Maintain or Replace?

Maintain or Replace?: Nobody wants to spend money unnecessarily, so it is important that any spending is on the correct product or service. But how do you know what that is, who do you ask and how do you know the information is correct.

If you have a little more understanding of how your system is put together, then it should be possible to narrow down your options.

Maintain or Replace?

Maintain or Replace?

Whether you have a clockwork controller or a computer-based controller, initially, the complete system would have been designed by an irrigation consultant, or an irrigation contractor. When that system was designed, it would have specified the following: A pump, pipe network, cable network, sprinklers, and a controller. Each one of these component parts would have been specified to work together for reliable operation of the system.

Over the years, these components will have required replacing, repairing, or upgrading. Sometimes the original product has been discontinued but there will often be a direct replacement. But why install a direct replacement when there is an improved component on the market?

Depending on the component in question, this is often where mistakes are made that can cause a chain reaction. Apart from must do maintenance like pipe bursts or cable breaks, decisions on improving a system are often decided on visibility.

What do I mean by this? Things that can be more easily justified logically and seen by management, committees, or members. The main contender is often sprinklers. With new technology giving improved coverage, better throw, and increased flow why would you not look at them (logical). They can be seen around a green and often manufacturers will give you some free samples to try out. (visual both on the course and financially).

Most new sprinklers have increased flow rates that can deliver more water in half the time. But that new sprinkler is fed by the existing pump and pipe network and you now require that network to deliver maybe double the previous flow. Maybe the pipes and pump can deliver that but what if they can’t? Initially, the result will be bad application but more importantly you have increased the stress on your pump and pipe network that may well take it beyond its original design parameters.

So that’s it, you can’t benefit from new technology unless you replace the entire system. Not necessarily!

If you are using a clockwork controller, you are going to be more limited. Any increased flows will have to be manually calculated so they do not exceed the parameters of the design. This may increase the irrigation window, as you will only be able to run a limited number of sprinklers at the same time, but maybe you can live with that.

If you are running a computer-based controller then you have options.

Maintain or Replace?

Maintain or Replace?

Earlier, I mentioned visibility. Below are examples of non-visible items but these can make a big difference to the reliability and performance of your system.

Older controllers may be more basic but, they are likely to have upgrade options. Remember, the controller is also made up of different parts. There is the main box on the wall which contains all the electrical parts, the software running the system and the computer.

The main box maybe be a few years old but, in our opinion, there is no major advantage to replacing this if the software can be upgraded. The software, and the reliability of the computer it is installed on, is the workhorse behind any computer-based system and can often be upgraded quickly to give the user new features and cater for new technology.

We see so many sites running computers that are over 10 years old with software even older. And with that old set up the database containing critical site information is also likely to be out of date. But as previously mentioned, they are not visual items, so to spend money on them is difficult to justify.

To see just how important your data is, see previous articles we have written and published in TurfMatters:

  1. Check your data. Don’t jump to replace your system.
  2. Data checked. Next step Hydraulic tree

We distribute and support the GTI Gemini and GTI Trident range of controllers. Contact us on 0044 (0) 208 897 0125 or visit our web site

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