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Mower fleet boosted by cutting edge technology

A FLEET of ride-on lawnmowers is being geared up for the future thanks to the installation of cutting edge tracking technology.

Vehicle solutions firm Motiva Group have produced a bespoke version of their Motrak monitoring system for The Landscape Group – a leading nationwide grounds maintenance and landscaping business.

High-tech units will be installed on 250 ride-on mowers – providing real-time data which will show precisely how each vehicle is being used.

The system is so precise that it will be able to keep track of when each machine is actually cutting grass, picking litter or running idle. It will even show when a driver is taking a break.

Real time monitoring and reporting will enable machine efficiency to be monitored and will provide contract managers with the ability to truly maximise productivity.

The unit, based around Motiva’s successful Motrak monitoring tool already widely used in cars, vans and trucks, was adapted for the fleet of machines in just six months.

A trial installation proved highly successful and the system has now gone live on 60 machines. The project will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet over the next few months.

Paul Holdcroft, head of Motrak at Stoke-on-Trent-based Motiva Group, said: “Our customer had a requirement for their ride-on mowers to be tracked as they wanted to understand exactly what the machines were doing when they were out in the field.

“They wanted to see precise information such as how long the blades were actually down and working as part of plans to increase productivity.

“We already provide the company with trackers for 400 vans, tippers and four-wheel drives, so this idea was an extension of that.

“It was a complex request, but we came up with a solution which will provide tracking information for their whole fleet and which will give their contract managers direct details of how the machinery is being used.

“It will provide information on driver behaviour that can help reduce fuel costs and improve productivity by as much as 20 per cent.

“That can add up to massive for savings for anyone, let alone a company of that size and it will also have a huge positive effect on the environment as it helps to cut emissions too.”

Each mower will be fitted with a Motrak unit to provide a core tracking capability. A Human Machine Interface (HMI) keypad is interfaced to the device, enabling an operator to select a set of pre-configured status and reporting alerts relating to the operation of the machine.

The combination of the two devices will provide a mechanism of reporting positional telematics and additional messaging into the Motiva Gateway.

The HMI keypad is a 10 or 12-button numerical keypad configured to report status and alerting messages.

Automatic and physical indication of the cutting blades status will be achieved by the addition of a sensor detection input to the device from a relevant output on the machine’s control system.

Communication between the vehicle and the end-user viewing platform is performed using the device’s internal GPRS modem, which is fitted with a supplied SIM card.

The success of the venture has been an eye-opener for Motiva Group, who are now keen to explore other avenues.

Mr Holdcroft added: “We like to think of ourselves as a company that understands our customers and we have certainly done that with this project.

“Creating a bespoke solution for Motrak to be used in horticulture was something of a first for us, but it has helped to broaden our horizons.

“The system was obviously originally designed for cars, vans and trucks, but there are no end of other applications it could be used for.

“Tractors, road sweepers, refuse lorries and even milk floats – it just depends on how deeply customers want to monitor their vehicles.”

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