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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Robot mower for a big garden: Feedback – Belrobotics

Robot mowers for big gardens: economies of scale

Still underused only a few years ago, robot mowers are now everywhere to be found and especially in the gardens of private individuals. There may be a multitude of smaller models, adapted to gardens that are the size of postage stamps, but models tailored to more extensive surfaces are still not exactly legion. At Belrobotics, our models are mostly designed for professional use: municipal parks and gardens departments, football grounds, golf clubs, company grounds, etc. However, they also suit ‘down to the ground’ any private individual who owns and has to maintain large grounds.

This also happens to be the case for family J, who decided a few years ago to invest in a Bigmow model to look after their lawn. According to them several aspects have turned this investment into a real success:

Considerable time savings

For Mrs J, with her 2 hectares of land, a complete mow by tractor could take anything between 6 to 7 hours depending on the condition of the ground. So, a robot mower is an incredible time saver especially during periods when the grass grows very quickly. Furthermore, as it is now possible to adjust cutting times, you can easily decide which particular time would suit your needs best. 

 A top-quality cut

It is true that saving time is important, but there is no point mowing as fast as possible only to sacrifice the quality of your lawn. Fortunately, a good robot mower now allows you to apply a mulching technique to improve the condition of your lawn, reduce felt and plant diseases and even provide protection during the summer heat. For family J who, given the size if their lawn, had to mow without picking up the cut grasses and plants, mulching also means that they can now enjoy a ’clean’ lawn without a heap of all kinds of grass and foliage.

 An adaptable multi-zone mower

Not all gardens present a nice flat canvas allowing easy-access mowing. Such is the case with the garden of Mrs X. Crossed by a brook, it is split into three zones. One of the advantages of our mowers is their ability to easily mow multi-zone grounds, as well as, for even bigger gardens, to manage the use of several mowers. Whatever might happen, you definitely do not have to fear that your lawn somehow cannot be got to. Thanks to an expert laying the peripheral cable you can rest assured that your robot will not damage any zone, trees, flowers beds or anything else.

An application to track your robot mower

The application is a real advantage although it might rather look like an accessory. Yet, for many clients, professional or private individuals, it brings peace of mind in many ways. The application in fact allows you to know the location of your robot mower at any given point in time. If it runs up against an obstacle you get a direct alert and you can then immediately start solving the problem. And you can also easily reset certain parameters such as the cutting height and working hours.

Transcription

Our grounds are indeed very uneven. In fact, it is an old meadow. It was never seeded to be a beautiful lawn, so there are holes and lumps all over the place. It sort of goes up and down. There are all kinds of little animals living here on our two little hectares.

A garden with plenty of fauna and quite a lot of flora too I might say. We have plenty of trees and like to see flowers pretty much everywhere. For the robot this is no problem, it just turns this way and that. The robot also eases its way around the trees and does not damage anything at all.

I used to mow by tractor, so, depending on the season and the state of the grass, which can be dry or sodden and covered with leaves or not I could look forward to a good 6 or 7 hours of straight mowing. Now we use the robot for the three zones in these U-shaped grounds. We have really defined the back and each side of the house, all crossed by a little brook. We get up in the morning and lawn is mown after a good night’s sleep, we do not have to worry about the job anymore!

I save a whole day each week in the high mowing season. With the tractor we were not able to collect the cut grass from this surface. Now we no longer have a problem with grass sticking to our feet thanks to the mulching technique. This is the future, it is no use going back in time. The robot mower offers more comfort and allows to save time. Moreover, the result is much nicer. I can always check the robot mower’s battery, verify its location and what type of alarm it sends me. To do that I just need my tablet or smartphone, that is all.

 

Robot mower for businesses: feedback – Belrobotics

 The advantages of a robot mower for businesses

For many businesses, whatever their size, the management of the green spaces that surround their buildings may be important. These spaces must be regularly maintained, whether it is a case of image or for logistics and practical considerations. So, more and more businesses are coming to use professional robot mowers for easy mowing of their grounds.

Is this craze really justified and are the advantages of robot mowers sufficient to justify buying one?

At Belrobotics we obviously have a clear idea on the question. However, we wanted to talk with Etienne Rion, Head of Business Operations at Roche, a company that has been using our robot mowers for many years, to find out what he thinks about them and the advantages that they offer for businesses.

A robot mower does not demand much attention

To Mr Rion one of the big advantages of a robot mower is that it does not demand much attention and maintenance. Once the mower and its line are installed it works on the lawn in total autonomy and returns when necessary, or according to your choices, on the basis of load.

Certain marks also offer applications that allow you to follow – on smartphone, tablet or computer – the GPS position of your robot to make certain that it is doing its work properly, but also to reassure yourself of the fact that it is always at the right place and has not been vandalised. Many of these applications can also warn you of the slightest suspect movement of the robot. On that point, however, you can rest assured that theft of robot mowers is extremely rare.

 A very practical multi-zone mow

Another point, the automatic mowers may manage several mowing zones. For Roche, given the arrangement of the grounds that surround their buildings, this is a real advantage. In fact, the zone to be mowed measures around 6 000 m² but is separated into 3 different zones: a main zone which is intersected with some trees, a secondary zone in front of the car park – this zone is quite narrow – and, finally, a smaller third zone. Once the zones are well marked and roped off the robot is capable of mowing the different parts of the grounds regularly. A good professional robot mower can also easily mow 10 000 m², or even more in case of very robust models.

For businesses that own even more extensive grounds it is possible, according to the manufacturer, to use a fleet of robots working together for an impeccable result.

 Green grounds all year round

Unlike certain conventional mowers and tractors, the professional robot mowers offer a mulching cut: the grass is cut into tiny straws that fertilise the lawn while keeping the humidity. This makes the lawn more attractive, dense and resistant, even during hotter periods. A robot also helps to neutralise the negative effects of mulching: appearance of felt if done too spaced-out and faster growth of grass.

Robot mowers: a not inconsiderable ROI

The quality of cut and general appearance of its green spaces may well be important for a company, but so are the costs involved in maintaining that quality. On this point, Mr Rion explains that the robot mowers allow easy cost reduction and could even be reimbursed in only three years time. All this is made possible thanks to a relatively low electric power consumption, which is much cheaper than fuel, and its automation.

The ecological side of robots also convinced Roche. In a world that pays more and more attention to carbon emissions, robot mowers produce much less than mowers that run on fuel.

 A quiet mower for easy living

Finally, during the summertime, a lawn might soon require at least one cut per week. The demand increases and the companies that manage the maintenance of green spaces have to work during office hours. Now, the mowers and tractors generate noise pollution, and that can be annoying. At Roche some of the meeting rooms are situated directly on the ground floor, which inevitably results in increased noise levels that might sometimes be very disturbing during meetings. With the robot mower all is peace and calm. It can operate at any time without you hearing a thing.

Do not hesitate to consult our blog to discover more tips and hints about robots and lawns.

Transcription of the video:

Our grounds cover a surface of around 6 000 m², divided into 3 zones. Here you have the main zone, like a big rectangle on which there is a clump of trees cutting across this zone. (Add photo in the text with name = company grounds.jpg and as alt = the grounds cut by the robot mower). There is a zone behind that is secondary, situated in front of the car park. The particular feature of this zone is that it is relatively narrow. Finally, a third zone, where the Parcmow is situated at the moment.

This is an entirely automatic machine, so at the end of the day, it does not need much attention and only very little maintenance. When you look at the figures for return on investment you see that our investment in the machine was recovered in just three years. What is so special about these robot mowers, is that mulching makes it possible to enrich the soil in a natural way. We realised that using chemical fertilisers is no longer necessary, the lawn stays relatively green all season.

We attach great importance to the environment. A machine such as the automatic mower, the robot mower, may consume a little electricity, but it is very negligible compared to the CO2 emissions of a thermal machine. On the ground floor there are meeting rooms. The person who did the maintenance with his thermal mower used to spend long minutes, sometimes even hours, going up and down. This finally caused some considerable noise. Today, it is a problem we do not have any more. The application is used on smartphone only. It is indeed sometimes reassuring to check the location of the machine via the application. Thanks to the Maps geolocation application we can look up where the Parcmow is, this is particularly useful when you have not seen the machine a while. We then realise that it is simply busy cutting in the area with trees behind us. Here it works throughout the day, regardless of the weather conditions.

 

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 mow 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.