In Size Matters, I wrote about how it’s important to keep an eye on the thickness of your ice. If it’s too thin, it’s dangerous for your users, who can cut through the ice an onto the pad below. If it’s too thick, your ice plant will be working overtime and that’s tough on your equipment — and your energy bills.
One of the operations managers I spoke to after publishing that story told me that one year, he took four week’s worth of holidays. When he came back from having some fun in the sun, he couldn’t believe his eyes. His ice had grown.
Instead of a uniform inch and a half, it had ballooned to over two inches thick.
He went ballistic. As the story goes, that was the last time his ice ever went out of control.
The operations teams have different ways of making sure their ice stays at whatever optimum level they designate for their ice. A common practice is to use markings, such as the height of screws on the kickboard for the perimeter measure, then they’ll drill holes into the ice in a variety of locations and map those measurements down on paper so a plan of attack can be decided upon to even out the ice. Shaving, edging and building will all be part of the mix in trying to get the ice back to level – which is ultimately what everyone who uses your ice is looking for: a smooth, flat surface.
There is an easier, less labour-intensive way. That’s by treating your ice surface to some laser therapy, with Level-Ice.
The laser leveller works in conjunction with the ice resurfacer to automatically adjust the cutting blade as it goes around the ice. The laser sending unit itself is installed within the arena, most likely on a wall, and provides a level ceiling of light that acts as a point of reference for the receiving unit. The receiver unit, installed on the ice resurfacer, receives the readings from the laser sending unit and, based on those readings, makes adjustments to the cutting blade of the conditioner as the resurfacer moves around the ice. At the end, the laser is able to deliver a surface that is perfectly level and to the desired thickness — after every flood.
If you’re looking for a laser solution for your ice resurfacer, it will be supplied by Latec – either as an OEM option on new ice resurfacers, or as stand-alone unit that can be retrofit to an existing resurfacer. When it comes to lasers, Latec is the only supplier for ice resurfacers in North America.
Marty Elliott is the account manager for Latec’s Level-Ice Laser Leveling System. He says by retrofitting your ice resurfacer with Level-Ice, a wide variety of costs immediately start to go down. That includes tangible costs like the lower number of blades your ice resurfacer will now need (a number that Elliott says is cut in half) and the number of sharpenings you’ll be required to do — to more intangible costs like the wear and tear on your ice plant because you’re able to maintain your ice at the thickness you want, nothing more and nothing less. There are other important savings too, like electricity. And manpower.
“We’ve tested and it works out to roughly a 50% decrease in man hours of ice maintenance,” Elliott tells me. “That maintenance ends up being strictly edging and some chipping.” Elliott is at a rink in Wallaceburg, ON where he has an appointment with the operations manager there a bit later this afternoon, and has some time to chat.
“Some facilities end up blocking entire mornings, or an entire day each week from off a rink’s schedule for maintenance,” he says. “With Level-Ice, they can free up that time and use it for on-ice programs instead of maintenance. They’re able to repurpose that ice time for paying customers.”
Elliott says the Level-Ice brand is starting to achieve critical mass.
“People running the rinks are aware of Level-Ice and what it can do for their rink,” he tells me. “We’re always present at the three major trade shows – ORFA, NARCE and ISI – the figure skating group.” He tells me that for figure skaters, a level surface is critical for good jumps to be made.
Elliott says although their market is focused on North America, they have installations overseas, too.
“We just shipped two systems to South Korea for testing leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics,” he says. In addition to rinks all over Canada and the USA adding Level-Ice to their resurfacers, it’s being used in university rinks as well as four NHL rinks: Boston, Carolina, Pittsburg and Buffalo.
Level-Ice Account Manager
Office: 519-235-4585 ext 230