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Grounds Equipment and the Fuel Technology Evolution


As grounds managers attempt to balance the needs for equipment versatility, safety, performance, and sustainability, manufacturers continue to roll out new and redesigned products designed to meet these demands. One issue stands out in this process.

"With all of these things, the fuel technology has changed," says Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president of U.S. Lawns, a grounds management franchise company. "Most mower manufacturers now have high-efficiency engines with the electronic ignition, and they tout a 20-30 percent gain in fuel efficiency. You have more and more propane-ready equipment now than you've ever had before. People are paying attention to emissions and noise-pollution standards, so you’re getting products with lower emissions that also run more quietly."

What's driving these changes?

"It's a mix of a number of things," Fitzpatrick says. "Everybody pays attention to fuel usage, and I know we have more customers that are talking about sustainability, particularly if you use propane-converted equipment (and) if you're in a market that has ozone days and ozone restrictions like they do in several markets in Texas. They have that issue in Atlanta some days. You can run propane-powered equipment on ozone days, but you cannot run gasoline-powered equipment on those days."

One result of these changes is that managers must stay abreast of the advances. Mowers in particular have evolved greatly in recent years as manufacturers incorporate new and updated features and functions that seek to accommodate the varying needs of users. One particular change in mowing equipment is the popularity of stand-on mowers.

"You used to see guys running the zero-turn mowers that had the deck under the middle of the mower and the two handles," Fitzpatrick says. "They’re now making a much more compact unit called a stander. The deck is actually a little out front. You're not standing on that skateboard, so to speak, so it's a much more compact machine with a lot more horsepower, and definitely a bigger mowing deck. It takes up less space on a trailer or storage space in a building."

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