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IMPRINT Publisher: © TechnoAlpin AG/SpA · Via Copernico/Kopernikusstraße 6 A · 39100 Bolzano/Bozen · Alto Adige/Südtirol/South Tyrol Italia/Italien/Italy · Tel. +39 0471 550 550 · Fax +39 0471 200 441 · · · Responsible for stipulating: Erich Gummerer – Editors: Patrizia Pircher – Design: dv media, Bressanone – – Printed by: Athesia Druck, Bolzano - Content may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part, including electronically, without the explicit permission of the publisher – As of: September 2010

20 years of TechnoAlpin Happy Winter Sports Enthusiasts!

20 years - one objective TechnoAlpin was established 20 years ago by Georg Eisath, Walter Rieder and Erich Gummerer. Their vision was clear from the outset: they wanted to build snow-making systems that produce the best quality snow and to sell them all over the world. These three founding members can now look back over 20 successful years of the TechnoAlpin company. But TechnoAlpin’s real story begins even earlier than 1990. In the early 80s, Georg Eisath and Walter Rieder were operations managers at the Obereggen ski resort and were very motivated in becoming more independent of the climatic conditions. Hence their high level of interest when the first snow gun arrived in Obereggen from the USA in 1983. The results were disappointing, however. “The machine did work, but it just wasn‘t suited to the climatic conditions in our temperature

ranges” Walter Rieder recalls. The two resourceful operations managers set about building their own snow gun. Commercially available components were used in their creation. “Georg had to convince his father to lend us his hay dryer. And we used agricultural spray nozzles“ recalls Rieder. They then worked with the local metal worker to build their machine. “I‘m not sure how, but we had finally managed it. Our first prototype even produced snow of the same quality as the American machine”


Georg Eisath presents the Latemar M90 in Slovakia in the early 90s

says Rieder. The management team in Obereggen saw the potential in the two novice inventors and in 1984 they bought the machine. Eisath and Rieder continued to work on improving snow gun. “The turbines posed the greatest problem. With our own homemade turbine we couldn’t get an optimum wind flow� admits Rieder. So they then turned to a professional manufacturer. This proved to be a major step forward in their development. The snow gun was first sold in Obereggen. Over the years more and more ski resorts in the area expressed their interest. The partners founded the WI.TE company and started producing machines in greater numbers. The first plants were built in

Georg Eisath and Walter Rieder found the WI.TE company in the mid 80s, this becomes TechnoAlpin in 1990

Cortina (ITA), Falcade (ITA) and Valzoldana (ITA). In 1988, the Schneider company expanded their operations to Seefeld (AUT), which was their first oversees plant. From the outset the focus was on research and development and the snow gun was continuously improved. Eventually in 1990, the famous Latemar M90 model was launched on the market. Sales figures continued to rise. Eisath and Rieder decided to add business knowledge to their technical expertise by bringing Erich Gummerer into the company. All were in agreement that to hold their own in this niche market they needed to go international. In 1990, they jointly founded TechnoAlpin GmbH and in the following years they established a global network.

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20 years of TechnoAlpin

The Schneider company from Seefeld orders a yellow snow gun in the early 90s. The company color was just pure chance.

TechnoAlpin’s success story begins with the Latemar M90. For more than 10 years, it will be the snow experts’ flagship model.

TechnoAlpin goes for yellow

they just don’t come at all” is how Erich Gummerer describes his experience of winter sports tourism. Technical snow-making has therefore become essential for winter tourism. And technical snow-making has also created more demanding skiers. The slope must be constantly perfect, regardless of whether or not there is enough natural snow. This has contributed greatly to more advanced developments in snow guns.

When they started out, the snow experts’ snow guns were still blue-gray in color. The transformation to yellow was thanks to the ski resort operations manager Wolfgang Schneider from Seefeld, who by then was a business partner of the WI.TE company. In his opinion, the machines worked really well but they weren’t visually appealing. “Wolfgang Schneider asked us to supply yellow machines. It made no sense to us to have snow guns in different colors in each ski resort and since yellow works well for visibility, we decided to use it as the color for all future snow guns“ Walter Rieder explains. “Looking back of course, this was a real stroke of luck. At the beginning we tried to make the machines as inconspicuous as possible. They were almost mouse gray in color. We’re now delighted that we opted for yellow. It caught on much better. Some customers even believed that the yellow machines would work better than the gray ones even though they were built identically” says Gummerer, smiling at the memory.

In the mid 90s, this led to another significant milestone in product development: Automation found its way into technical snowmaking. Baby, the tower mounted model, was launched as a standard low pressure machine and ATASS was developed as the visualization software.

From manual to fully automatic snow-making. “When we started out, we worried that we were too late in setting up our company. When we were setting TechnoAlpin up, there were already a number of suppliers in the market. It soon became clear, however, that development was just in its infancy and that the market still had huge potential” according to Gummerer. Up to now, development can be summarized in three phases. At first, snow was made as and where it was needed, later on, the need for a surface covering of snow was established. “In the past, people didn’t seem to mind too much if there was too little snow for skiing. They went on holiday and were happy to go on hikes as well. Nowadays it‘s different. If guests can‘t ski,

The tower-mounted Baby is the first automated machine from TechnoAlpin. Automation revolutionizes snow-making technology.


A healthy environment is the ski resort’s greatest asset. TechnoAlpin makes an important contribution with its oil-free compressor.

In 1996, TechnoAlpin set up its first subsidiaries in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

A leader in environmental protection issues In 1999, the next innovation to hit the market, something still in use today: the oil free compressor was introduced. “We wanted to ensure that not one single drop of oil escaped into the environment in the snow-making process. With this in mind, we put everything into developing a reliable and energy-efficient oil-free compressor” explains Gummerer. The goal was achieved. Every snow gun produced by TechnoAlpin since 1999 has been fitted with an oil-free piston compressor. Shortly after the millennium yet another successful model, the M18, was ready to go into production. The number of snow guns sold annually passed the 1,000 unit mark for the first time.

You can only succeed in a niche market if you operate at an international level today TechnoAlpin‘s products are available in 42 different countries

Progress in focus TechnoAlpin’s main focus of attention continues to be on Research and Development. In 2005, investment in this area rose to over 1 million Euro for the first time. This is bearing fruit – TechnoAlpin continues to bring out new products on the market. Recently the T40, the MTS and the V3 snow lance went into production. “In the future, the focus will definitely move to an even more efficient use of resources. We want to generate snow using as little energy as possible and with optimum water usage. This is not only better for the environment, it also reduces costs in the long-term“ Gummerer says, revealing TechnoAlpin‘s future plans. “And of course, the future is all about keeping one group of people happy: the skiers. That has been our recipe for success up to now and it is one we intend to maintain. The skier should enjoy skiing on our snow.“

No snow-making without skiing industry

No skiing industry without snow-making The rapid development of the snow-making industry is not by chance. The advances in skiing and winter tourism in the past 20 years have demanded a corresponding improvement in snow-making facilities. Skiing began as a leisure activity in the 18th century, with the invention of the Telemark ski. Prior to that, skis were used as a means of transportation. The first attempts to replicate natural snow were made in the 1930s when skiing had already been designated as an Olympic sport. Although the origins of skiing and technical snow-making are completely different, they are inextricably bound together. Without the skiing industry there would have been no technical snow-making, and equally without technical snow-making the skiing industry phenomenon would not exist.


Snow guns

Mid 18th century



The first attempt to replicate natural snow: in New York during an ice skating exhibition on crushed ice from a brewery.

The American company, York, developed the first fully automated snowmaking system.

1980-85 Around 1940 When investigating the effect of rime ice on jet engines, researchers happened upon the discovery of the basic principle behind snow-making as they sprayed water into a wind tunnel at a low temperature.

A few winters of low snowfall greatly increased the level of snow-making in Scandinavia and the Alps. Snow guns were mainly only used as and where needed to improve the natural covering of snow.

1983 End of the 40s Chance discovery of favorable conditions to produce technical snow. Phillip Tropeano was trying to improve the efficiency of lawn sprinklers, by adding air pressure to the water. In doing so, he discovered that snow was produced at temperatures below freezing point.

1950 The first compressed air snow gun was manufactured in America by Art Hunt, Dave Richey and Wayne Pierce from the “Tey Manufacturing” company.

Walter Rieder and Georg Eisath, TechnoAlpin’s founders, and at the time still operations managers at Obereggen AG (ITA), developed their first fan gun.

Development of the Telemark ski in Norway

Mid 19th century Invention of the wire rope binding in Norway

Around 1890 Development of the Lilienfelder steel sole binding and the “Alpine ski” by Mathias Zdarsky, Austria

1893 The first composite design two-ply wood laminate ski is produced.

1928-29 Development and patenting of steel edges for skiing – Rudolf Lettner, Austria

1945 The first laminated ski made from aluminum with wood core is patented

1949 1990 TechnoAlpin was founded. The market is divided into manufacturers of fan snow guns and snow lances.

The “metal ski” signifies a revolution in ski design – Head, USA


Ski resorts began to steadily increase their investment in technical facilities.

P-Tex, the first ski cover made from polyethylene appears and is an immediate winner compared with other plastic finishes – KOFIX (Karl Kofler), Austria




Installation of Europe‘s first snow-making system in St. Andreasberg/Harz (Germany) with Larchmont snow guns.

Snow reliability and slope quality are the primary success factors for a ski resort. Approximately 20 other snow gun producers operate on the market. Snow-making is no longer done as and where needed but across the entire ski resort.

First patent for extreme narrow-waisted ski (“carver ski” under the “Kaninke” name) – Zvonje Debeljak, Slovenia

1964 Fritz Jakob from Austria, inventor and founder of the Linde company, registered his snowmaking patent. For a long time, Linde (Austria) was Europe’s sole snow gun manufacturer.

1969 Hedco from the USA began mass producing fan guns.

From 2000

2010 Efficiency and resource management are the main issues of snow-making technology. Snow reliability proves to be the true life insurance for ski resorts.

Around 1968 Composite designs from different materials (plastic, aluminum, wood) rapidly gained popularity; these materials are still the basic materials used in ski construction today.

1991 First carver ski appears on the market.

1997 The carver ski is accepted as the standard ski.



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TechnoAlpin backstage

Organization is everything TechnoAlpin operates in 42 countries and currently has around 950 customers. 150 people are employed in the head ofďŹ ce in Bozen, with an additional 100 employees in subsidiaries or as commercial partners of TechnoAlpin. All snow guns are produced and tested in Bolzano. They are then transported all over the world. On this scale, good organization is essential. Here is some information on each of the TechnoAlpin Bozen departments.

Research and Development Since it was first founded, the Research and Development department has been the heart of the company. We partner with universities and institutions to carry out cutting edge research in order to produce ever better products. Continuous new developments and improvements are essential to meet the demands of lift operators and skiers. The winter months are used to carry out comprehensive testing. Once the new machine or component prototypes pass the difficult test runs, they can then be put into production. Production only begins once orders have been placed, and this necessitates a high level of co-operation between all of the different departments in the snow experts’ offices.


Sales Department The first point of contact for the customer is the project Sales person. They collect all information and documents for the project and forward it to their colleagues in the Supply and Planning department.

Supply and Planning Projects are then developed based on the Sales team‘s information. In conjunction with Project Management and Sales, the technical components of the snow-making range, as well as the hydraulic and electrical components of the pump and compressor station are specified. This information is used to generate a general project plan, the basis for a proposal complete with pricing information.

System construction technical drawing The TechnoAlpin design team creates what are known as general project plans. These consist of layout plans of snow-making systems, engine rooms and field installations. They commit the project managers‘ and sales team’s specifications to paper. A simple plan can be created within a few hours, several days are required for a complex project.

Project management in system construction Project managers are responsible for the operational planning and management of the project. Following submission of the order, the project manager is the primary customer contact. They

issue assembly instructions and assign tasks. They create parts lists for the Purchasing department based on the proposal. The project manager bears the responsibility for meeting goals, deadlines and cost targets in the implementation of the project. They regularly visit the construction department and sometimes also assume management of construction. Furthermore, they are responsible for occupational safety in the construction department and they assemble the team. The project manager assumes responsibility for the commissioning of systems and for customer training.

ATASS - programmers ATASS is the management system used to control the snow-making systems. The visualization software was developed and programmed entirely by TechnoAlpin. This means that TechnoAlpin is not dependent on third party suppliers which affords them a great degree of flexibility. The software is customized appropriately for each system and is continuously improved. In addition to ongoing software development, programmers also carry out installations, tests and commissioning of the software on-site.

PLC programmers in system construction PLC means Programmable Logic Controller. The PLC programmers design the control program in the pumping station and valve shelters and are responsible for the interaction with the ATASS control system. In the process the software is customized to the particular mechanical and electrical conditions. The pump stations are automated through the PLC control system.


TechnoAlpin backstage Technical Purchasing The Technical Purchasers are responsible for obtaining goods of an agreed quality, quantity, lead time and cost. They work in close partnership with the Research & Development department on the ordering of prototypes and in searching for new suppliers and technologies.

snow guns. Depending on the manufacturing step, a differentiation is made between pre-assembly, sub-assembly or final assembly. Following completion of the snow gun, each machine undergoes testing. (More detailed information on the individual work stations is available in the article: How to make a snow gun.)

Customer service pump stations Order management and dispatching in the Logistics department The Logistics team’s core responsibility is to input and monitor orders, to organize transport at the different construction sites and to coordinate between warehousing and shipping. All snow guns are produced in Bolzano before being shipped all over the world. Impassable streets and import restrictions are therefore always a challenge. This year for example, TechnoAlpin installed a fully automated system in Iran. To do so the systems had to be transported 4,997 kilometers through nine different countries.

The customer service technicians carry out repair work on the pump stations, fixing hydraulic and mechanical faults. Their responsibilities include hydraulics commissioning, installation, assembly, testing, maintenance and servicing of the pump station. They are therefore specialists in pump stations.

Customer service technician These technicians on the other hand perform repair work on snow guns. Their responsibilities include hydraulics commissioning, installation, assembly, testing, maintenance and servicing of the snow guns.


Everything under one roof

The Order Management and Logistics department submits the orders directly to the Project Manager. The components and units are assembled in the Production department to build the finished

All the employees will be back under one roof in the new headquarters. This means that in future, co-operation and communication between the departments will be even smoother.


How to make a fan gun? “Snow guns” – that is the first thing that most people think of when the topic of snowmaking comes up. However snow guns are just the visible part of the snow-making system. At 10%, they represent only a small part of the investment cost. The largest part of the snow-making system is underground and is composed of the water, air pressure and power supply infrastructure. Before snow can be generated, a complete system is required consisting of a water supply, pumps, compressors, piping, filling stations, power supply systems and controls. These components vary from system to system; every ski resort is different, so no two systems are exactly the same. The standard products are the snow guns that are manufactured in the production plant in Bolzano. Let us pull back the curtains and show you how a fan gun is built.


TechnoAlpin‘s snow guns are built on modern assembly lines. The assembly is carried out in individual steps starting from scratch, additional components are added until finally the complete machine is ready. The mechanical stand is put together first. The turbines, nozzle ring, the electric cabinet, the compressor, the valve blocks and the additional components are installed in stages. Test beds are integrated in the assembly line, within which the structural components are continuously subjected to machine and pressure tests. If a fault manages to slip through, we notice it immediately and prevent it from continuing on the production chain.

Once all the components are assembled, the wiring and electrical work can begin. Up to now, the large parts are put together mechanically. Now the individual parts must be connected electronically. Additionally, the central water connection must be integrated. Once this work is complete, the machines are subjected to a comprehensive electrical test. Afterwards, the machine is tested in actual operating conditions in the water test. As a final step the cover is added. Within a short period of time, a complete fan gun is produced, passing through the different stages of the assembly lines. Approximately 20,000 snow guns (fan guns and lances) have been produced in the manufacturing unit in Bolzano in the last 20 years.


Water and air nothing else


Formation of natural snow Both natural and technical snow consist exclusively of the elements water and air. Finely condensed droplets of water form in clouds through the cooling and oversaturation of atmospheric air. At very low temperatures, small ice crystals are formed and are drawn to the ground by gravity. As they fall through different layers of air over the course of several minutes, ice crystals grow and form snow crystals. The snow crystals mass together to form snow flakes.

Basic principles behind snow-making technology Exactly in the same way as natural snow, technical snow consists purely of water and air. The only difference is that technical snow is produced by a machine. It is therefore incorrect to talk of “synthetic snow”. Synthetic snow is in fact plastic or polystyrene snow made for the theater or films. The correct term for snow made from snow-making equipment is “technical snow”. Technical snow is produced by replicating natural snow formation and is therefore chemically identical: Water in a solid form. The difference between natural snow and technical snow is in the

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crystalline form. Technical snow is created practically at groundlevel, not in the clouds. The physical conditions at ground level are different. In addition to favorable weather conditions, the following requirements are needed to create technical snow: Water must be nebulized to just the right sized droplets. These droplets must be join up with the frozen nuclei, known as nuclides. The flight path of the droplets must be long enough to ensure complete freezing. Technical snow should be as close as possible to natural snow. In practice, this means that technical snow should be as dry as possible to prevent icy slope conditions.

Building construction in progress

A new building arises

A birthday gift for the staff In only a few years the number of TechnoAlpin employees in the headquarters in Bolzano has doubled. It is no wonder then that the office in Via Copernico is no longer big enough. A new building project was undertaken. After many years of planning, the foundation stone for the new building was laid on the 12 March 2009. Now, only 1½ years later, the new head office is ready.

11.03.2009 The site before construction

12.03.2009 Groundbreaking

20.03.2009 Removal of topsoil

01.04.2009 Demolition of an existing building

07.05.2009 Start of excavation work 08.05.2009 Completion of the excavation work

16.06.2009 Foundations are poured


15.05.2009 Cranes ready to start

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30.06. - 24.07.2009 Foundations are created 27.07.2009 The floor is poured 19.08.2009 The building grows...

31.08.2009 ...and grows... 06.08.2009 The first walls are built

17.09.2009 The warehouse is almost arisen 25.09.2009 With five cranes it is five times faster 08.09.2009 ..and grows. The first walls of the ground floor are built

21.12.2009 The space division already started in the lower floors

18.12.2009 The office building is under way 10.02.2010 The basic structure is built

07.04.2010 Beginning of April the first windows are installed 13.05.2010 The works on the facade are running at full speed

13.05.2010 The offices are already there

21.05.2010 Detail works can begin

09.07.2010 The facility is there

29.07.2010 Last work to be completed

The pictures


TechnoAlpin’s 20th anniversary

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„Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.“ Albert Camus


SNOW EXPERTS CONTENTS 3 2 20 years of TechnoAlpin20yearsofTechnoAlpin Happy Winter Sports Enthusiasts!HappyWinterSportsEnthusiasts! Georg Ei...

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