Utility Vehicles Play Vital Role in Florida Community Grounds Department
Part 3 of a 3-part article on fleet management
As the Pelican Bay fleet evolves to meet the varied needs of the community and its many elements, Bolick finds more ways to tap into the versatility of utility vehicles to meet those needs.
“We rely heavily on utility vehicles,” he says. “We use the utility vehicles to spray lakes and for spraying turf and ornamentals. This year, we bought a pull-behind mower (an attachment for utility vehicles) to cut lake banks with because I wanted to keep the riding mowers off the banks.”
The remoteness of some parts of the community play into the adaptability of utility vehicles.
“Not everything in Pelican Bay is accessible by truck,” Bolick says. “Some places, we have to have utility vehicles. With some of the areas on the beach that we have to maintain, that’s the only way we can access them.”
Electricity-powered vehicles might soon become a part of Bolick’s fleet as the department seeks to address sustainability. Bolick says he used electric vehicles during his last job as grounds manager with a South Carolina hospital. Using electric vehicles in a community setting presents challenges familiar to grounds managers who have considered purchasing the vehicles for other uses.
“The use of electric vehicles is limited, due to battery life, speed, and load and carrying capacities,” he says. “On some of our utility vehicles, we carry 100-gallon sprayers, and electric power is not as efficient as using gas and diesel-powered utility vehicles. We are looking at purchasing electric utility vehicles to access lakes on the golf course because they are quiet and minimize noise.”
When a vehicle in Bolick’s fleet requires maintenance, the Collier County fleet management department provides inspection and repair services. Because crews use the machines frequently and often handle multiple tasks daily, open communication between the staffs is essential to ensure the machines return to action quickly.
“If it’s something we know about that we can tell them ahead of time that we’re going to need parts for, I tell them to let me know when the parts are in, and we’ll bring it in ahead of time,” Bolick says. “But if it’s something in need of repair and we can’t wait, we just have to hope they get it in as soon as possible.”
As he continues to evaluate fleet needs, Bolick works closely with staff members to seek their input before making decisions about purchasing new equipment.
“I have two supervisors that I rely on quite a bit for their input, as well as different crew members,” Bolick says. “My electrician, I certainly involve him on the vehicle he uses and ask what he needs. (Purchasing vehicles) depends on what the piece of equipment is, but with all the interested parties, I want to get their input on it.”