As one of the industry’s leading sports turf contractors, Premier Pitches become exceptionally busy as the football season approaches, and the Turf Tank One has been the perfect tool to ease the demand on staff.
The central core of Premier Pitches business is sports turf renovations at Europe’s leading football clubs, but they also have several ground maintenance contracts between August and April. These include grassroots football and rugby up to a semi-professional level at 20 pitches, with marking and overmarking a part of the service.
Liam Reynolds, Sports Turf Contractor at Premier Pitches, along with Director, John Woolfall, approached the idea of robotic line marking during the Covid pandemic and were quickly convinced of its merits after a demonstration of the Turf Tank One.
“We got in touch with Matt at Turf Tank, and he came out and did a demonstration for us and for how quickly he went to one of the pitches, found the sockets, put in the dimensions and then marked it out almost from scratch – that sold it in itself to us,” Liam explains.
“We’d be using three people for three or four hours to mark it out from scratch, but it had it done in three-quarters of an hour and then when you times that by 20 – especially for the initial marks – it is a significant saving.
“During furlough, we had one member of staff marking, and it took him all day to mark one pitch out on his own from scratch because he was up and down with his tape measure and stringing lines, but with the Turf Tank One, you can just go again. You put the GPS where it needs to be, and the robot knows where the pitches are, and it’s a 25-minute job in the future.
“It’s been very accurate for what we want to do. Week on week, you put the base station in the exact same place, and you can see to almost a millimetre that the robot is following the same line as what it put down last week.”
Whilst the practical application of the robot has been impressive, the ease of use has also come as a surprise to Liam and the team. After initially thinking programming and operating the robot might be daunting for some of the older staff, the simplicity of the Turf Tank app means anyone in the company can now go out and mark with the robot.
This has led to Premier Pitches expanding the remit of the Turf Tank One to offer an initial line marking service at training grounds in addition to renovations. The aim is to help turf professionals take full advantage of their time in the same way the Premier Pitches staff do on their contracted work.
“We can turn up at the beginning of the season, set the pitches out and then hand them back to the groundsmen, and then, once the lines are down, it’s easier to follow them and keep the pitches in place.
“One thing we did stress to the staff at Premier Pitches was we weren’t getting it to replace anybody; we were getting it as an extra member rather than a replacement. So the robot is a member of staff, and its job is to mark the pitches out and whilst it’s doing that, it allows the other members to do other work on the sites that in the past either hasn’t been done or has been a low priority because the priority is the pitches.
“It gives people that bit of extra time, and we can give the pitches that bit of extra care. It improves the quality of service that we can offer our existing clients, so rather than us just going out and marking the pitch out whilst it’s marking, we can tidy the site up and make it cleaner and tidier and go into that extra detail.”
For more information on the Turf Tank One or to have a demonstration contact email@example.com (southern UK) or firstname.lastname@example.org (northern UK).