Discussions of mowing equipment certainly have incorporated many elements of sustainability in recent years. But for all of the talk about going green and the environment, managers continue to focus on the most important consideration for their departments and facilities.
"Generally, there has not been a huge shift in the sorts of things managers want to know and need to know for their operations," Garvey says. "The one thing that never changes is that managers want to know what will be best to accomplish their tasks. What will reduce labor and operating costs and downtime?"
When managers do ask questions about the impact of green on mowers, they tend to focus on several key issues related to practical considerations.
"We don't get many questions on noise level, though we do have a very big export market, where we face much lower noise restrictions than in the U.S., such as in the European Union," he says. "Here, everybody is particular about alternative fuels — what's available, how well they perform, whether or not they're practical, those sorts of things. It boils down to what's best for their operations and what's practical."
In many cases, the questions from potential customers, along with ongoing attention to green issues, have prompted manufacturers to revisit and rethink the impact of their manufacturing processes on the environment.
"We have more customers who want to know our company more in-depth," Garvey says. "So manufacturing processes as they apply to quality and the environment are becoming more important to our customers.
"Sustainability in one form or another has always been a core philosophy of what we do, and it's always been crucial to our design criteria. We've always focused on high performance and long service life. So really, for us, the task at hand has been to develop educational materials so customers can evaluate the environmental impact of their equipment choices so they can make knowledgeable decisions."
In the case of The Toro Co., the company has developed a research group on turf management, including customers and leading researchers, that "explores new technologies that deliver environmental benefits while not compromising performance and productivity for customers," says Paula Sliefert of Toro.
As a result, the company has been able to develop products in recent years that increase productivity, save water, and reduce fuel use. The group also is exploring future innovations related to sustainability that include fuel cells and advanced battery technologies, Sliefert says.
The Mower-Sustainability Connection
Mowers and Sustainability: Understanding Facility Needs
Mowers and Sustainability: Issues on the Horizon