Conservatively 60% of the snow made in North America is made with compressed air and water. If that snow is made with first generation manual guns; energy and labor cost can be very high and production speed can be poor.
Luckily modernizing existing a/w infrastructure is the low hanging fruit. A case study would be Wintergreen Virginia, one of the most challenging snowmaking zip codes in North America. Our team connected with them in the late 90's. A guy named Bob Ashton came to one of the company seminars and came up after to say: "we are the poster child for a/w automation". Wintergreen had 4200 gpm pumping capacity but almost never touched it. 35,000 cfm and were always "air limited". The resort had a snowmaking crew of 12 per shift and struggled to pump 90 million gallons per season with a 100% manual installation. 95% a/w guns with just a couple of marginal temperature inefficient homegrown fans.
Today, under the leadership of Jay Roberts, Wintergreen is 98% automatic, with 450 automatic TechnoAlpin YA and YB hydrants on just over 130 acres. The resort has pumped as many as 230 million gallon in a season but now knows how to keep the genie in the jar. Wintergreen uses that automated sophistication as well anybody in the business and creates a ski surface, not excess inventory.
If the migration from manual to full auto was Revolutionary, Wintergreen is now in Evolutionary mode. They are moving from automatic Borax guns to automatic Rubis EVO guns where ever possible. This and the addition of 25 fan guns, also full auto, have allowed them to double the pumping plant and then utilize 90% of that capacity at just 25 wet bulb.
Same old 35,000 cfm air plant. How is it possible to double your pumping capacity and retain the same air plant? Switching from Borax to Rubis EVO at typical Wintergreen snowmaking temperatures can save 200 CFM of air for each gun replaced. TechnoAlpin Rubis EVO's only consume about 18 CFM. On those rare cold Virginia nights very often they were able to shut down air compressors.
The net result is that of the 10 years that Wintergreen has been a 100% automated resort, the resort has almost double the amount of water they pump per season and they do it for about kWh as a decade ago because they run so many less hours. Wintergreen runs with such self confidence in their system that they able to forgo the most marginal and expensive temperatures to make quality snow in the sweet spot of efficiency.
Wintergreen is a great example of the Evolution of Air Power in North America. Take an aerial view by following the link: http://youtu.be/8ZZh66CR7V8.
If you'd like a skis on snow tour of one of the most sophisticated marginal temperature snowmaking system in North American, Contact email@example.com.