Equipment roundup: Exmark prepares for 2021 product launches

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Photo: ExmarkPhoto: Exmark

Exmark is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Lazer Z commercial zero-turn riding mower by releasing its latest edition of the mower, along with a new stand-on aerator and slice seeder.

The company says what started as one series in 1995 has grown to include four series, and numerous models for 2021, each available in a range of cut widths, fuel options and configurations. Exmark says it offers both gasoline- and diesel-powered Lazer Z models, with decks capable of cutting up to 96-inches per pass.

Exmark says it continues to innovate based on customer feedback, and some of these innovations for 2021 include the updated 96-inch Lazer Z Diesel and the exclusive Exmark Tractus airless drive tires.

On the turf care side, the company says the Z Turf Equipment lineup is expanding for 2021, with a new stand-on aerator and slicer seeder models.

The company says the mid-size Z-Aerate 30 (30-inch aeration width) and compact Z-Aerate 24 (24-inch aeration width) models join the Z Turf Equipment line for 2021.

Exmark says both new Z-Aerate models feature a free-floating center tine design that enables aeration around trees and flowerbeds. The company says up to 1,200 pounds of adjustable down pressure enables the machines to pull plugs up to five inches deep, and intuitive controls are similar to a zero-turn mower.

The company says the dual-drive design powers both wheels for zero-turn maneuverability and traction on any turf, and an available seeder attachment empowers one operator to simultaneously aerate and overseed properties.

Exmark says the Z-Seed slicer seeder is a durable, easy to use machine that performs three jobs with every pass – verticutting, dethatching and overseeding. The company says the hydrostatic drive and powered reverse make the machine incredibly easy to operate.

The company says the large-diameter mixer regulates seed flow based on ground speed for efficient, consistent seed delivery, and durable high-carbon steel blades dethatch existing turf while 40-pound hopper handles large jobs with fewer refills.

Graze introduces next generation of autonomous commercial mowing

Graze recently introduced its new lawn mower model, set to hit markets by 2021.

The company says the evolution of the first Graze fully autonomous, electric lawn mower expands the design to increase efficiency and maintenance speed for mid-to-large sized commercial lawns, enhances cutting blades to perfect trim precision, adds new sensor capabilities to increase safety, improves GPS based mapping and computer vision, while optimizing intelligent and applicable insights through advanced machine learning capabilities.

Graze says analyst reports have found landscaping services in the U.S. generated $101.7 billion in revenue in 2020, while commercial landscaping services (maintenance and general services) have been projected to range between 40 and 60 percent of the overall landscaping service industry in the U.S. Yet, the company says commercial lawn mowing has remained an undisrupted industry.

Graze says it introduced an initial porotype model and applied artificial intelligence and robotics to create a fully autonomous commercial lawn mower. The company says this model will expand the design with optimized features and incorporate in-the-field feedback from industry leaders to bring a sustainable solution to the commercial market.

Photo: Graze MowingPhoto: Graze Mowing

“We are living in new era of artificial intelligence that stands to transform age-old industries,” says John Vlay, CEO for Graze Mowing. “Robotics and automation open up a world of efficiency, and when you apply intelligence, traditional models can be completely re-imagined. I’ve been in commercial landscaping for more than 35 years and can confidently say we built a lawn mower that will bring a new level of quality and safety to the market, and we are doing it sustainably. We are excited to unveil the future of commercial lawnmowing with our new Graze commercial mower.”

The company says the new model comes equipped with longer battery life. Graze says it has built its new model to consistently learn and apply data via an intuitive user experience, improving lawn care and creating new optimization opportunities for fleet operators. The company says machine learning, coupled with computer vision and a system of sensors allows the Graze commercial lawn mower to map job sites, plan and execute mowing paths, avoid obstacles and dangerous inclines (i.e. trees, terrain, people etc.), while continuously collecting and apply data to further improve aesthetic quality and efficiency.

Powered completely by electric and solar panel technology, Graze says this model allows operators to maximize revenue by deploying mowers during evening hours.

The company says current fleet operators manage 500 to 1,000 mowers, and replacing a fleet of 1,000 mowers with Graze’s electric mowers would be equivalent to removing over approximately 37 million cars from the road.

Great Lakes Dredging utilizes Ditch Doctor

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company says its rivers and lakes division was recently faced with sediment-filled ditches and pockets of connecting standing water on a large dredging project in Argenta, Illinois.

Because of this, the company says a unique attachment called the Ditch Doctor turned out the be the right fit.

Great Lakes says it was contracted by the City of Decatur in April of 2020 to dredge sediment from the 3,093-acre Lake Decatur. The objective was to increase the storage capacity for the local drinking water supply. The contractor completed that work in November of 2019 and returned to the Oakley Settling Basin (OSB) in April to finish up the dewatering ditches and the landscaping. Great Lakes says it had cut out the ditches in mid-2019, but they had since refilled due to the viscosity of the material.

“The job here was to put in drain tiles and ditch it so that there’s no standing water and that over the years it will dry and return to farmland,” says Tim Cantwell, project superintendent. “We had about 6,000 feet of ditches that were cut all the way around the perimeter, in addition to cutting some new ditches going to the standing pockets of water.”

Photo: Ransome AttachmentsPhoto: Ransome Attachments

Cantwell recalls the process to find the right tool for ditch maintenance. Great Lakes says it had seen an attachment similar to the Ditch Doctor in Louisiana prior to April, but it was too large and required a hydraulic drive unit to be mounted on the back of the excavator.

Its site manager conducted an internet search and came across video footage of the Ditch Doctor and contacted New Jersey-based Ransome Attachments. The Ditch Doctor was smaller, lighter and able to mount directly onto an excavator.

Ransome says it supplied a 22-inch Ditch Doctor with wet scroll case in May of 2020, and Great Lakes mounted it on a Cat 324DL long reach excavator and proceeded to complete more than 2,500 linear feet of ditch maintenance. The ditches were an average of four-foot-deep and 10-foot-wide with varying sediment depths.

The company says the detachable wet scroll case was chosen because it would allow Great Lakes to ditch in up to three feet of water. Most of the ditches contained a mucky combination of clays and organic materials and puddled water with minimal vegetation on top and rocks that had settled on the bottom. Great Lakes says the alternative, a dry scroll case, is best suited for ditches with one foot or less of water.

Great Lakes says it also used the traditional method, a ditching bucket, which allowed for a side-by-side comparison. The contractor has traditionally used a pump to dewater the trench to the greatest extent possible before excavating, but Great Lakes says it had a custom adapter plate made for the quick coupler so changing attachments was a matter of switching out a 70- and 80-millimeter pin.

At its core, the company says the Ditch Doctor is a ditch maintenance attachment, and the bucket work was required when Great Lakes encountered virgin clay while digging new ditches.

“The bulk of the work – roughly 80 percent of it – was in previously dug ditches that had filled in,” says Cantwell. “The Ditch Doctor worked really well because it just took the sediment that filled those ditches in and blew it right back out.”

“If you have the proper conditions, it’s (Ditch Doctor) at least twice as fast as excavating with a bucket,” says Cantwell, noting that having enough water to slurry the material is key. “It did a really good job of cleaning out ditches that had just filled in with the sediment and blew it out of there, kind of like a snowblower.”

The company says one of the Ditch Doctor’s benefits compared to conventional methods is that no hauling off site is required. Great Lakes says it used the Ditch Doctor to project material as far away from the ditch and into the impoundment basin as possible, and it was able to adjust the RPM output on the Ditch Doctor to help determine the projection distance.

The company says the projection distance was mainly controlled by the thickness of the sediment and water content, according to Cantwell.

“If there was a lot of water, you could throw it 25 to 30 feet,” he says, adding that most of the material is in such a wet form that it self-levels within 24 hours. “And other times, you were into thicker, heavier material with more clay, and it would project 10 to 15 feet.”

Although Great Lakes says it had entered into a rental purchase agreement, it ultimately decided not to buy the Ditch Doctor because they say no fiscally responsible contractor wants a piece of equipment sitting idle.

“We’ve never used anything like this before,” says Cantwell. “It’s a unique piece of equipment, so if you have steady work for it, it’s fine. If we get a future project that’s the right fit, we know it will be available from Ransome.”

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