Highlights from the 2020 Smithers Winter Testing Season

Highlights from the 2020 Smithers Winter Testing Season

A brief Q&A about the 2020 season at the Smithers Winter Test Center with General Manager Sean Connolly and Senior Project Engineer Eric Pierce.

What were some of the big highlights from this season?

It was an unusually warm winter, but we did get a lot of snow as early as October. Almost all of our clients completed all of their work, some earlier than expected.
We passed a significant audit that moved us one step closer to our goal of adding semi truck snow acceleration tests to our ISO 17025 accreditation. We also hosted a special demo with Pirelli, Mercedes Benz, and Dealer Tire. 

Have you added any new testing capabilities?

As mentioned above, we’re working to get some new tests added to our ISO 17025 accreditation so we can meet our clients’ needs. We’re focused specifically on tests that allow truck and bus radial (TBR) tires to qualify for the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol. This symbol indicates that a tire is service-rated for severe snow conditions. TBR tires earn the symbol by following the European standard UN ECE R117 or ISO 18106. Retread TBR tires must follow UN ECE R109. We’ve been working to create internal procedures and modifications to our traction testing vehicles to comply with this testing. Our goal is to add all three of these tests – UN ECE R117, ISO 18106, and UN ECE R109 – to our accreditation during our A2LA audit in August.
As far as surface grooming, we started measuring snow compaction at least once a day at ten different points across the traction testing field so we can ensure track consistency and get a better sense of track changes over time. 

What other improvements did you make this year?

Most of our changes were made with the safety of our clients and team members in mind. We invested in a new Raiko icebreaker so we could groom surfaces after ice storms more efficiently and get our clients back on the track quickly and safely. We also used the Raiko to break up ice in the parking lots, which has saved us a lot of slips and falls.
We added a snowbank around Area 27, which is a shared use packed snowfield.
Lastly, we created a bird’s-eye view ramp for our safety vehicle, which gives our team a better vantage point for surveying the track to ensure efficient and safe traffic flow.

Anything fun to share?

Ford released two videos for the new Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is an all-electric vehicle. Segments of both videos were filmed here at the Smithers Winter Test Center. Of course, we’ve been proud to offer daily food options from Karl’s Cuisine and Sugar Daddy Bakery at our event center for a few years, but this year we added something new to the lineup: Flannigan’s Goat. Their food truck came by a few times a week, and it was a huge hit. People would line up in the cold to wait for it. Our team agreed that we are particularly partial to their pulled pork with shells and cheese. We look forward to bringing them back next year.

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