Town’s green amenities move forward with battery power

The cathedral town of Guildford in Surrey is very mindful of its appearance and well recognised for it, having collected an array of Britain in Bloom and Chelsea Flower Show awards over the years.

It is the latest municipal authority to introduce Pellenc battery-powered hand equipment into the upkeep of its amenity and leisure facilities. The parks department of Guildford Borough Council, which is responsible for all of town’s amenity grass and flora as well as having a contract with Surrey County Council for highways work, purchased a number of Pellenc products from their local dealer Richmonds Grounds Care of Haslemere.

According to the department’s Operational Supervisor, Arthur Kinge, the decision to add this alternative to petrol-powered machines to what is available to its 38 full-time staff was part environmental, part economic. Two of Pellenc’s Airion vacuum blowers, Helion hedgecutter and two pole saws have been in regular use for a wide range of duties in the town for a year now and been well received by operators and the public. The idea is they are very much a multi-use resource and not just for specific tasks.

“We always try to be progressive,” he said. “I first saw Pellenc equipment at SALTEX a couple of years ago and was impressed. Our policy is always to keep trialling new equipment to see if we can do things more efficiently and to find new solutions to problems. It’s part of a conscious effort by the Council to make better business sense of equipment resources rather than cutting back on machines, manpower or jobs. These machines are lighter and cost less to run than their petrol equivalents, but we have a lot of petrol machinery here that functions well, so changing over completely to battery power will be a gradual process dictated by feedback and budgets.

“Hand-arm vibration is one of the biggest issues we have when sourcing equipment. Keeping to within a tally of 400 points per user per machine makes achieving optimum efficiency a constant challenge. The Pellenc equipment is well suited to offering a full day of safe and comfortable usage.

“We always have to be especially mindful of noise levels, especially for work near schools and residential areas. The battery-powered blowers and hedge trimmers have extremely low levels and do efficient jobs much more quietly than petrol machines.”

Within the remit of the Parks and Countryside Service is the 52-hectare Stoke Park and Gardens, now in its fifth year of Green Flag status. This multi-purpose facility dates back to the 18th century and plays host to the Surrey County Show and Guilfest three day music festival.

Etesia announces ‘Green Technology’ Road Show

Etesia UK will shortly be hitting the road, after announcing the dates of their first road show since 2006, with an emphasis on all things green. The 2012 Green Technology Show series kicks off on Tuesday 27th March at Merrist Wood College, Guildford.

Planned as a hands-on, arrive and drive event for all new and existing Etesia and Pellenc customers, the road show will then move on to Edge Hill University, Lancashire on Thursday 29th March, with further dates to be arranged for later in the year.

“Previous road shows we’ve held have been highly successful and extremely well attended,” said Les Malin, Etesia UK’s General Manager. “Commercial users take advantage of the opportunity to try the machines for themselves and gain first-hand knowledge of our full range of products. They will be able to gain advice from our staff and, if required, arrange follow-up demonstrations.”

Open to all, the events, which run from 10am to 3pm, will include the full range of Pellenc environmentally friendly lithium-ion battery powered tools along with Etesia’s electric Bahia M2E, which was first seen at SALTEX last year, the range of robot ETMowers and the 124 Bio Diesel ride-on mowers.

At each event, visitors will be able to take advantage of an on-the-day special offer, which will see them receive a free Pellenc tool. Further incentives and prize draws will also take place. Refreshments and lunch will also be available to all.

In addition to the two road show dates, the company has also confirmed their presence at the Plant Network Conference on Wednesday 28th March at the University of York.

This timely conference will explore horticultural practices in relation to economic, social and environmental challenges that face public gardens and parks today.

Attendance to either of the road show events is free by pre-registration only. Anyone keen to come along should contact their local dealer to book a place, or alternatively, you can register your interest by email. Include your name, company/organisation, which road show you would like to attend, and the number of customers you will be attending with.

Capital Cutting

Launched four years ago Hackney Homes which works in partnership with the London Borough of Hackney Council is responsible for managing council homes in Hackney. A major part of the not-for-profit organisation’s work is to keep the amenity grass in the borough’s 266 estates in top order. Last year, the decision was taken to switch from mulch mowing to cut and collect in an effort to further improve its grounds care service and to upgrade its Audit Commission accreditation from 2-Star to 3-Star, which is potentially a route to higher Government funding.

The organisation bought nine Etesia ride-on mowers – two Hydro 124DN models and seven BLHP’s – from their dealer P. Tuckwell’s of Colchester and the machines are now in full swing across the borough. Here, each of the two models trims the grass at a housing estate in Shoreditch, just a mile from London’s Liverpool Street station. This site, like all the other Hackney estates gets its grass cut once every ten days by the Hackney homes grounds care team.

“There were requests from residents as it is a cleaner and tidy system, so we needed mowers that picked up the grass,” explained Balavant Barber of Hackney Homes, the non-profit organisation, which works in partnership with the London Borough of Hackney.

“The grass we maintain is definitely looking better already.  The job may be taking a little longer because of the collection of clippings, which we deposit at a recycling depot, but because there is no cutting debris it is better for residents and more satisfying for the grounds care team.”

One of the Etesia mowers’ safety facilities – which influenced their purchase – is the protection of the twin blades by two shear bolts. This helps avoid major damage if there is hidden object impact.    

The two larger 25 horsepower 124D machines with the facility for front fitting of hydraulically controlled attachments have multi-purpose adaptability. Leaf clearing in autumn and snow clearing in winter are also on Hackney Homes job sheet, so this added to the mower’s appeal.

The Hydro 100D features a tight 1.1 metre radius turning circle, which Hackney Homes operatives find useful for work on the more restricted sites and for negotiating municipal fixtures like lamp posts. There is no rear axle, so the way is clear for ejection of cuttings.

Both of the new mower models now in use across Hackney have 600 litre grass boxes, which take a lot of filling. They each feature hydraulic lift emptying up to a maximum height of 1.80 metres.

Quietly getting on with things

Charles Rodriguez established Garden Thyme Limited, a grounds maintenance business, to service the Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Middlesex and South West London areas twenty years ago. Initially contracts were confined simply to grass cutting and maintenance on the many housing estates that were springing up in the South of England.

Council housing’s grassy surrounds provide a major source of business and as a result Garden Thyme’s involvement in keeping estates green amenities ship-shape has continued to grow. Grounds maintenance remains the core of the business, but in general the associated disciplines include; arboriculture, park patrol, sports field management and planting and designing new borders.

Charles says that there has always been a pride in minimising the intrusive side of the work that they do: “Most of the sites where we work are sensitive in one way or another. As we work in predominantly residential areas, the sound of petrol machines is not necessarily welcome”.

For weeks on end Charles and his team have the daily task of seeing that not only are the residential areas as leaf and litter-free as possible, but that the surrounds of the play areas are safe from fallen leaf hazards and always look in tip-top order.

Charles’ dilemma had always been keeping a balance between controlling debris accumulation and minimising disruptive noise, so much of the work was previously done by hand. When a petrol blower could be used, the operatives needed air defenders, and so residents did not welcome leaf blowing.

Around three years ago he first saw Pellenc lithium-battery equipment at IOG SALTEX and bought his first piece of equipment – two Helion hedgecutters along with battery pack from his machinery dealer, Richmonds Groundcare of Esher. After the launch of the Airion blower last year, Charles thought this could be the answer his problems.

Weighing only 2.6 kg and with a noise level of just 80 db, it is the lightest and quietest professional blower on the market and can be used near sensitive areas such as hospitals and schools. It is very comfortable to hold owing to the soft touch new generation handgrip and is optimally balanced for natural tilting towards the ground.

The Airion has 4 speeds which easily enable the operator to effortlessly optimise and adjust the speed of the air expelled according to its working environment and the site to be cleaned. Keeping the speed selector button pressed instantly selects the booster mode, giving a maximum power of 750 Watts. This function is especially useful for picking up wet vegetation or heavy waste matter.

“At first, one of the residents at one of our sites thought that the blower was actually broken because it was so quiet!  We can now start work on site earlier which also enables us to get on with other tasks.

“All of the operatives like using the equipment because they are light, quiet and are very low vibration compared to the petrol equivalents. Because the machines are battery powered, we know that they will ‘start’ first time, every time with no risk of the plugs fouling or the pull-start breaking.

“The other advantage is that we no longer have to mix 2-stroke fuel and carry petrol cans with us. The reduction in fuel expenditure is a big factor for us. In a single year we must have saved hundreds of pounds”.

Let it snow. Marwell is ready for it.

One of the South of England’s major year-round attractions, Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire, is poised ready to deal with a repeat of last year’s record breaking winter. The 140-acre site, which is home to more than 180 different species and acclaimed for its conservation work, welcomes nearly half a million visitors each year. It managed to stay operational throughout weeks of snow and ice 12 months ago thanks very largely to the acquisition of a snow blade attachment to one of its mowers.

Lance Ingram, Head of Grounds and Plants for the charity, says M & S Turf Maintenance Machinery of Southampton supplied them with a snow blade to fit its Etesia 124D ride-on mower at very short notice when the weather took a hold last year.

“It did a really good job – absolutely brilliant,” said Lance, whose department looks after Marwell’s Landscape and Grounds maintenance.

“We were able to keep much of our pedestrian areas and car parks pretty clear. Visitors were able to get around the park safely, even when the snow was at its worst. Visitor income is vital to Marwell’s conservation work both here in the UK and abroad, so we wanted to be absolutely ready for any sudden cold snap by fitting our Etesia snow blade ahead of the busy school holiday period. We do now have another larger vehicle -mounted snow plough, but the Etesia is one that is so useful in clearing the tighter areas close to visitor facilities.  

Marwell has two Etesia 124D mowers and they are on duty around the calendar – snow or no snow – fine cutting lawns and amenity grass areas. One of the mowers is also appropriately fitted with an all-weather cab. Lance says that grass cutting at Marwell is carried out either before opening at 10.00am. His team of seven ground persons work in close collaboration with the keepers to ensure the maximum welfare of the 1200 plus animals.

Lance, who has been at Marwell for five years, says he is looking to add at some point in the future of other Etesia attachments and was particularly impressed by the scarifying heads he saw demonstrated at SALTEX in September last year.

New Customer Newsletter Launched

Etesia UK has published a new customer focused newsletter, aptly named ‘Cutting News’, with the first issue now available through their nationwide network of dealers, the company direct and via a digital download on the company’s new website.

The newsletter is in addition to the regular dealer newsletter which the company produces and provides user stories for their range of ride-on and pedestrian mowers, brushcutters as well as the complete range of Pellenc Lithium-ion battery powered equipment as well as details of new products launched and company news.

“I think people will enjoy reading the newsletter,” says Les Malin, Etesia UK’s General Manager. “We always try to be as informative as possible and keep everyone up-to-date with all of our developments. We will be producing the newsletter on a regular basis to both new and existing customers, but if you need any extra help or advice on the range of environmentally-friendly products we offer from both Etesia and Pellenc, we are always happy to speak to you.”

The newsletter can be digitally downloaded by visiting the company’s brand new website – and click on the news section.

Winter Warmers with Etesia

Last winter saw much of the UK grind to a halt by the worst weather seen for over 30 years, seeing  local authorities, landscapers and grounds maintenance professionals struggle to keep roads, paths and car parks safely open for users.

To help keep these areas open this winter, Etesia UK has announced a series of ‘Winter Warmer’ offers on their popular Hydro 100E (MVEHHN), Hydro 100D (BPSP), Hydro 80 (MKHP2), Hydro 100D (BLHP & BPHP), Hydro 124DN and Hydro 124DX four-wheel-drive models with up to £5,000 of savings.

The versatility of Etesia’s ride-on mowers can be enhanced with a range of utility attachments such as a cab, snow blade, salt/sand spreader or brush.

All Etesia accessories are easily fitted to most ride-on models in the range. The front-mounted snow-blade can also be angled left or right and lifted when travelling between sites.  

For safety on icy surfaces, wheel chains which ensure grip to avoid skidding and keep the machine moving in falling and settled snow are also available. The easy-to-attach trailed sand/salt spreader is especially useful on icy roads, walkways and other exposed sites.

One organisation who has recognised the benefit of increasing the versatility of their ride-on mower is Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens and Glasshouse. Malcolm Taylor, who took on the role as Maintenance and Ground Services Manager last summer had been re-assessing the best means of keeping all the grassed and the hard surface in top order at all times.

Previously, grass cutting had been carried out by a triple mower, but this was in need of costly repair, and hard surface maintenance was always a labour intensive business. A single-source unit seemed to be the logical choice and after looking at what machines there were on the market he opted for an Etesia set-up because it offered everything the Gardens needed for surface maintenance.

“The snow plough was in action just after purchase, clearing walkways of the snow earlier this year, and throughout the winter months the brush attachments were in daily use keeping the Garden’s terraces and walkways free of leaves and debris.”

Haileybury makes light of its leaf problem thanks to battery blower

Autumn leaf fall is a massive problem to Eamonn Murphy, Grounds and Gardens Manager at Haileybury, one of the UK’s leading boarding schools, in Hertfordshire. The co-educational public school, founded in 1862, has grounds of over 500 acres with hundreds of trees, most of them native deciduous, with oak, birch and chestnut the principal offenders in terms of leaf shedding.

For weeks on end Eamonn and his team have the daily task of seeing that not only are the school’s pitches as leaf-free as possible, but that the surrounds of the teaching blocks and the main buildings are safe from fallen leaf hazards and always look in tip-top order.

Eamonn’s dilemma had always been keeping a balance between controlling leaf accumulation in the central school areas and minimising disruptive noise. His petrol leaf blowers needed air defenders for the operative, so teachers and the bursary did not welcome leaf blowing albeit necessary. Eighteen months ago he was introduced to Pellenc lithium-battery equipment by his machinery dealer, RT Machinery of Aylesbury.

After a trial period of using these he soon realised that noise need no longer be an issue for work close to school buildings and bought a set of the equipment.  Eamonn has had it in full active use at the school for just under a year now and the Pellenc Airion leaf blower, which weighs just 2.6Kg, is keeping the walkways and drives close to the school free of leaves.

“The acoustics of the school buildings and their surrounds are such that noises are much exaggerated,” said Eamonn. “Control of these light machines is very easy and actually more responsive than our existing petrol ones.  Set on level one, when you’re 10 metres away from leaf blowing, you can barely hear it. Even on the top level four, it sounds a bit like a hair-drier, no more than that.

“At first my staff – and to be honest me too – were a little sceptical about whether such quiet machines would have the power to do the job. We have been proved wrong. Leaf blowing is more than adequately dealt with, and having a multi-purpose power source in the battery back-pack is a real asset. Switching from job to job, which we have to do all the time, is so easy now.  

“The reduction in fuel expenditure is a big factor for us. In a single year we must have saved hundreds of pounds.

“I believe petrol-driven hand equipment will soon be a thing of the past. I pride myself on always looking for the latest and best solutions to problems, especially if they offer an environmentally friendly bonus.  I do not like to stand still when it comes to equipment and methods of working. Health and Safety and EU Directives keep on mounting, so it’s vital to conform or, better still, be ahead of the game. I like to think that, by doing jobs like leaf blowing using battery-power, Haileybury is a pace setter.”   

As a groundsman Eamonn obtained his initial training at Otley College in Suffolk and at Ipswich Town under Alan Ferguson, who is now in charge of pitchcare at the Football Association’s National Centre at Burton. After joining Haileybury as a Deputy Head Groundsman ten years ago, within 18 months, Eamonn took over as Head Groundsman and last year in a re-organisation took on the wider responsibility of Grounds and Gardens Manager, which has given him the opportunity to undertake and manage all operations at the school concerning non-building work.

In his time at Haileybury he has achieved HND in Sports Turf Science at Writtle College. He heads up a team of 13 groundsmen and gardeners and looks after 13 grass pitches for rugby, cricket, football, lacrosse and hockey, plus a sand-based artificial hockey pitch. Thanks partly to him, and with the support of the Bursar, the school is these days self-sufficient in equipment and manpower for all its sports pitch and garden needs.

As well as seeing that Haileybury now has sports pitches to match any at rival public schools, Eamonn has a one rare and notable international distinction. He is the International rugby pitch consultant to Kazakhstan. Haileybury has sister schools in the Euro-Asian republic in Almaty and a recently opened school in the nation’s capital Astana, and through Haileybury’s affiliation with the rugby team (1st team captain undertaking coaching sessions at Haileybury Almaty) was invited to advise on the re-construction and on-going maintenance of its national rugby stadium at Almaty, which he describes as a very challenging, continuous but fulfilling task he carries out with the full support of the school.

New Pellenc Brushcutter Launched

Developed for tough working applications and packed with advanced features for ease of use, Pellenc’s new Excelion brushcutter, distributed in the UK by Etesia UK, is the ideal maintenance tool for professional landscapers and contractors.

Featuring a brand new handlebar design and longer shaft, the Excelion is a unique tool which combines a brush and grass cutter in one: the multifunction head developed by Pellenc can be fitted with either the Pellenc wire made from a very high resistance polyamide or a wide range of metal blades adapted to your work. 

Further benefits include an ergonomically designed adjustable D-handle, flexible head and telescopic system featuring new soft anti-vibration grips for optimal comfort and increased safety. The brushcutter is exceptionally well balanced making it easy to use at varying angles in ditches, on slopes or steep inclines for added versatility. Two times lighter than some petrol brushcutters, the Excelion makes grass brushing and cutting much easier.

The 4-speed selector, exclusive to Pellenc has the durability to withstand tough conditions and demanding projects making it easier to adapt to the vegetation: slow speeds are recommended for edges and urban areas for example. Silent, rapid and extremely lightweight, the Excelion is the new brush cutter for professionals.

As with all other Pellenc products, the Excelion uses the ultra high capacity technology of the ultra lithium battery and guarantees non-polluting, odourless operation with quick start-up and a record operating range.

New Etesia Website Goes Live!

Etesia UK has just launched a brand-new website, showcasing their vast range of ride-on & pedestrian mowers, brushcutters and the complete range of Pellenc Lithium-ion battery powered equipment.

“Following years of being told that our UK website was in desperate need of updating, we are pleased to announce that our new website has now gone live”, said Les Malin, Etesia UK’s General Manager.

With a whole host of new features, the website has been totally redeveloped with both customers and dealers firmly in mind.

“As our customer base and product range continues to grow and expand, so must our ability to keep everyone up-to-date. We have therefore introduced a number of new sections on our website including the full range of Pellenc equipment”.

Other new features include:

  • Dealer locators for both the Etesia and Pellenc range of equipment.
  • A revised and updated product section, all with accompanying images and videos.
  • A warranty registration section for dealers.
  • A dedicated news section.
  • A resource section for useful downloads and links.