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Unusual running noises at the "Greppon Blanc 1" ski lift
Safe and uninterrupted operation of the lifts is of central importance for a ski region. If the failure of a ski lift is threatened by a technical defect, rapid action must be taken. This calls for the know-how and rapid deployment of the service crew of Alfred Imhof AG.
Increased temperature at the gearbox
The call reached Alfred Imhof AG on 4 March 2019 at 17.59 hrs. The responsible persons of Nendaz-Veysonnaz Remontées mécaniques SA (NVRM) noticed unusual running noises at the ski lift "Greppon Blanc 1" as well as an increased temperature at the gearbox and informed the company Baco AG from Steffisburg, which is responsible for the service of the ski lifts. Since they did not want to risk the safety of the skiers or a prolonged interruption of operations, Alfred Im-hof AG was asked for a quick analysis and diagnosis.
The next morning, specialists from Alfred Imhof AG met for a meeting. It quickly became clear that a vibration measurement, an oil analysis, a thermography and an endoscopy were necessary on site in order to make a meaningful diagnosis. In the next step, Alfred Imhof AG prepared an offer for the on-site investigations.
Analysis in the ski resort
After the customer had approved the offer, Rainer Trumpp and Markus Reinger drove to Nendaz on the same day. From there, the two technicians drove on to the valley station of the ski resort in Siviez with an all-wheel-drive vehicle, special work clothes for use in the cold and eight suitcases with special tools. After the ride with the gondola to the intermediate station, they traversed by snowmobile to the valley station of the "Combatseline" ski lift. The two experienced employees of Alfred Imhof AG carried out a detailed problem analysis. The result was that several teeth were broken on the bevel pinion and several teeth were defective on the second gear stage. For safety reasons, the ski lift was initially only allowed to operate at a reduced rate.
Bernhard Salzgeber, Head of technology and operations at NV Remontées Mécaniques SA
With Alfred Imhof AG, we experienced a very good cooperation with competent people who responded directly to our wishes. Despite problems with the weather, we were able to achieve our goal of putting the ski lift back into operation the following weekend. This is proof of the speedy work of Alfred Imhof AG. I would like to thank Imhof for the fact that we were able to put the lift back into operation after a 6-day break for a beautiful and snowy weekend.
Nendaz-Veysonnaz Remontées Mécaniques SA
NV Remontées mécaniques SA manage the ski areas of Nendaz and Veysonnaz as well as the altutude restaurants of Tracouet, Balavaux, Combatseline, Plan du Fou and Tortin.
- More than 6000'000 skier days per season
- 28 lifts installations
- 5 altitude restaurants
- 54 employees a year, 270 in the winter season
- 410 km of slopes (4 Valleys)
- 150 snow cannons
- 19 grooming machines
- 40 vehicles and intervention machines
Spare parts had to be flown in from Finland
According to Rainer Trumpp, it turned out on Wednesday morning that there were only two possible solutions for solving the problem: "The customer had the choice between a replacement gearbox and a revision". However, the variant with the replacement gearbox was out of the question, as the delivery would have taken far too long and the operation of this important ski lift would have had to be discontinued for a longer period of time. Since the ski season was still in full swing, the only solution was two-fold: a quick overhaul with replacement of the defective parts. In order to ensure prompt delivery of the spare parts from Finland, the order was already placed on Thursday morning.
Helicopters in action
For logistical and organisational reasons, the defective parts could not be removed from the ski area and replaced by the new ones. This was only possible at the headquarters of Alfred Imhof AG in Münchenstein. After professional disposal of the 99 litre transmission oil, the customer removed the 1.3 tonne transmission together with the service partner of the cable car manufacturer on Tuesday, 12 March 2019 and flew it by helicopter to the valley station in Siviez. From there, the complete transmission was immediately transported by jeep and trailer to Münchenstein. The repair was carried out on Wednesday and Thursday by experts from Alfred Imhof AG before the gearbox was repainted to protect it from corrosion. After the functional tests, the repaired gearbox was picked up by the customer on Thursday at 3 p.m. and transported back to its destination.
Installation of the revised gear unit
On Friday, the helicopter flew the transmission from the valley station of the ski resort back to the ski lift, where it was reinstalled by NVRM employees and the two service personnel of Alfred Imhof AG. After commissioning and handover to the customer, the ski lift was able to resume operations as usual.
The interruption of operations lasted six days. This was a long time for a ski resort that wanted to transport its customers. But according to Peter Baumgartner, product manager at Alfred Imhof AG, this was the fastest possible solution under the given circumstances: "The spare parts had to be flown in from Finland and installed in our workshop. Thanks to our many years of know-how in the ropeway industry, we were able to react quickly and competently to the advice, problem analysis, solution finding and rectification we received. The railway operator put the safety of its passengers first and accepted the interruption of operations lasting several days. The reason why the teeth are broken after an operating period of just over eight years is currently the subject of investigation."