Mower selection tends to focus on finances and performance, but managers also need to pay close attention to two issues that relate to equipment operators – safety and ergonomics.The Toro Co.
Focus on Maintenance Requirements During Mower Selection
By paying attention to a mower’s ease of maintenance and track record of reliability, managers can avoid problems.
No one will argue that the initial cost of big-ticket grounds equipment is perhaps the most important factor in a grounds managers’ ultimate purchasing decision. Managers pay nearly as much attention to such essential factors as versatility and power during the purchase process.
For as much as managers focus on the initial cost of a mower, a host of often overlooked but equally important factors – reliability, safety, ergonomics and life-cycle cost – often are central to purchasing a mower than delivers long-term performance.
Focus on maintenance
Mowers aren’t much good if they don’t run reliably. Operator productivity drops, repair costs rise and managers are forced to revise schedules to work around equipment downtime. By paying attention to a mower’s ease of maintenance and track record of reliability, managers can avoid these problems. Luckily for managers, mower manufacturers have designed new-generation products to address these issues.
“Decreasing maintenance time is one of the biggest improvements in mower technology,” says Tom Vachal, senior turf product manager with Kubota Tractor Corp. “The increase in productivity and decrease in maintenance through technological advancements are the two biggest things helping turf professionals get the most out of their equipment.”
The process begins with the manufacturer.
“First and foremost, look at the reputation of the brand and the infrastructure it has to support it,” says Brian Schoenthaler, marketing specialist with Grasshopper. “Is it a commercial grade mower? Is there a servicing dealer nearby to back you up with loaners and parts?”
Next, managers need to take a deeper dive into the materials and parts.
“Managers should look at the mower components that have high wear potential and review what the materials are, as most OEMs list critical features,” says Ron Scheffler, senior product manager with Bobcat Co. “Other areas on the mower that should be reviewed are potential high-impact areas where gauge thickness and other durability concerns can be addressed prior to purchase. When it comes to maintenance, managers should ensure that mowers have easy access points and quick removable components for faster cleaning and turnaround times.”
In many cases, this phase of the purchasing process will focus on parts that are most vulnerable to breakdowns.
“Take into account the cost of wear parts, such as spindles, blades and belts,” Schoenthaler says. “Are they easy to replace? Can they be repaired by your shop? Another consideration is cooling fans for the hydrostatic transmissions. A 15-degree decrease in operating temperature will result in a greatly extended transmission life.”
Tony Ferguson, senior product marketing manager with The Toro Co., also advises managers to consider such items as oil and filter change intervals, fluid quantities, routine maintenance requirements, service support, readily available parts and fuel economy.
While researching a mower’s maintenance requirements can reassure managers about long-term reliability, the benefits of such work doesn’t end there.
“To have high sustainability, one needs to be able to maintain their mower without it being too difficult,” Scheffler says. “Quick, easy-to-reach service items and areas aid in ensuring the maintenance gets done and that short-cuts aren’t taken. High-strength alloys on wearable components and structural designs on mower frames and other contact areas will safeguard against short product life.”