage could be to switch to the owa5X for upcoming vehicles if even greater functionality is needed. Because the owa5X offers even more possibilities.

What it brings

  • Information about snow depths at any time
  • Riders know where which slopes are already groomed
  • Superfluous double trips are avoided
  • More efficient use of natural snow means less artificial snow is needed
  • More sustainable slope preparation protects the environment
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