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Ride-on mowers – what to look for

Ride-on mowers – what to look for: When it comes to purchasing a new ride-on mower, there are many manufacturers and models currently available. Whether you require 2wd or 4wd, petrol or diesel, ground-tip or high-tip, there are lots of options. But, what should you be looking at? Les Malin, Managing Director of Etesia UK answers some common questions.

WILL A RIDE-ON MOWER CUT AND COLLECT IN THE WET AND LEAVE A CUT COMPARABLE TO A PEDESTRIAN MACHINE?

The obvious answer is some will, while some will not, but the ones that can will be far quicker over a large area compared to a pedestrian mower. However, there is still a need for smaller pedestrian machines, due to access and transport etc. When it comes to cut and collect systems, Etesia is the innovator of every other machine you see on the market today.

Ride-on mowers - what to look for

Ride-on mowers – what to look for

The French based company created a patented system in the late 1980’s and quite simply, the system is unrivalled. Where models such as our Hydro 80 or Bahia ride-on mowers are useful, is small access points such as gates etc. The British climate is notoriously wet, and on most days when it hasn’t rained, the grass may still be damp, so it’s important to have a machine that is up to the job of cutting and collecting in the wet.

The Etesia Professional ride-on mower range have been designed and developed especially for these conditions. They will pick up wet grass clippings and even leaves in the autumn and have been designed to never clog and everything is fully automated.

CAN YOU EMPTY THE GRASS BOX EASILY WITHOUT LEAVING THE SEAT?

All Etesia ride-on mowers have the option of emptying the grass box directly from the driver’s seat, without ever having to leave the machine. In our larger Buffalo, H100 andH124 models, you can empty the grass box up to 1.24m above the ground which is very useful if you need to empty grass clippings into a skip or hi-tip vehicle for recycling.

Unlike competitor machines, they are designed to be able to tip the heaviest of loads without needing additional counterweights to aid stability. This reduces the overall weight of the machine. The most notable benefit is the fact that Etesia machines do not require any additional accessories to unblock them when emptying the machines.

Everything is automatic so no accessories or rattling of levers are required – you can simply cut, collect and empty the grass box all while sitting on the machine.

CAN I CUT AND COLLECT AND MULCH WITH THE SAME MACHINE?

Mulch cutting has become very popular over the years. Predominately, it’s used as a time-saving form of grass cutting as there is no need to collect clippings or debris and empty. There are also other benefits as mulching can often mean ‘greener’ grass, particularly in times of drought, as the nutrients are put back into the soil after a cut.

Most of the Etesia machines have the option of being able to cut and collect or mulch – it really depends on the users’ preference. Just remember the golden rule when mulch cutting and only cut a third of the grass height in a single cut.

WILL A RIDE-ON MOWER CUT HIGH GRASS?

We do sell a range of Attila brushcutters which have been specifically designed to cut rough grass or brambles and have been known for ‘whatever’ they can push over, they can cut’, however our ride-on mowers are an affordable solution for taming high grass paddocks and fields, meaning that one machine can be used for a multiple of different tasks.

WILL I BE ABLE TO FIT ATTACHMENTS TO A RIDE-ON MOWER OR WILL I NEED A TRACTOR?

That really depends on the type of attachments you would like to fit. However, Etesia also sell a range of attachments from scarifiers, snow plough, sand spreader, weeding brush and also a street sweeper which means that one ride-on mower really can be a 365-days-a-year workhorse.

WILL A RIDE-ON MOWER EFFECTIVELY COLLECT FALLEN LEAVES?

Autumn is a busy time in the garden and collecting and disposing of fallen leaves can be a big job. There is no faster or better way to collect those fallen leaves than with a Etesia ride-on mower.

Another benefit of using a ride-on mower is that the leaves will be shredded which means you will get more leaves in the grass box and composting will be accelerated.

ARE RIDE-ON MOWERS SAFE TO USE?

When choosing a ride-on mower, ensure it has added safety benefits for the user. You need to consider if you are working on slopes, then it will be worth looking at a model with a differential lock for extra stability on slopes or uneven ground. Etesia is the only manufacturer to offer 4wd and or differential lock across the whole range of ride-on’s with mid mount cutting decks.

Vibration is also a big consideration. Etesia machines are rigorously tested in our state-of-the-art factory in France to meet all EU regulations. We also publish all of these figures on our website.

It’s also worth noting that vibration isn’t just a health hazard for the user, but also an indicator of machine efficiency and design. Etesia avoids vibration by fitting correctly balanced components which also has the added benefit of lasting longer.

We still have users of our first generation H100 model that is over 30 years old!

WILL THE MANUFACTURER ARRANGE A FREE, NO OBLIGATION DEMONSTRATION ON OUR OWN SITE?

For the past 30 years, the Etesia slogan has always been ‘Seeing is believing’. For That reason, we also recommend a free, no obligation demonstration to put our machines to the test on your own site. This can be organised by contacting us directly or speaking to one of dealers local to you.

WILL I BE ABLE TO BUY SPARE PARTS EASILY?

Etesia UK holds vast stocks of spare parts for machines dating back to the 1980’s. Selling to the professional market means obtaining spare parts, which is very important to the end user. Consumables are normally off the shelf and we pick 98% of orders consistently. It is only usually obscure items that may catch us out.

Blades and belts are consumable items and will always need to be replaced from time-to-time. If your local dealer hasn’t got the spare part you require, we can usually get it direct from France in no time at all.

In addition to here in the UK, we also work with Kramp who stock many of the faster moving items and can supply dealers on their fantastic overnight service, which benefits from longer opening hours during harvest periods.

Earlestown Athletic look to the future

Earlestown Athletic look to the future: Grassroots football cub, Earlestown Athletic JFC, has ensured the long-term quality and improvement of their four-pitch site, The Hive, with a New Holland Boomer 35 Tractor, Trimax Striker Mower and Sisis Quadraplay from Campey Turf Care Systems.

The Warrington based club has 21 teams from the ages of three to under-17 level, with a vast majority of games played at The Hive. The development of the five-acre site on what was the former St Aelred’s Catholic School field, which over the years was left derelict took place four years ago with the help of funding from The Football Foundation, Corby Environmental and Sport England.

Earlestown Athletic look to the future

Earlestown Athletic look to the future

With that money and a 99-year lease from the council, the club renovated the ground, installed drainage, a modular building with toilets, a kitchen and a car park. To this point, The Hive has become one of the best football facilities in the area, and it is the aim of Chairman, Carl Hollingsworth, that this can be improved thanks to the help of Campey Product Specialist, Ethan Yates, and their new machinery.

“I’ve been with the club for nearly nine years now, mainly as a coach, but it’s only been in the last year and a half since becoming Chairman that I’ve seen a lot more happening behind the scenes than I ever had before,” Carl explains. “It’s been a bit of an eye-opener, with plenty of ups and downs, but thankfully we have a fantastic committee who put the Club first. Between myself, Dave Edwards our Secretary, and rest of the Committee we’ve steered the club through some pretty tough times with the COVID-19 lockdown and the premature ending of last season. Credit also must go to our players families who have supported us throughout.

“During this summer we applied for and received the Pitch Improvement Grant to help us do the maintenance on the fields, and the latest money is from that programme again, but on the equipment side of things and without them we’d be up the creek without a paddle basically, I can’t thank The Football Foundation enough.”

“Our old mower kept breaking down and about two months ago the wheel fell off so we had to source new bolts and a new a wheel head, but the bolts weren’t right, so it fell off again and it was sat in the middle of a field. That really prompted us to push even more for the new equipment.

“Once we realised we could get it, and raise the money we needed, Campey were brilliant in bringing a mower to demonstrate, and Ethan especially has been great. He’s been brilliant in taking my phone calls after work as we went through the process, and on the day, he dropped the machine off, he spent hours going through it with the coaches and me.

“It’s going to get more use because more coaches are willing to use it whereas the old one it was a bit of a no-go area for some of them because they were a bit intimidated by it. Whereas this is brand-new equipment, and they want to use it, which is good because it takes the pressure off me.”

The quality of The Hive has been recognised over the last two seasons with the award of the Warrington Junior Football League Presidents Cup and Alf Holt Cup finals, with the third round of finals also due to be played on the site unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19.

Whether your club is striving to maintain or improve their pitch quality, Campey can assist you with advice on machinery and provide a full and comprehensive service of consultation and back-up to ensure you get the machinery you need to make a difference for your club.

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Look for the Standard

Look for the Standard: Following its launch, the Amenity Standard is receiving widespread and enthusiastic support from all sides of the amenity sector and is already being incorporated into tender documents and specifications going forward.

The Amenity Standard, when held and displayed, demonstrates that all operational activities undertaken are at the highest professional standards and fully comply with all regulations, code of practice and good practice guidance.

Look for the Standard

Look for the Standard

The key reason for introducing this UK wide standard is to provide assurance to the public and all users of an amenity space. Displaying and holding the Standard means that the organisation and individuals undertaking the operations are members of an approved assurance scheme. The assurance scheme is audited fully before being recognised by the Amenity Standard. Holding the Standard demonstrates that all the work undertaken is of the highest professional level and meets all legislative requirements and fully follows the code of practice and good practice guidance.

Currently not all aspects of amenity management have assurance schemes recognised but work is on going to ensure this will be the case very soon. Seeking out the Standard provides reassurance on quality standards and confidence that the essential work being done is at a professional level with safety as a key objective.

Professor John Moverley, Independent Chairman of the Amenity Forum said ‘’Our aim is to ensure that all involved in amenity management operations meets the requirements of the Standard and we wish for all involved to look for The Standard and its logo to provide full assurance of the quality of operations and commitment to best practice. As I often say, what happens in amenity management impacts upon every UK citizen every day and the introduction of the Standard provides assurance to the public of adherence to requirements to provide safe, healthy amenity areas fit for purpose.

We are delighted with the way those involved have welcomed the Standard and it has strong support from all national governments in the UK. Integrated approaches are core to this, making use of all methods available to achieve optimum results’’

Alan Abel from Complete Weed Control, said ‘’We are proud to hold the Amenity Standard and show our commitment to best practice, integrated approaches and meeting all requirements. We urge all seeking to employ operators to ensure the organisation involved meets the Standard requirements and is a full supporter of the Amenity Forum.  The Amenity Standard is designed to give assurance to all who use such facilities that operations are carried out to the highest professional levels of best practice giving assurances equivalent to seeing the Red Tractor when buying food’’

For further information about the Standard, visit the website, www.theamenitystandard.co.uk . Public facing information on what happens in amenity management and how it is done can be found at www.getbritainmoving.uk

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Groundsmen Look To The Heavens

Groundsmen Look To The Heavens: It was around this time in the long, hot summer of 1976 that things were getting really desperate for the nation’s greenkeepers and groundsmen. It remains the hottest, driest summer on record, though one that this year is threatening to outdo, and it forced those in search of water to keep their well-tended turf alive to get creative.

Exeter City drew up a plan to pour 10,000 gallons of treated sewage effluent on to the pitch. Torquay United trucked in waste water from a sewage works in Heathfield, and Brentford brought in 30,000 gallons from their local treatment plant. The only way the rugby league club New Hunslet could render the ground at their Elland Road Greyhound Stadium soft enough for a cup tie against Keighley to go ahead was to use a tanker full of water collected from a nearby car factory, which was contaminated with oil and “other waste materials”. “Tests on it show that it does not constitute a hazard to health,” wrote the Times, reassuringly.

Groundsmen Look To The Heavens

David Oxley, secretary of the Rugby League, said that though “this is traditionally a hard game for hard men”, playing it on hard ground would be one hard too many. “When it becomes parched and cracks open, that’s the danger point,” he said. “We have suggested that clubs might use purified sewage water, or any similar method. It is very much a local affair. Each club will have to decide for itself but having watched a game last Sunday when it looked more like a battlefield, I think the time is not far off when we shall be forced to call games off.”

The Rugby Football Union and its Welsh equivalent both suggested that clubs should consider cancelling games if pitches remained parched. “We are leaving it to the common sense of the clubs,” a Welsh Rugby Union spokesman said, “but if they did come to us for advice I think we would have to say don’t play unless it rains.”

The Guardian’s Frank Keating spoke to the director of the Sports Turf Research Institute, John Escritt, whose advice to groundsmen was simple: “The first advice is to trust in the power of prayer – and if that doesn’t work, which it won’t, leave the grass long because it can then collect what bit of moisture there might be around at dawn.”

At Cardiff Arms Park there was no need for prayer. Workmen had been laying the foundations of a new stand when the desperate groundsman, Bill Hardiman, pleaded with them to dig at the river end of the pitch to see if they found water. They did, just nine feet down, and again at the opposite end. From then on Hardiman sprayed his pitch for 12 hours a day. “I have had the water analysed and it is quite drinkable,” he said. “I drink it every day.”

Tony Bell, now Middlesbrough’s head groundsman, was just a child in 1976. “I remember thinking it was fantastic,” he recalls. This year Bell and his team, named the best in the Championship last season, have had to cope with similar challenges. “We’ve had dry times before, but not as long as this, day after day after day,” he says. “Irrigation’s OK, but it doesn’t go on the same as rain. It’s never as even. You only need a breath of wind and it blows about. Some parts of the pitch are getting double what they need, others nothing at all.”

Bell has several advantages over 1970s-era groundskeepers, including automatic irrigation sprinklers, moisture meters, consultant agronomists, and four decades’ worth of advances in turf science. Half the seed he laid this summer was tetraploid grass, a new, hardier, stronger kind of rye. He also has a borehole that provides plentiful water to the training ground. Yet still he has struggled. “Temperature has been the biggest challenge,” he says. “The heat basically forces us to put water on during the day just to keep the grass alive, but that also creates disease. We’ve had pythium blight, which is a warm-weather disease you very rarely get in this country. It’s devastating, it just makes the grass go strawlike. We had a lot of pitches that were severely knocked back, and they’re only just recovering now. Down south it’s been 30-odd degrees, which is far more challenging. Up here 21-22 is a normal summer, but 25-plus is a different ball game.”

Christian Spring is UK research operations manager at the Sports Turf Research Institute, and was recently at Carnoustie to monitor playing conditions at the Open. “They’ve not had a huge amount of rain, certainly a lot less than they’re used to,” he says. “It’s been about managing the water reserves that they’ve got and trying to keep everything ticking over so it looks authentic, feels authentic but still plays well as a golf course. This year was an opportunity to hold an Open Championship in true summer conditions. It’s a different challenge. Overwatering can be just as bad as underwatering. As with all things in life, finding the right balance is difficult. The art of a groundsman is knowing when to back off and not be tempted to turn on the tap.”

As this summer continues along its arid path, although this weekend’s rain has brought some relief, it is also about looking beseechingly at the heavens and hoping that at some point nature will take care of that job for you, and ideally before the borehole runs dry, the hosepipe bans kick in and you’re forced to put in a call to the sewage plant.

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A Look At The Polaris Opole Factory

A Look At The Polaris Opole Factory: Founded by David Johnson and brothers Edgar and Allan Hetteen in 1954, Polaris Industries is now a global powersports leader. Employing over 10,000 people worldwide with annual sales in 2017 of $5.4 billion, Polaris has been the world leader in off-road vehicles for over 30 years. In 2014, Polaris enhanced its manufacturing capability by opening the first Polaris factory intended for the production of off-road vehicles outside of North America in Opole, Poland.

With over 300 employees, the 33,700m² Opole facility plays a pivotal role in the production, homologation and development of off-road vehicles for Europe, Middle East and African markets for Polaris. In 2017, the Opole Distribution Centre was built which occupies an area of 17,500m².

A Look At The Polaris Opole Factory

The average journey for one of the 7000 active components coming into the facility from one of the 200 vendors from around the world, would start upon their arrival into the warehouse area. There are over 3300 pallet locations in the racking system and 1000 supermarket flow rack locations for the components to be housed and sorted. Any parts that come from overseas in disposable packaging are repacked into internal reusable boxes.

Next stop is the Welding area, which currently produces 46 ATVs and 26 SXS each day. Each of the 10 dual stations for ATV or 20 stations for SXS chassis are fitted with fume ventilation systems and a Visual Work Instruction screen which presents an isometric view of the parts to the operator. There’s a robotic welding cell too, where suspension components are manufactured.

Painting operations consist of both plastic and metal painting areas. The plastic paint areas have two spraying ovens installed and the metal painting system has an automated painting line which takes care of the whole process from chemical pre-treatment to curing. All painters are trained in house to ensure they’re perfectly qualified.

The facilities and plant service team ensure the factory runs smoothly and equipment is maintained. There is also a dedicated test team who put the vehicles under scrutiny on the 2km test track, situated at the rear of the factory – this also includes an asphalt test area, to simulate on-road experience. This data, along with the experiences of the test drivers, is used to further develop vehicles with the US team.

Once the components have been welded and painted, they make their way to their penultimate stop – assembly. There are two horse-shoe shaped assembly lines – one for RZR, RANGER and GENERAL vehicles and one for ATVs and ACE vehicles. Operators are provided with visual work instructions – 3D image files and the operator can rotate the image to view different angles – instead of paper instructions. The material is presented in convenient packing and locations so that there’s little material handling for the operator.

Designed with efficiency at the heart, all of the operators are visible from any point on the line so that the group leaders can see how the production is flowing and make any corrections should there be any problems. The length of the assembly process depends on the complexity of the vehicle. An example of a complex vehicle would be the RANGER, which takes around one hour 20 minutes to assemble. Staff are rotated between the different assembly lines to ensure they are skilled on both lines and their minds are fresh.

Once assembled, vehicles are tested on a rolling road to check all functions and then put directly into a crate and wrapped, ready for distribution. Random vehicles are pulled from the line and checked for extra quality checks. Nearly 40,000 have been produced since the ISO 9001 certified factory opened in 2015 – it was the first Polaris factory with a certified Quality Management System.

“Working at the Polaris factory here in Opole isn’t just a job for our employees – our staff take part in charity events, attend Polaris events and are able to experience the Polaris product for themselves. We foster a positive working environment and as a result have a low staff turnover. Since opening the factory, the nearly three-quarters of the staff who started with us in 2015, are still with us and we have members of the same family who work here. We look forward to the future of the Opole facility – and see it going from strength to strength due to our capacity and our employees skills.”, said Director of Operations at Polaris Opole, Bogusław Dawiec.

‘Understand the riding experience. Live the riding experience. Work to make it better.’

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