Lift Makers Show Off New Products at Interalpin

The biennial Interalpin conference kicked off today in Innsbruck, Austria with alpine technology brands showcasing their latest and greatest to customers.  I am just following from afar but this year’s show is already proving to be monumental with major new products and initiatives being unveiled.

Leitner launched a redefined 2S gondola which is being positioned as an economical middle ground between a monocable lift and a 3S.  The reimagined bicable gondola utilizes standard monocable drive components, tensioning systems and cabins but with a single track rope added.  This allows lifts to traverse much longer spans with more cabins than a standard gondola system.

The terminals are of modular design with the exterior designed by Pininfarina.  A new carriage utilizes synthetic rollers and takes cues from the popular LPA grip.  On the lattice-style towers, sheaves are isolated for vibration dampening and track ropes rest on synthetic profiles.  Leitner has also developed a new system for track rope slipping which it calls “simple, safe and time saving.”  I find this product exciting as 3S gondolas are simply too expensive for many operators, as evidenced by their complete lack of adoption in the United States.

Leitner also showed off its next generation premium chair called Evo.  It comes with three bubble color options, three bar styles and two different kinds of upholstered seats.

Leitner has a new touchscreen and tablet control system called Leitcontrol, designed to interface seamlessly with its existing Leitdrive and DirectDrive products.  All three are designed and manufactured in house by Leitner.

The Doppelmayr Garaventa Group has a massive booth anchored by its brand new 3S cabin called Atria.  Building on the success of Taris, Atria features electromechanical doors, full height glazed windows, USB charging ports and indirect lighting.  The cabins can comfortably carry up to 32 passengers with a variety of sports equipment carrying options.

Like with the recently-introduced Omega V, the cabin suspension is now integrated into the ceiling for a sleeker look.  “New technology, modularity and premium materials round off this cabin of superlatives,” notes CWA.  “It has been created for ropeway operators who want to give their passengers an exceptional ride experience with maximum vision.”

The first 3S systems to go into operation with Atria cabins will be the 3K Kaprun-Kitzsteinhorn-Konnection in Austria at the end of November 2019 and the Eiger Express in Jungfrau, Switzerland in December 2020.

Doppelmayr also unveiled its Smart Ropeway initiative.  Rather than a product of its own, Smart Ropeway is the company’s strategic approach to digital technology across all of its products.  As the video below shows, things like wireless device charging, in window digital displays and individual carrier communication are part of Doppelmayr’s vision for the future.  Visitors to the booth can check out the Doppelmayr Connect control system and a new rope position detection system called Nexo.

The seven month old Omega V is also a star of the show, surrounded by some crazy audiovisual theatrics.

Smaller lift companies LST Ropeways and Bartholet are also at the show along with component manufacturers such as Fatzer, Chairkit, Frey and Teufelberger Redaelli.

I will be sure to update this post with any new developments as Interlpin runs for two more days.  While the spectacle won’t return for two years, the similar Mountain Planet show is scheduled for next April in Grenoble, France.

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20 thoughts on “Lift Makers Show Off New Products at Interalpin

  1. Chris Stoddard May 8, 2019 / 11:58 am

    Don’t call them safety bars. Instead they are restraining bars as noted in the national standard.

    Like

  2. Collin Parsons May 8, 2019 / 12:43 pm

    Big Sky getting Smart Ropeway on their gondola. Calling it now.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. themav May 8, 2019 / 1:13 pm

    Let’s all just hop on an airplane to Austria!
    Looking at the website, it appears that anyone can go-not just industry personnel-which is neat.

    Like

    • Chris May 9, 2019 / 9:48 am

      If you do say hello! Still beautiful skiing at the glaciers around here.

      Like

    • Jamie May 9, 2019 / 4:45 am

      It’s an evolution of that LPA 6 design (I’m guessing that’s why it’s called EVO).

      The suspension is slightly different, with spring dampeners instead of rubber, and there used to be a gap where the chair number is now placed.

      Most of the things mentioned in that video are slight modifications, for example, on the LPA 6 chair the central footrests would dig in to the edge of the seat.

      The headrests were already a premium option on the LPA 6.

      Like

      • reaperskier May 9, 2019 / 4:48 am

        Why isnt orange a bubble color option on the evo?

        Like

        • Jamie May 9, 2019 / 9:43 am

          Good point. Worth noting that Doppelmayr only released their D-line DCD chair in blue or clear – no yellow or orange.

          I’m guessing it might be to cut down on production costs by eliminating unnecessary production lines. That said, if somebody really wanted an orange chair, and is willing to pay for its production, I reckon both companies would produce it.

          Like

    • Jamie May 9, 2019 / 10:04 am

      I never liked 2S lifts very much, but I do find this very interesting as it opens up new possibilities.

      The funitel was previously a sort of ‘middle ground’ between the monocable and tricable gondola, but it’s high operating and maintenance costs have made it unpopular. Worth pointing out that because it has fixed cables, the 2S can probably achieve longer spans than the funitel, but the wind resistance may not be as good (although they might be able to put a lot of ballast in the 2S cabins). I think this could be a good replacement for the funitel.

      Doppelmayr stopped producing 2S lifts many years ago, I wonder if this might force them to make something similar.

      Like

      • Thomas Jett May 9, 2019 / 4:45 pm

        Gonna have to disagree on the Funitel being a middle ground. Funnels were introduced in the late 90s to serve as ultra-high-capacity gondolas with wind stability. However, it was always way more expensive than gondolas were, and fell into the same ‘tier’ of lifts that a tram would. Where a tram’s strength was its ability span terrain, the Funitel was a people-eater. The only American example would be Squaw’s Gold Coast (1998), which runs at 4,032 pp/h. The last independent Funitel system (by which I mean to exclude additional stages) opened at St. Anton in 2006. By contrast, the first 3S opened in Val d’Isere in 2002. Admittedly, the initial purpose of the 3S seemed be to serve as a high-capacity tram. However, given that the 3S had a higher line speed and was capable of vastly longer spans, with roughly comparable capacities and price points, it essentially replaced the Funitel. There’s a reason that nobody’s built a new one since 2006. 2S gondolas, on the other hand, have pretty much always been a thing. Stateside, I know that Mammoth’s old gondola was 2S, and that was built in 1968. For a more modern example, you can look at Kreuzeckbahn (2002) at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which spans 2302m over two intermediate towers and a breakover.

        Like

        • Jamie May 10, 2019 / 4:52 am

          I’m not saying 2S lifts would replace funitels in terms of exact function, but the funitel was a middle ground lift, and since its relative absence there has not been one.

          The first 3S opened in 1991 in Saas Fee, although it wasn’t until after Doppelmayr took over Von Roll and improved them they became popular.

          The first functional funitel opened two years earlier in 1989 in Val Thorens. It took a similar amount of time for them to become popular.

          Funitels and 3S lifts were in production alongside each other for some time.

          The 3S was designed to combine a tram’s capabilities and a gondola’s capacity. The funitel was a high capacity gondola capable of medium spans and quite strong wind, pretty much between the mono and tricable. The funitel’s construction costs were (and still are) somewhere between the mono and tricable.

          The funitel’s bad operating economics have meant 3S lifts have been built where a funitel might have been more suitable.

          It’s very true that 2S lifts have always been around, but they were effectively the 3S lift’s predecessor, and in recent years they have fallen out of popularity to the point where Doppelmayr stopped offering them years ago (bear in mind the funitel is still available even though nobody is buying them).

          Like

    • themav May 9, 2019 / 10:39 am

      I wonder how long (or if) someone in North America will order the 2S system. Even though it will be cheaper than a 2S or Funitel system, my guess is that most ski areas will just stick to their monocable gondolas. However, with the cost of entry lowered, some of the big resorts might bite.

      Like

  4. Doppelmayr FTW May 9, 2019 / 8:29 am

    I wonder how they are gonna power those usb ports in the atria cabins, recharging in the terminal will be difficult with everyone plugging their phones into it.

    Like

    • Doppelmayr FTW May 9, 2019 / 8:32 am

      also Ramcharger 8 at 2:07 in the SMART ropeways video.

      Like

    • Collin Parsons May 9, 2019 / 9:08 am

      I’d think solar panels or a generator powered off the track rope sheaves.

      Like

    • V3 May 9, 2019 / 9:38 am

      The cabins are powered by a generator/alternator connected to one of the track rope wheels on the 3S carriage.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mike N May 10, 2019 / 9:13 am

    Peter, you need to do a GoFundMe to raise money to attend the next Interalpin and Mountain Planet. I bet you could raise enough funds through your followers on here to go to these conventions for yourself. Great post! Thanks as always!

    Liked by 1 person

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