Robot mowers at the Belgian Football Center

The Belgian Football Center: heart of Belgian football

 

The Belgian Football Center is a genuine nerve center of football. It is, as those in charge like to put it, the living, beating heart of Belgian football. Its construction, which began after the European Football Championships in 2000, was completed in September 2016. Each day since then it has accommodated training for women’s, men’s and youth national teams. Besides the national teams the Center also stages all kinds of other events:

 

  • training courses for coaches and referees
  • talent spotting
  • preliminary matches
  • specific training for Belgian clubs and clubs from other countries
  • tournaments

The offices of the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), the Association des Clubs Francophones de Football (ACFF), Voetbal Vlaanderen and the Board of Arbitration are also situated there. The administrative center of the RBFA will also be moving there come 2021.

Such an organization requires a substantial infrastructure, particularly regarding football fields. In fact, the Belgian Football Center has 3 natural turf football fields in maximum dimensions, plus 3 synthetic fields, of which 1 indoor.

 

Robot mowers for perfect football fields

Frederic Veraghaenne, Director of Operations, believes that the decision to automate the mowing of football fields by making use of robots has offered the Association certain advantages:

Better management of groundsmen’s time

The management of 3 football grounds:

  • of maximum dimensions
  • in 100% natural grass
  • with extremely high occupation
  • that must maintain the best possible quality to meet the needs of national teams and the best professionals

requires huge amounts of time and constant monitoring by the Association’s workers. With the introduction of robot mowers that can maintain the pitches on a daily basis and at any time of the day, the work of these crews has been greatly facilitated and the Center is now able to make better use of the time available to each groundsman.

A more ecological, less expensive cut

Since the robot mowers are electric, they produce less CO² and are therefore much less pollutant than conventional mowers that run on diesel. This has a considerable impact for the planet which then also has an effect on spending money on diesel, which is much more expensive than the price of electricity. Mulching also means no longer having to use chemical products on the turf, which further adds to the ecological benefits of robot mowers.

Better quality pitches

A not insignificant detail, the robot mowers make a real difference when it comes to the quality of the pitch. The grass is tougher, deeper rooted, it has a better density and the pitch therefore acquires a better quality, all without using chemical products. In fact, mulching has many advantages and also reduces the presence of felt and the risk of sickness. For the players, it’s a real advantage providing, at any time, a pitch allowing a quality of the game at their level.

Finally, these advantages are even more critical for pitches with frequent use, since a high-quality cut of the pitch reduces the risk of holes or tears.

A connected application for robot mowers

Some manufacturers now offer fully connected robot mowers. The robots are linked to applications that can be used on numerous different devices (computers, tablets, smartphones). For actors such as RBFA this is another set of plus points:

  • Tracking mowers in real time
  • Simultaneous cutting of several grounds
  • Access to cutting statistics
  • Daily logging of obstacles
  • And many other functions

All this allows even better control of the cutting of football fields whilst also checking the activities and condition of the mower.

If you run a sports club or a sports ground, do not hesitate to consult our other articles to find out more about the possibilities of robot mowers!

Transcript of the Video:

The specific feature of our site is that we have 6 grounds, three of which 100% natural grass, with a very high level of occupation. These are grounds of maximum dimensions, which means that we have to manage large surfaces of grass, which demands much hard work from all our crews, and constant monitoring, because we have to produce pitches for professionals of the highest quality, since the Red Devils, the Red Flames and our best youth team players work on these pitches.

 

Having automatic mowers always at the ready allows us to make better use of the time available to our groundsmen. This also allows us to be much more ecological, the mowers are electric, the production of waste is near zero. A robot mower is what makes all the difference in the quality of the field. The grass is stronger, better rooted and has a better density. The pitch is better without the use of chemical products. So, for us, that changes everything, we would never dream of going backwards. Other colleagues from other countries have come to see our installations and I think that they went away convinced. It’s a real value-added on the quality of our pitches.

 

What mattered to us, once we were satisfied with the first generation of machines and within the framework of the partnership between the Belgian Football Association, the National Technical Center and Belrobotics, was moving on to the connected generation. And that’s just what we did, since it’s a natural progression of quality that has allowed us to use the best technologies of a process that suits our purpose.

 

Because you can work simultaneously on each field without moving the mower you can work in real time, you have access to statistics, you have access to online control of the mower, which means that you can work elsewhere while keeping an eye on what’s going on with the robot mower on the field. You know that the machine works silently, that it stops when it meets an obstacle, or goes around it, and that, in case of anything more serious, it will send you an alert and you can then decide whether to take action or to stop the activity.

Connected lawnmower, feedback of experience from the municipality of Beveren

Since we are always eager to give our clients 100% satisfaction, we asked them some precise questions to sound out their opinion on our new range of 100% connected robots. Here, in the form of an interview, is a summary of their answers that is sure to interest anyone with any questions about these connected lawnmowers!

Can you tell us in a few short lines the situation of your municipality as regards the sports grounds to be maintained?

The two grounds managed by the Belrobotics mowers are situated in the municipal sports zone of Beveren. Maintenance of this zone is normally entrusted to Beveren’s green teams. This is quite a responsibility, since these grounds are used for the training of the top football club of Waasland Beveren.

When did you decide to switch to robot mowers?

The sports club has always needed a perfectly trimmed pitch and, unfortunately, we don’t have enough staff for that. The robot mowers help us to solve the problem.

So the whole team were unanimous?

Yes.

What are the main factors that motivated the choice of a robot mower?

The fact of not needing additional staff is a decisive point. The connected aspect that allows us to know where the mower is at any given moment and being informed directly if there happens to be the least problem also swung the decision.

Do you often use the application on web browser? Or on mobile?

We use the application a lot, but also the browser version.

And what do you think of it?

It does the job really well: we’re alerted straight away if anything is wrong.

Do you think the application misses any aspects?

No.

Did anyone explain in detail how you should use it?

Yes indeed.

Is it sufficiently easy to use for the different ground keepers?

Yes.

Since you started using them, what do you think of our connected mowers?

They do their work quite well. However, if we had to make a comment: during the most fertile period the grass sometimes grows fast and, since the mower cuts at random, it sometimes leaves some small patches less neatly trimmed.

If, like Beveren, you are interested by robot lawnmowers and the possibility of freeing up time for your green teams, do not hesitate to contact us or ask us for a free price offer for a robot lawnmower !

Automatic golf course mowers: the experience of High Legh Park Golf Club

One of Cheshire’s finest golf courses

High Legh Park was created in 1998 by Mark James, a professional golfer and member of the team that won the 1995 Ryder Cup! Purchased by Andrew Vaughan in 2011, the golf club has since benefitted from major investments. It now boasts two courses, superb training facilities, a practice course and an American Golf Academy. These numerous assets make it an ideal destination for all golfers and one of the best golf clubs in the Cheshire area.

New robots for enhanced productivity

In their efforts to further develop the club’s various facilities and to boost productivity, its managers identified automation as the best solution. To achieve this, they called in our local distributor, A.M.S (Automated Managed Services). Thanks to their advice, it is not just cutting the grass that has been entrusted to a robot – the club’s golf ball collection has also been automated thanks to the ballpicker. Until now, collecting golf balls has been a very costly exercise for the company and a real headache for employees, as at High Legh golf club, ten to fifteen thousand balls are struck every day! On top of these issues, it was a fairly common occurrence for machines conducting heavier work over the winter to become blocked by lost balls.

It took less than a week for Andrew Vaughan to be well and truly won over by the automated ball picker’s efficiency, not to mention the Bigmow’s performance. The balls are collected from all the golfing areas, even tricky uneven and sloping areas, and its greens are lusher and healthier too.

An efficient robot installation by Belrobotics

Another aspect that seems to have delighted the owner is the quality of the machine’s installation. He praised the professionalism of the technician, who didn’t leave “until he was sure that everything was working perfectly”, along with the availability of the Belrobotics team, who were ready to listen to the slightest problem.

A decision made thanks to another greenkeeper.

Andrew Vaughan doesn’t regret his decision, but he explained to us that he hadn’t been 100% convinced at first, even after viewing the robots at a golf festival. But during a trip to Rotterdam, he encountered a local greenkeeper, whose totally independent recommendation of the system finally convinced him.

If, like Andrew Vaughan, you’re thinking of switching to robot golf mowers, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can guide you towards a tailored package and demonstrate the many economic and technical benefits offered by our solutions!

Professional robot mowers wow the town of Assens

A town pioneering the use of robot mowers

Assens is one of the 98 municipalities that make up Denmark. Located on the west coast of the island of Fyn, it had over 40,000 residents in 2012. It was also one of the first municipalities to invest in a robot mower to take care of the sports fields in its various villages.

It all started with a Parcmow, which was installed at Aarup in 2015 by our local distributor: PN-Maskiner A/S. This experiment proved highly successful, even if a few adaptations had to be made, as in Assens, stone pavers had been used in the corners of the fields. This is not compatible with a robot mower, but when all those regularly using the pitch realised that the grass was being cut much better than with a conventional mower, nobody wanted to turn back!

A constantly growing fleet of professional robots

In 2016, four more robot mowers were added to the Assens fleet, but they didn’t stop there and, in the summer of 2017, five more were purchased, bringing the fleet of Parcmows up to 10!

A groundswoman won over by Belrobotics

In addition to a better quality of cut, the municipality’s sports groundswoman, Elisabeth Bonde, has also noticed that using the Parcmow has generated significant savings for her employer.

In her view, the Belrobotics robots do a good job and function perfectly. The only hiccups have been caused by human error, such as sports accessories being left on the pitch after various activities. And in order to ensure that the automatic mowers continue to work like a dream, the municipality has even purchased small air compressors which have been installed close to each robot’s charging station and allow them to be cleaned at least once a week.

With this whole installation, Assens is saving a significant sum while at the same time enhancing the quality of its sports fields and the general environment. Elisabeth Bonde has also recommended “the robot adventure” to several other municipalities! If you’d like to join them or first want to receive more information, then don’t hesitate to contact our team!

Belrobotics robot mowers for sports grounds: operational feedback from two professionals

1A not-insignificant saving in time

To Harry Kort, a robot mower offers a substantial time saving compared to traditional mowing methods: “You can mow when you want to. You can mow night and day, but also between training sessions and competitions. What’s more, thanks to the machine’s low weight, it’s even possible to mow when it’s raining.” For a sports organization with over 9,000 members, a great many of whom use the pitches, that’s a definite advantage! Eize Linstra explains that some time ago he had to cope with a lack of know-how and shortage of volunteers to manage his club’s grounds. The arrival of two Belrobotics mowers was: “a great relief for the volunteers, who now only have to take care of major damage to the pitches.”

 

2Economical mowers

For many organizations, the budget plays an important part when choosing mowing equipment. Nevertheless, the purchase of an automatic mower soon pays for itself. The former Chairman of the Board of V.v. ODV is convinced of this: “Thanks to the robot mowers, we’ve saved a great deal of money. They mow more cheaply than the Town Council. In addition, there has been an additional advantage that we hadn’t foreseen. The robot mower has enabled us to renovate one of our pitches. Thanks to its low weight, it has given a new lease of life to one pitch that had become compacted and damp through having been mown using the Council’s machines. So we saved the cost of a renovation!”

 

3A better quality sports pitch

The savings are not the only advantage of this type of mower, and our two professionals are also delighted with the work of their robot mowers. First of all, the light weight of the machines prevents the soil becoming compacted. Eize Linstra claims this allows better soil oxygenation and hence better grass quality. What’s more, he explains that mulching the grass not only nourishes the pitch, but also avoids getting grass stains on the players’ footwear.

 

4An environmentally-friendly, durable mower

To Harry Kort, whose sports centre is part of the Utrecht Science Park, this sort of robot needs to be durable and environmentally-friendly. This is certainly the case with Belrobotics robot mowers, which he finds “environmentally-friendly and durable, as they don’t make any noise and you don’t have to put petrol in them.” Delighted with this aspect, he feels it could even be improved, for example, by using solar power.

 

5Maintenance and supervision

Even though automatic mowers make it possible to save time and offer a quality cut, like all machines, they do need a minimum of maintenance. For example, the blades have to be cleaned to remove grass clippings that adhere there because of rain or morning dew. Personally, Kort cleans his robot mowers using a compressor. This maintenance takes him around a quarter of an hour per machine. For further information on the subject, consult the article on maintaining and servicing Belrobotics robot mowers.

According to the Sports Facilities Manager, you also need to pay attention to certain parameters like the height of the grass which, if it is too long, shortly after it is cut “creates matting on the pitch and stifles it”, or dampness, as  “this can cause mould to form.” In all, as he explains very well himself: “The grass doesn’t become any less vulnerable – you must continue to keep a close eye on it.” Our users will appreciate this advice!

Do you have to manage sports grounds like our two professionals? Check out all the information on maintaining sports pitches on the blog and don’t hesitate to contact our teams for more details of our robot mower product range and a free quote for your club.

Report on operation of robot mowers on the Buitenboom sports ground in the Netherlands

 

1A thicker, stronger grass carpet with no effort

The effects of the action of the robots on the grass are substantial. According to the observations of the administrator and the director, the carpet has changed: it is much thicker and stronger on the grounds maintained by robot mowers than on those using traditional mowing. The difference between the two carpets is almost one unit of atmospheric pressure. Thus there is less need for aeration, which reduces maintenance costs: “You have to carry out less aeration and you save on the cost of manual mowing and on dumping the clippings.”

 

2Professional setting-up for the charging stations

The robots were installed by the team from the regional reseller ATARO bv. This required special logistics. The location of the charging station must be planned in accordance with the zones to be covered. An analysis using Google Earth and meticulous examination was performed by the ATARO staff. In the majority of cases, they are positioned in the middle of the various areas to be mown. Each mower has its own route and adheres to the pre-programmed mowing zone.

 

3Team work

The installation of the robots also requires a minimal adjustment to the management of the goal infrastructure. The goal nets must be raised so that the robots can pass underneath them. This operation has to be performed after each match. The teams must be kept informed and all work together to put this system in place.

 

4No thefts of robot mowers

Some people were sceptical about the potential for vandalism and theft of the robot. The management, and the volunteers too, were also afraid of the losing sight of the robot mower. Their fears were soon dispelled: the robots’ Track and Trace GPS system makes it possible to find out the exact position of the robots in real time. Furthermore, a robot cannot be used without the access code. The FAQ article about vandalism backs up these remarks.

Rapid resolution of the problem of unmown areas

The charging station powers two wires around 2 different, but adjacent, sections of ground. The sports ground staff noticed that a small section of ground was not mown. The perimeter wires for the 2 adjacent sections of ground were too far away and the robot was unable to reach the intermediate area to mow it. The problem was resolved by quickly reconfiguring the position of the wire.

Minor works in order to take 100% advantage of the robots

Is it possible to entrust the whole of the areas to be mown to the robots? Yes, but on condition that you make some arrangements. For example, we removed certain unnecessary guardrails so that the robot mowers could reach the edges of the ground. This allowed us to entrust the robot with a task we used to have to do by hand. Another minor operation was to tarmac over a tiny part of the grass, beneath the protective nets, again, so as to no longer have to mow those areas by hand. A quick job that did not affect the life of the club.

The club administrator confirms this: “At the outset, this requires a certain investment, but the years of satisfaction to come are totally worth it!” Quite impressively, he remarks too on the regrowth of the grass at the entrance to the ground. Even this mistreated area had enjoyed a new lease of life thanks to the action of the robot mowers.

Lastly, note that the Zevenaar sports infrastructures are open to the public. They are also used by schools or children’s vacation centres, for example. The intensity of repeated games was damaging the pitches. Since the robots have been brought into service, the surfaces are regenerated much faster and are impeccable for the football season.

Contact our teams for further information and a free quote for your club.