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Maintaining landscape and turf areas around institutional and commercial facilities presents year-round challenges for grounds managers and their staffs. From mowing and irrigation to trimming and pruning, departments must perform a series of tasks efficiently in order to keep these areas looking their best. Managers also need to ensure their departments operate cost-effectively in order to use their valuable resources wisely.
Landscape contractors share many of the same challenges facing in-house departments, especially those tied to cost-effectiveness and the never-ending search for new ways to increase operational efficiency. Because of the central role that equipment plays in landscape and turf care, managers need to constantly be on the lookout for improvements in equipment that can improve efficiency. While much of this scrutiny understandably falls on mowing equipment, managers also need to be aware of advances related to the entire range of equipment, such as mini excavators, skid steer loaders, backhoes and utility tractors.
Managers can find additional benefits for their operations by tapping into advances in technology. First and foremost, such advances offer increased productivity and efficiency. Automation in business processes and operations are one of the major benefits of technology in business. Departments can benefit from increased communication through technology applications, as well as the multiple-module technology platforms, and this increase in communication also can increase the agility of work crews in the field.
In terms of equipment advances, battery-operated equipment and mini-skid steers have proven to increase productivity and decrease costs.
Sustainability has become a higher priority for all departments. Some municipalities have enacted laws that require the use of electric battery power over gasoline power for environmental purposes. Some organizations also have specific noise-abatement demands to consider. Battery-powered equipment offers managers opportunities to meet these requirements.
Continuing to focus on making processes and equipment friendlier to the environment and more appealing to in-house customer requirements can offer a double benefit for managers. Advances in electronics and battery power have made this equipment a more viable option for grounds departments that are looking for ways to improve both efficiency and sustainability.
Battery-powered grounds equipment now on the market features interchangeable parts for backpack blowers, edgers, weed eaters, pole saws and chainsaws. This type of equipment uses one battery with a two-hour run time. By using a multitude of batteries and providing enough charging stations, crew can use battery-powered equipment throughout the day by rotating the batteries so that as they are depleted, they can be exchanged and recharged simultaneously. With a quick recharge time to eliminate downtime, a commercial battery of this type can be turned around and completely charged within an hour, which adds efficiency to department operations.
Light-Construction Grounds Equipment Comes of Age