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Put mowing on autopilot with robotic mowers

September 30, 2019 -  By
LABOR SAVER Installing robotic mowers on residential properties can help cut down on man-hours. Photo: Husqvarna

LABOR SAVER Installing robotic mowers on residential properties can help cut down on man-hours. Photo: Husqvarna

Brian Chapman is about to install a robotic lawn mower on a residential property. While it sounds like a futuristic process, he says it will only take him about an hour to do on this average-sized lawn. He would know — this is the seventh robotic mower Chapman has installed this year, and he has 15 more properties waiting for installation. Although they are small, these machines drastically cut down on the time it takes to maintain these properties and allow crews at Lambert Landscape Co. in Dallas to focus on more skilled tasks, like trimming, edging and bed maintenance.

“We will never replace the landscaper — you just can’t do it — but robotic mowers ultimately make the job easier for our guys,” says Chapman, the company’s director of fleet and facilities. “Lambert’s has always prided itself on being a leader in innovation.”

While Lambert may be ahead of the game, robotic mowers have grown in popularity over the past few years. Once seen as frivolous gadgets, many companies now view robotic mowers as timesaving tools, particularly companies affected by the industry’s labor shortage.

“Year one, when these mowers were introduced, we were a joke and not taken seriously,” says Steven Uljua, Husqvarna’s North American product manager for robotics. “In year two, we were the enemy, and people feared we were replacing human jobs with robots. This year, contractors are embracing us as another tool to help with the labor shortage.”

Brian Chapman

Brian Chapman

Chapman spent about two years testing different robotic mowers, and Lambert’s began installing the Husqvarna Automower early this year. The company is also a full-service Husqvarna Automower dealer that sells, installs and services mowers not only on its clients’ properties but also to the general public. Lambert’s is a $15 million company that offers 50 percent construction and 50 percent maintenance services to a residential clientele.

The installation process starts with a site visit to plan out the mowing area. Chapman, who handles all Automower sales, installations and maintenance for Lambert’s, then uses a perimeter wire machine that buries the wire 2 inches into the ground. Once the wire is buried, it is attached to the base station. From start to finish, the process takes anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the number of obstacles in and size of a lawn.

“As of right now, we are using the mowers on existing accounts that already have mowing time built in, like a lease of the mower through their maintenance contract,” Chapman says. “In the near future, we will be offering the robotic mower as an additional service along with the use of battery-powered equipment for completely quiet, eco-friendly service.”

Lambert’s crews only use push mowers, and Chapman says robotic mowers save anywhere from two to four man-hours per job. Because the mowers can run at any time of the day or night and are completely weatherproof, maintenance schedules are not impacted by rain or other restrictions.

“We have one client whose kids like to play outside in the afternoon so their mower is scheduled to only run at night,” Chapman says. “Others like to watch it mow, so it runs in the evening while they sit outside. I also make sure it does not interfere with irrigation schedules. The runtime is based on each client’s needs.”

Uljua says this flexibility opens up new job opportunities for contractors that may not have been feasible before.

“At most hospitals, for example, noise is very concerning,” he says. “You bring in a robotic mower to do the grass and send in a crew to do the trimming, edging and blowing, and you can get in and out with a small impact on noise.

“This is the future — it’s not going away,” Uljua adds. “It is new technology, and there is some uncertainly, but it’s that see-it-to-believe-it mentality.”

Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.

This article is tagged with , , , and posted in 0919, Featured, Mowing+Maintenance

1 Comment on "Put mowing on autopilot with robotic mowers"

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  1. Do you install at properties where pets have access to the lawn? Dog “droppings” 🙂 are going to be a problem unless the householder remembers to pick up prior to the scheduled mowing time