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Green Space Management in Coventry

Back in the year 2000, the city of Coventry passed its entire stock of social housing - 17,500 homes in all - to the Whitefriars Housing Association, one of a number of associations operating in the West Midlands, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, which are now part of the W M Housing Group.

As well as upkeep of the housing stock, an essential part of maintaining and attractive and well-managed environment is care of the grass areas, open spaces and verges - 1.2 million square metres of them in Coventry's case. Until recently, this task was in the hands of contractors, but now Whitefriars has started its own subsidiary, GreenWorks, to maintain the green areas.

Ken Lindsay, supervisor at GreenWorks, has two assistants and 25 operatives to ensure that the rolling programme of work is completed to a high standard.

"When we took over from the contractors, we had nothing," Ken explains "so our first job was to acquire the right equipment. We knew from past experience that Ferris and Wright produce tough, reliable machines so we asked a number of local suppliers to tender. After meeting the teams, we placed the order with T H WHITE's Redditch branch and I'm so glad we did....The support and back-up they have given us - particularly our rep Lee Miles - as we got the new operation up and running, has been outstanding."

GreenWorks has taken delivery of a Ferris FW35 flail mower, a large IS5100 rotary mower, together with five Wright Standers for confined and more difficult areas. Added to that were five Ifor Williams trailers for transporting the mowers to site.

"From a standing start, T H WHITE has helped us maintain an environment we are all proud of " Ken added.

 

6 of the best! Fraikin take their fourth batch of Profihoppers for Harrow.

Over the last decade, the Amazone Profihopper has played a major role in keeping the streets and green spaces in the London Borough of Harrow smart and tidy. The original tender was supplied to the Borough as part of the governments "Street Clean" initiative, which was aimed at improving the look of the local neighbourhood and in the case of Harrow, this meant a switch towards more "cut and collect" to stop grass cuttings and rubbish being trampled into residential properties and businesses from roadside grass verges, green spaces amongst housing and play areas. With initially 13 machines in the fleet, the original PH03 models went to work in and around the Borough in 2005.

From the outset, to assist in removing the cut material from site, a simple "big bag" clip system was jointly developed with Amazone Groundcare and Harrow's Environmental Services Department. The Profihoppers were equipped with a holding system that allowed a dumpy bag to be fastened onto the high-tip hoppers, so that when the machine was emptied, it dropped the hopper contents into the bag, which then automatically released, leaving the full bag on the pavement for later collection by a lorry and crane. This meant a huge reduction in travel times to empty and therefore more time spent mowing - a win-win situation all round!

Now 10 years on, the fourth fleet of Profihoppers has been delivered on the contract, which is now managed on behalf of Harrow by Fraikin Ltd. This time around, the company specified 5 of the new PH1250 4WDi machines and 1 lever-steer PH1250 zDrive machine which will take up its duties in cemeteries in the Borough - the lever-steer system giving it a slightly tighter turning circle for use in and around gravestones.

Steven Brooks for Harrow Council was on hand to receive the new machines and said

"Due to budgetary limitations, we are now cutting less frequently and so it is even more important to be able to collect cleanly from site. The beauty of the Profihopper is its collecting ability in both wet and dry conditions and this means that we can get going first thing in the morning without waiting for the dew to dry off and if we do get caught out in the rain, then we can keep mowing and this significantly improves work rates."

Tim Lane, Director of local Amazone Groundcare dealer T H WHITE was delighted to be able to install the new fleet.

"Our relationship with the Amazone Profihopper goes back many years. We always have a machine or 2 on our hire fleet as well as for demonstration. The flexibility of the PH range means it is perfectly at home when fine mowing on lawns, scarifying, collecting leaves and litter, clearing spring bulbs up, cutting and dropping or cutting and collecting in longer grass. In fact, you name it, the Profihopper can cope with it! It is this degree of flexibility that makes the machine ideal for Harrow."

 

 

With the zDrive still awaiting delivery, the 5 new 4WDi commissioned ready for work at Harrow's Central Depot.

 

Tim Lane of T H White hands over the new Profihopper fleet to Talib Sheikh of Fraikin Ltd and Steven Brooks at Harrow Council.

Biggest ever UK groundcare contract

T H WHITE's Groundcare Division is proud to be a key supplier to the largest grounds maintenance contract ever awarded in the UK.

The five year contract was awarded in February to ISS Facility Services Landscaping by CarillionAmey who last year won five Ministry of Defence (MOD) contracts with a potential value of £4.5 billion working on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to maintain Service Family Accommodation across the UK and Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army infrastructure in sites, including grounds, throughout the UK.

Groundcare isn't normally the first thing that springs to mind in terms of the nation's defence. But when you stop to think about it, the MOD has charge of estates with vast acreage of grass that needs to be mown, maintained and manicured. Besides the fine tradition of presenting a smart appearance at key establishments such as the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, there are also many estates - including RAF bases - where grounds maintenance is an operational necessity. And that's not to mention the hundreds of Armed Services sports fields and the grass in and around Services Family Accommodation areas.

As part of re-equipping the grounds care operation, ISS selected T H WHITE to supply diverse machinery ranging from mowers and tractors to trailers, chippers and even snow ploughs with salt spreaders.

 

    

 

"The choice of T H WHITE was based not only on the company's expertise and ability to recommend the right kit" said Phil Jones, Managing Director of ISS Facility Services Landscaping, "but also on the large portfolio of leading brands for which they hold official franchises. T H WHITE's strategically located Groundcare sites made the logistics of supplying the machines to the many sites across the country much easier, and of course the on-going service support can be provided quickly wherever it's needed."

This new major order consolidates a long-term relationship that began in 1998 when T H WHITE first supplied ISS, which is proving to be beneficial to both parties. Topping the order, negotiated by T H WHITE sales representative Stuart Fry, are 43 of the latest Ransomes HR300 ride-on mowers, which incorporate electronic finger-tip controls, hydraulic drive, the option of rotary or flail decks, cross flow hydraulics for improved traction, 4WD even in reverse and LED road lights.                                                                   Next up are 32 Ferris dual-drive mowers, 29 Ransomes Parkway 3 mowers with a swing-out centre unit for easy access and maintenance, as well as a variety of other mowers for specific applications and specialist tasks. Among these are 18 McConnel SR620/460 flex wing mowers and 11 Iseki SXG ride-on mowers featuring a 54inch rear discharge deck, a large discharge grass chute to eliminate grass blockages and 600 litre hi-tip collection box. Hydraulic power steering and a differential lock gives these mowers impressive all-terrain ability.

As well as mowers, the order included New Holland and Case IH 100hp tractors, Ifor Williams trailers, Greenmech woodchippers and 13 of the innovative GreenTek "Double Quick" aerators which will aerate, roll, rake and brush in one pass.

Some of the sites where the new equipment is being put to work include RAF Valley in Anglesey where Prince William was a search and rescue pilot and the Army Aviation Centre at Middle Wallop where the famous Apache helicopters are based.

ISS is fully committed to the Armed Forces Community, not only were they the first facility management service provider to sign the MOD Corporate Covenant, but they are also to be awarded The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award due to their support of employment opportunities for both Reservists and Armed Forces personnel alike. ISS MD Phil Jones is particularly concerned with problems facing veteran soldiers, especially the unseen mental wounds they often have to cope with. In June, Phil completed the Dolomiti Extreme Trail, a 33 mile endurance event run at high altitudes in the Dolomites, raising money for the charity Gardening Leave, ISS Facility Services Landscaping's charity partner.

As part of its CSR programme, T H WHITE was pleased to support Phil in this challenge by sponsoring him for £1000; in total he raised £7,100, all of which will be used by Gardening Leave to help veterans with mental health issues to return to good health and civilian life through horticultural therapy - a fitting way for people in the groundcare business to help those suffering from the traumas of conflict.

 

 

New thinking at The Sands

 

Farnham Golf Club is a gem. The Sands is an aptly-named location for the club’s 18-hole course which occupies a stunning tract of sandy Surrey heathland, flecked with yellow gorse in early summer and resplendent with vibrant heathers later in the year.

Founded in 1896 by a group of gentlemen who were passionate about their golf, Farnham Golf Club survived two world wars when much of its land was given over to food production, emerging on each occasion as an even better course than it was before. Unlike many modern courses, where the topography has been largely created by man, the course at Farnham exploits the slopes, dips and undulations of the natural landscape. Clever thought and planning has resulted in a series of holes that are testing for experienced players, while still being thoroughly enjoyable for golfers at all levels.

Today Farnham has earned a reputation for greens presented to an exceptional standard thanks to the efforts of course manager Rupert Lawrence and his team. Until recently the club operated a rolling programme of machinery replacement which essentially meant that everything was replaced every 10 years, but this had disadvantages as Rupert explains:

“Whenever we purchased new machines we would devolve the older ones onto lesser duties. That was alright in principle but what it actually meant was that there was always part of the fleet that was costing more to run as it aged. The older machines didn’t offer the same capabilities as the newer ones either, making it harder to maintain consistent standards.”

Rupert came to the conclusion that there had to be a better solution, and at about that time he began talking to T H WHITE Groundcare specialist David Gray.

“David suggested that we consider a leasing plan instead of outright purchase. It made perfect sense – not only would we always have new machines with all the latest developments, but we would also have a fixed annual cost with no surprises, making the most of our budget while continually improving the presentation of the course,” Rupert added.

With the basic decision made, the Farnham team decided on two Jacobsen Eclipse 322 greens mowers, a Jacobsen AR522 contour mower, a Smithco Spraystar 2000 and a Smithco Tournament roller.

The Eclipse 322 mowers have already enhanced the quality of cut on the greens thanks to the variable frequency of cut. This ensures that no matter what the speed of mowing or the way the operator works, the whole green on every hole is cut in exactly the same way, day in, day out. Coupled with the market leading 15-blade cutting units and the True Set cutting adjustment, the units not only cut well but stay ‘on cut’.

Another major benefit is the complete lack of hydraulic oil leaks; there is no hydraulic oil present so there are no costly bursts to clear up. Fuel and service savings make a significant difference to running costs too as fewer filters are used, there’s no hydraulic oil to top up or replace, no associated filters, no hose pipe replacement and no environmental charges. The two-cylinder diesel engine also uses just 0.7 litres per hour, which is quite remarkable.

On the undulating ground the powerful Jacobsen AR522 has 22in pod cutting decks that glide over the contours of the golf course effortlessly providing a striped finished. The tool-less height of cut adjustment was one a key factor in deciding to purchasing this machine.

Complementing the mowers, the Smithco Spraystar 2000 is a dedicated sprayer which provides an unmatched consistent spray finish due to its GPS Raven. Better control is provided using the hydrostatic transmission and cruise control, while the low profile of the machine and low weight makes it ideal for spraying greens as well as fairways.

For the final finish the Smithco Tournament Roller increases green speed by truing-up the greens surface. The 10in rollers spread the pressure per square inch, so even though the Smithco is built to a robust standard the sub surface ground compaction is minimal yet surface trueness is greatly improved.

Farnham’s previous equipment supplier operated a national distribution, but T H WHITE has always given great importance to service at a local level. “That really clinched the deal for us,” said Rupert Lawrence. “Down-time can have a serious impact on the usability of the course and having local support from the T H WHITE dealership has been fantastic. We are extra-lucky because our T H WHITE sales representative, David Gray, actually lives in Farnham so we get a very speedy and effective service every time!”

Working with Warriors

Warriors

Head Groundsman Martin Knight (standing) and Stuart Lambert keep the Worcester Warriors pitch ready for battle.

Few types of maintained grassland take as much of a hammering as rugby pitches. Weekend after weekend through the winter, scrums, tackles and tries all take their toll – the better the match, the more punishment the pitch sustains. The challenge facing the crew that has to get everything looking good again for the next fixture is relentless.

The two-man grounds team at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium is in the top league, having clinched the 2014 Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) ‘Professional Rugby Union Grounds Team of the Year’ award.

Between them, Martin Knight and Stuart Lambert maintain a total of 55 acres – in addition to the Warriors’ stadium and training pitches, there are six senior and 13 junior pitches of varying size – plus an indoor third-generation synthetic surface training area. In their ‘spare’ time they also tend all the mown grass areas around the stadium and the site as a whole. Oh, and just to keep them busy, a further four pitches are being laid out on an adjacent 18-acre site.

During a rare ‘breather’ with a cup of coffee in the team’s bothy, Head Groundsman Martin is full of praise for the unseen help offered by T H WHITE: “When you are up against a heavy workload you really appreciate all the help you can get and our T H WHITE Sales Rep Simon Bingham has been fantastic,” he said. “It’s not just the bigger purchases, but all the help with smaller items – whatever we need, Simon will get it, and dealing with one person who we know will give us a great deal removes a lot of pressure.”

In March 2015 the Warriors took delivery of a new Iseki TH4335 compact tractor from T H WHITE which has already seen a lot of work spraying and pitch marking, but they also currently run an Iseki SXG326 cut and collect mower alongside an older TF 325 tractor. There’s also a Cushman ride-on mower, a Wessex Proline 240 and a Wiedenmann Terra Spike aerator. More hardware is certain to be needed too, with the likelihood of taking on more staff to cover the expanded site.

Martin was originally recommended to T H WHITE by another groundscare professional and he hasn’t looked back since. “Buying the equipment is, in many ways, the easy part. It’s T H WHITE’s back-up and service that really matters – you can’t put a price on that.”

On the playing fields of Charterhouse

Charterhouse

Charterhouse head groundsman David Roberts (left) chose two new Amazone Profihopper 4WDi Smartcut machines.

Charterhouse – one of Britain's great public schools – was founded in 1611 and moved to its present site at Godalming, Surrey, in 1872. The school's magnificent main buildings, designed by the Victorian architect P C Hardwick, watch over grounds that have been progressively enlarged to about 250 acres, today accommodating impressive sports facilities including football, cricket and hockey pitches, as well as a 9-hole golf course – all of which require care and attention. Added to that are extensive amenity areas and landscaped gardens.

Responsibility for keeping the grounds in pristine condition rests with Head Groundsman David Roberts who purchased the first Amazone Profihopper for Charterhouse from T H WHITE in 2010. This outstanding German-designed self-propelled mower and scarifyer features a unique collecting and compacting system which facilitates one-pass, dust-free collection of grass and the debris from scarifying in nearly all mowing conditions.

Unlike many other machines, the Profihopper is not stopped by wet grass. In a single sequence of actions the material is cut, collected and transported to the hopper and compressed by the auger's action. This increases the volume of the hopper from 700 litres to 1000 litres. "Charterhouse's first Profihopper was a stick steer model," says T H WHITE area sales manager David Gray. "In September this year David Roberts decided to upgrade to the latest Amazone Profihopper 4WDi Smartcut, purchasing a second machine at the same time to support the year-round use and flexibility of tasks undertaken.

"The steering wheel control of the new machines makes it possible to maintain straighter mowing lines leading to better presentation results, while four wheel drive delivers even better traction in all conditions.

"Additionally, an increase vertical auger size by 50 per cent enables more material to be collected at greater speeds whilst reducing wear and tear on the mechanical systems. Other design features include the new Smart Cut system and spiralled cutting flail deck giving a smoother, more progressive cut at a reduced noise at more economic fuel rate."