This information came from a session during the 2022 ELEVATE conference and expo. Don’t miss the 2023 ELEVATE in Dallas on Sept. 10-13.
It’s commonly said that in business, you’re either growing or dying. If you want your company to still be around in the next five, 10 or 15 years, you have to consider what an innovative fleet will look like by then. Taking the time to plan now will help prevent you from being in a reactive state.
Below are some of the different types of innovation to consider implementing and the ways they can benefit your business.
Carlos Haddad, VP/GM of the North American professional products with The Husqvarna Group, sees landscape services becoming more expensive in the future, not because of battery-power tools or robotic mowers, but due to labor costs.
As the shortage of skilled labor is likely to remain, adding robotic mowers to your operations allows you to free up the crew members you do have to work on more detail-oriented tasks.
Ed Wright, CEO of Wright Manufacturing, Inc., adds that robotic mowers offer increased safety by removing the human element from the tasks. For instance, maintaining steep, sloped properties with robotic mowers eliminates the risk of operator rollover.
Yet in order for autonomous mowers to become more frequently adopted these models will have to become less expensive. Logan Fahey, founder and managing partner of Fahey Group, believes the cost will be driven down as more manufacturers enter the space and continue to innovate.
Charles Brian Quinn, co-founder and CEO of Greenzie, argues it is unquantifiable how much ROI an autonomous mower can benefit an operation as they are able to work consistently. He adds that while in a dystopia a robot takes your job, a utopia is where a robot does some of your job. Ideally, automation should eliminate dull, repeatable tasks.
As more manufacturers offer fleet tracking and telematics data for every piece of equipment, Fahey says this will provide owners a better understanding of their crews’ efficiency per task. For instance, if you thought it took a team 50 minutes to mow a property and it actually takes 80 minutes, you need to rebid the job in response.
Fahey says this technology can also allow you to see which of your teams are the most efficient in general. He stresses that there needs to be employee buy-in for this type of technology to be frictionless. Owners shouldn’t use this data to micro-manage, but more to know when certain jobs need to be bid better.
Fleet tracking in trucks is already common for a number of landscape companies and can inform managers when an employee is not practicing safe driving. Rather than using the system to punish employees, Green Lawn Fertilizing has used this technology to reward their safest drivers.
Battery power certainly isn’t new, but manufacturers are continuing to improve upon the run and charge times of their battery-powered products making them more viable for landscape professionals. These tools require less maintenance than traditional gas-powered equipment and are quiet, allowing for work at earlier and later hours on certain properties.
With the recent legislation in California likely to be copied in other states, it is best to start testing the implementation with your crews now.
Fahey says the key to adopting any of this technology effectively is to have someone on staff dedicated to ensuring its rollout. This individual should be responsible for figuring out the necessary infrastructure required and deciding what works for your business. They need to have patience and the willingness to test different options.
For more content like this, register for next year’s ELEVATE in Dallas, Texas, on Sept. 10-13.