ASH Group presents future trends in municipal technology up close at an altitude of 2500 metres
On Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, things calm down every year from November onwards. This is when the winter closure takes effect and the Grossglockner High Alpine Road – one of the most beautiful panoramic routes in Europe – is then no longer open to traffic due to the snow masses that accumulate. This is the case until the 48 km mountain pass comes out of hibernation and is made ready for the new season in the spring. This year this was heralded from 20 – 22 April as part of the “Professionals at the top” expert conference. For three whole days, the 1638 metres from the valley up to Fuscher Törl were very much the focus of future municipal trends.
More than 850 guests from all over the world had taken up the invitation extended by the ASH Group. They included decision-makers from airports, motorway maintenance authorities, municipal services and agricultural technology companies. This is because whether it involves de-icing or winter road maintenance, street cleaning or looking after green spaces, the days of handling a particular section in a specific period of time with a gritting vehicle or road sweeper are long gone. The requirements for municipal services are becoming ever more complex, and at the same time levels of traffic on roads and motorways are increasing. So there are high expectations – not just of the drivers, but also of the equipment that is used.
The performance capability of machinery and equipment has developed at a rapid pace in recent years. But which products are the right ones for the particular applications? How can intuitive control technologies help to improve road safety and comfort for drivers? Why do functionality and ergonomics not contradict one another, or what benefits does real-time communication between the vehicle and the central control centre offer? The people attending the expert conference were able to see the answers to these questions and many other things besides up close and under real conditions.
The event began with the opening of the congress in the National Park Worlds centre in Mittersill. The motto was to immerse oneself in the Hohe Tauern National Park world of experiences. As well as a 360° cinema, a glacier world and a mountain forest gallery, guests were also able to enjoy a very special talk. Wisi Zgraggen, a farmer from Erstfeld in Switzerland, revealed how his life had suddenly changed following an accident at work in which he lost both his arms and how in spite of this he never gave up his independence. “There’s no such thing as can’t do!” – he has adopted this resolute approach in living his life ever since and he also appealed to the guests who were present: “There is no shame in falling over as long as you get back up again.” Wisi Zgraggen presented impressive pictures to illustrate how Aebi converted a Terratrac TT280 specifically to cater for his needs. For example, he is now able to steer the vehicle with his feet and uses a special control panel to call up all of the functions and controls.
On the second day of the event, there was a concentrated focus on technology for the attendees. Around 50 vehicles and pieces of equipment from the areas of winter maintenance, municipal summer maintenance and agricultural technology were on live display in the different specialist exhibitions. While in the town of Fusch at the bottom of the Grossglockner mountain there was the opportunity to enjoy test drives in Aebi transporters, Combicuts or Terratracs, up at the Ferleiten toll station there were snow clearance and gritting vehicles, road sweepers and attachments for tractors or commercial vehicles. The highlight for many of the visitors was live demonstrations of various winter maintenance vehicles at an altitude of almost 2500 metres at Fuscher Törl. Moving vast snow masses with ease and throwing it up to 40 metres wide – this was no problem for the two snow cutter blowers Schmidt Supra 4002 and 5002 or the Claas Xerion tractor with a Schmidt FS 110 snow cutter blower. The multitalented Mercedes-Benz Unimog appeared with various attachments such as the S 3.1 lateral snow blower, the FS 105 snow cutter blower or the VF-Z snow cutter. Together with a Steyr tractor and an Aebi TT280, which were also equipped with snow cutter blowers, the professional winter maintenance vehicles once again threw up an impressive amount of snow at the end of the choreographed display and put on an impressive show.
The winter symposium also provided an opportunity to swap experiences and gain practical insights. The themes covered included the useful lifespan of de-icing salts, the role of weather forecasts in winter maintenance and the possible options for using data mining. The operator of the largest air hub in Europe, London Heathrow Airport, also gave a glimpse behind the scenes and talked about the various challenges of delivering sustainable winter maintenance in the airport sector. Besides experts from the ASH Group with points of contact for the Aebi, Schmidt, Tellefsdal, Nido and DMi brands, partners from Mercedes-Benz Unimog, Claas, MAN, VW, Steyr, Scania, Lufft, Mulag, RUD and ASFT were also available to answer the visitors’ questions.
“We can reflect on a successful symposium held in an impressive setting which will live long in the memory not least thanks to the tremendous support from Grossglockner Hochalpenstrassen AG and the community of Fusch with mayor Hannes Schernthaner,” says Rudi Rosenkamp, CCO of the ASH Group. “We demonstrated what man and machine are capable of and showed how important it is to have visions. For as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once identified: “Your task is not to foresee the future, but enable it.” And our daily aspiration is also to shape the future direction of our product range today because it is not enough just to identify the latest trends. We have to deliver them at the right time for deployment with our customers. At the same time, this transforms our advantage to your benefit.”