A fleet of robot mowers in Groningen – Belrobotics

Fleet of robot mowers: a pilot project

In 2019 the Dutch town of Midden-Groningen had the opportunity to test, during a pilot project, a robot mower for football clubs from Belrobotics. The Dutch town now uses its 29 Bigmow robot mowers every day to look after 41 sports grounds.

 Situation in Groningen

Midden-Groningen is a Dutch town that was created thanks to the fusion of several entities. It counts around 61,000 inhabitants and has a large number of sports grounds to look after.

location of Midden-Groningen

Before 2021 the town of Midden-Groningen used to rely on several tractor mowers to maintain those sports grounds such as:

  • Roller-cutter mowers,
  • Rotary blade mowers,
  • String trimmers (“strimmers”),

But these types of mowers did not always meet the required quality standards. In fact, as Ronald Westers from the town of Groningen quickly adds, the cut quality also depends on the skills of the operator. Because of this problem, the town wanted to find a more efficient solution.

 A milestone order of robot mowers

Thanks to Jakob Jan Everts, Purchasing & Service Specialist with our dealer, Evertstuinmachines, a pilot project was set up with one of our professional robot mowers. It was quite clear that the local administration staff was already aware of the existence of robot mowers. All that we had to do now was to convince them. He succeeded in convincing them with a presentation of our products in the gardens of the Groningen Town Hall.

This pilot project took place on the football pitch of V.V. SGV in Schildwolde, one of the villages that make up the township. The project was soon found to be convincing and a first Bigmow was bought:

“The robot did its job perfectly and without the least problem”.

After some deliberation, the local authority put out a call for tenders for a 10-year contract for the mowing of its sports grounds. Krinkels came top of the list and chose to work alongside the Belrobotics dealer, Evertstuinmachines, among other things for maintenance. The goal of this cooperation was to better manage the project, given the size of it.

As it so happened 28 other Belrobotics robot mowers were then ordered in a single 10-year contract for the mowing of the local sports grounds.

For Belrobotics, very active in this sector in any case, this was one of the first European end-user contracts of any such scale.

Une vue satellite de la flotte de robots à Groningen

 

Installation that demands genuine expertise

The contract was also a first for Krinkels and, as Geert de Haan, the Project Manager of the company explains, the debate around the number of robots, their deployment and the installation of charging stations was a real challenge. It was obviously not enough to just put the robots on the ground and let them do their thing.

In October the robots were quickly installed in their zones. This allowed the launch of a series of tests and analyses to optimise their run and to ensure that everything was working well. Since the start of the 2021 mowing season this period has helped things move on without the least problem. All the clubs are now convinced by the robot mowers.

 The benefits of professional robot mowers for sports grounds

The call for tenders laid down certain specific requirements, one of which would quite particularly favour the use of robot mowers:

 Sports grounds with grass cut to perfection

The perfect cut is exactly one of the greatest advantages of the robots. They can carry on cutting 24/7 and, thus, fit in around training sessions and competitions.

This also allows them to keep the grass cut to a constant length while guaranteeing the densification of the field. Which does not only increase its resistance but also limits the appearance of felt. As a consequence, people are less tempted to use chemical products. Groningen has not used any for two years now and is happy to continue this way.

Furthermore, the light weight of the robots allows easier mowing during more delicate and wet seasons such as Spring or Autumn. There is no risk of them damaging ground that is already battered in the trying test of matches. The robots can also correctly mow particular areas such as the corner flags, etc.

But there is even more in it. The sustainability aspect of the mowing method was not without interest for the town either. Unlike the tractor-type mowers that require diesel, the robot mowers run on electricity.

Monitoring robots under the microscope using the app

This application provides insight into the status of the robots and safety alarms. Good news for all those who are concerned, especially for Krinkels. Even though they already keep spare and replacement machines to always have a mower available at critical moments, the close-monitoring combined application really offers absolute risk-limitation.

 Teams and associations won over

The correct installation and functioning of the equipment is important, but communication is also a crucial factor. Despite the complex health situation, the town was eager to hold some explanatory meetings and presentations with the various associations. Up to this very moment, only the club Schildwolde has been in contact with the robots on the ground. These sessions were organised to highlight the expectations of all interested parties and to ensure that the clubs feel happier about the capacities of robot mowers and their possibilities.

At the moment, now that the various clubs and teams have been able to check the results, the feedback is very positive. Even to the point that certain clubs are now themselves busy cleaning the grass off their mower blades, or just want to receive application logins to follow the mowing lines and intervene directly in case of minor defects. For Belrobotics, this is positive proof of the efficiency of its machines and that they earn the loyalty of their end-users.

Towns that save by going over to robot mowers

Contacts with our different partners suggest that the various towns are not always completely aware of the cost of their mowing systems or the clear and obvious benefits of robot mowers. Not only in terms of quality, but above all economy.

If you are, just like Groningen, interested in using robots, then please do not hesitate to contact us or consult directly one of our local dealers, who may perhaps be able to arrange a test run for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4 advantages of a GPS robotic mower

GPS robotic mower: a revolutionary technology

Between now and spring 2021 Belrobotics plans to officially launch the GPS RTK versions of its professional robotic mowers Bigmow and Parcmow as well as its robotic golf ball picker, the Ballpicker. Although this technology already exists and was tested some ten years ago, it has only recently gained full maturity, reaching a cost that is extremely attractive to its users

For three years Belrobotics has been developing and testing GPS versions of its robotic mowers in as many situations as possible. 30 prototypes have thus traveled different grounds between Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States. The first feedback turns out to be extremely positive.

The benefits of the GPS robotic mowers

Obviously, integrating GPS technology in robotic mowers is not at all trivial. This has an impact on the price of the models, but the various benefits definitely compensate the initial cost.

 An accelerated cut

A traditional robotic mower does not cut straight up and down but at random. Mowing a whole ground thus becomes a time-consuming activity, since the robotic mower will sometimes pass over zones that have already been mown. Robotic mowers with GPS guidance are now able to smoothly cut in a linear way. Thanks to this development they can cut up to three times more surface in the same timespan.

The robots can reach a cutting speed equivalent to that of a conventional tractor-mower without human intervention. A Belrobotics robot is capable of cutting up to 3 football pitches in a single day. In another order of magnitude, a standard Bigmow is needed to cut 2 football pitches. The smallest model, the Parcmow RTK, can now perform this task within the same timeframe.

 A more accurate cut

Considering the GPS function in your phone or car, you could say that precision is far from perfect and that your future GPS mower might as well end up where it should not be. Rest assured, RTK technology offers razor-sharp surgical precision within 3 to 5 centimetres. This allows the different models to mow a field in long and nice straight lines without leaving any visible marks. The ideal solution if you desire a field mown to perfection.

How does it work?

Robotic mowers with a higher capacity

Increasing the accuracy implies augmenting the capacity of the robotic mowers once and for all. As explained earlier, a Parcmow GPS is capable of cutting what a standard Bigmow can maintain. So, the same model is capable of cutting much more without having to return to its recharging base. This allows you to organise yourself even better by mowing only at certain times, whenever is convenient for you. For football pitches or other large areas with a high use percentage this is a considerable advantage: you can increase the number of training sessions or the duration of use of your installations.

More possibilities

The guidance technology for robotic mowers also presents other specific advantages. The RTK technology for example functions with a GPS receiver that acts as a relay between the satellites and the robots. So, the robot always remembers its last position. This means that, even if the device must return to its base, it will start cutting again from exactly the same place where it left off. This, once again, is very time saving.

Another advantage is that the robot modifies its cutting plan by 45 or 90 degrees once a full cycle is completed. This avoids leaving any permanent marks on the grass and increases the quality even more.

Finally, with the arrival of GPS models, a new application and portal come to life in order to better control the fleets of robotic mowers. You can control them all from a smartphone while conducting the following activities: receiving notifications, changing the different parameters, geolocating the robots, filtering them according to certain criteria, modifying the boundaries of plots of land, marking zones as prohibited, etc.

GPS robot mower | RTK technology – Belrobotics

GPS technology for robot mowers

Belrobotics is constantly on the outlook for new possibilities for its professional automatic mowers. That is why our engineers have developed a new accessory with a GPS RTK steering system that allows mowing with unequalled precision: accurate to the nearest centimetre!

What is RTK technology?

Abbreviation of Real Time Kinematic, this technology functions by picking up waves carrying certain signals:

  • GPS (the Global Positioning System from the USA)
  • GLONASS (the Global Navigation Satellite System from the Soviet Union)
  • and Galileo (the Global Navigation Satellite System from the European Union)

Those signals are then corrected in real time by a reference station, which results in mowing with centimetre accuracy!

 RTK technology for robot mowers: feedback

Many clients make already use of this new GPS mowing technology and are extremely positive about it. This is also the case for the Belgian Football Centre in Tubize which unites several football grounds used to train the Red Devils as well as young teams. Unsurprisingly, the grass must be cut perfectly for a game at professional level. This means intense work for the groundsmen who must guarantee that the pitches are always usable and who must therefore manage the mowing plannings very well. In an earlier interview they had already shared their experiences with our robot mowers for football grounds and their advantages. We seized this opportunity to also talk about their views on this new technology.

In order to not stop at a single opinion we also gave the floor to Gaetan Gervy who works at Keymolen, a company that sells farming machinery and equipment in Rebecq. They have a ground of 9 000 m² and are therefore extremely interested in our large surface mowers.

 GPS robot mowers for an accelerated cut

Frédéric Veraghaenne, Director of Operations of the Belgian Football Centre in Tubize, explains among other things that one of the advantages of this RTK system is to accelerate the cutting of the grounds by avoiding several passes in the same place during the same mow. For a centre whose grounds have a high rate of occupation, time management can be complicated and saving time is definitely an advantage.

For the company Keymolen this advantage is even more obvious. A standard robot mower without RKT technology would need as much as 5 days to mow their grounds. By installing this technology on a Bigmow this time can be reduced to three 2-hour passes. This pass must be split to allow the mower to recharge, but the timesaving is impressive.

This advantage concerns not only the mowing time but also the mowing potential of models. In fact, a smaller mower can now cut a larger surface, since it loses less time. The wear of parts such as the wheels or bearings is also reduced given that the mower only cuts very specific zones.

 GPS robot mowers for nicely cut grass

With their even more developed guidance system the mowers can now also mow the grounds with straight lines. The user can currently choose between 8 different configurations. Furthermore, with such a configuration, the robot no longer turns away if it comes up to a zone of higher grass as this does not form an obstacle anymore. Another advantage for the professional sports grounds that must always be in perfect shape!

 GPS robot mowers for a simpler cut of different grounds

The guidance system also allows a simpler cut of different grounds. In fact, the maintenance crews no longer have to move the mower and the application allows to follow by remote and prepare the line of the next ground. As we have already mentioned these lines are optimisable and modifiable. For the Belgian Football Centre, which has several grounds, this management is now greatly simplified.

A GPS installable on your Connected Line model

Finally, the GPS RTK technology can be installed on all our models of the Connected Line range. An antenna is added to the robot mower and to the ground that needs to be mowed. An additional module is connected to the computer. Thanks to these elements the exact position of the mower can be determined and it can mow more easily in straight lines.

The system currently functions using a Wi-Fi signal that can cover a working radius of up to 250-300 metres. It is also possible to use amplifiers to enlarge this zone. Our engineers are working on a new step: using 4G to make our clients’ lives even easier!

If you are interested in this technology and want to estimate the timesaving or financial benefit it would bring, do not hesitate to contact us for a free quote!