The new Puma® snowmaker has been developed with input from customers, service technicians and sales reps, with a goal of maximizing production over a wide range of conditions, especially in marginal temperatures.
The Puma® was designed to interface with automation and control software for optimum performance in any snowmaking weather. It is equipped with an onboard aspirated weather station, air and water pressure monitoring, and automated flow control. The small flow steps deliver a smooth snowmaking curve, fine-tuning the water volume, air pressure and nucleation to best suit the existing conditions.
Each unit employs a convenient touchscreen panel at eye level for manual control when desired, and the Puma can be configured to communicate with a central computer via hard wire (copper, CAT 5 Ethernet or fiber optic), or by radio. The machine is well-suited to central intelligence (a single computer or control room for all snow guns) or distributed intelligence (some type of computer to manage each snow gun, pod or ski trail).
Thanks to the Puma’s level of automation, operators can raise and lower the barrel or adjust the oscillation arc up to 359° on any number of machines from a central command station, helping to deliver pinpoint control with minimal labor. The result is better snow distribution and reduced man-hours needed for grooming.
With its low, compact center of gravity and ergonomic design, the Puma is easy to use and transport. Components are positioned to make transport via snow cat blade easy and safe, minimizing overhanging load and reducing stress on the blade. Adjustable lifting brackets accommodate all snowgroomer blade designs, and adjustment pins are self-retaining, without lanyards that could be lost or damaged. SMI® has also integrated structural lifting pockets for secure transport by helicopter, as well as an onboard storage box that can house automatic components or miscellaneous tools.
The fully-enclosed design has a lightweight cover that helps trap heat from the compressor to keep all components thawed and operating at peak performance in any weather. The Puma uses a compressor cooling bypass option to help cool the nucleator air in marginal conditions. The bypass is used in cooler temperatures to prevent freezing.
Described as SMI’s most efficient design to date, the Puma delivers fast start-up and shutdown, with the option of true hands-free operation. The onboard aspirated weather station delivers accurate data to the controller for automatic adjustment to changing conditions, ensuring that each machine’s settings are individually optimized for maximum snowmaking.
Like all of SMI’s products, the Puma follows a philosophy of easy operation, transport and maintenance. The units are designed to be user serviceable, with readily available replacement parts.
SMI’s ultimate goal is to provide equipment that allows ski resorts to open earlier in the season, with higher trail counts. The rising levels of automation in designs like the Puma help them do that, and to recover more quickly from bad weather events, so they can stay open longer.