Robots Roll On

Still reeling from the great success they had at Saltex 2017, the UK’s biggest national event for grounds care, sports, amenities, estates and green space management, we speak to the owner of Automated Managed Services (AMS) Philip Sear, to discuss the key differences between conventional driving range equipment and the AMS’s automated maintenance solution.
Q: How did you find exhibiting the robots alongside the more traditional turf care equipment at Saltex?
As first time exhibitors, we were very pleased with the success we had at Saltex. The interest from visitors over the two days was very promising: the more exposure our system receives the more we are seeing a shift in the industry’s mind-set. This aspect is particularly encouraging as we did receive quite a few visits from people coming to seek us out because they had heard great things about our automated system. So there is definitely an interest in automation as an alternative. So overall, yes it was a good show and we look forward to going next year.
Q: How do the robots impact on the environment compared with traditional equipment?
The robots have significantly less impact on the environment as they are powered using a rechargeable battery, so are much quieter and emit 10 times less CO2 emissions, with the energy cost working out at roughly three times less than traditional petrol-operated equipment.
Q: In what way does the system handle ball management more efficiently?
Ball management is handled autonomously, so no human intervention is required. What this means is the balls are collected by the robot ball picker and then dropped into the ball retrieval ditch, and the balls are then transported back to the dispenser by vacuum. During this transportation process, water is introduced and the balls are washed. With the balls returned to the dispenser, this completes the cycle and the balls are ready for use again. Not only does this process create a constant ball supply, but also frees staff members to work on other aspects of running the facility.
Q: How do the robots improve ball retention?
Unlike conventional equipment, the robotic ball collector is lightweight and doesn’t mechanically plug the balls into the ground, so balls are easily retrievable. The robotic mower has ball deflectors that gently push the golf ball out the way so it avoids cutting and damaging them. These design features make ball retention much easier for the facility and reduces expenditure on replacement balls.
Q: How do the robots improve the health of the driving range outfield?
The robots are lightweight, so they do not cause soil damage and the outfield is no longer exposed to the heavy equipment traditionally used. This in turn decreases the overall need for costly treatments such as coring. In particular, the BigMow’s mulching of the grass provides constant fertilisation, eliminating the need for chemical fertilisers.
Q: What are the cost implications?
The robots require no capital outlay; the facility is charged a monthly service fee based on ball output, which covers the ball management and mowing of the outfield. Full service and support is also included. 
This allows facilities to have more structured control over the finances associated with the maintenance of their outfields.  With the automated system only requiring 10 minutes maintenance everyday, they also allow personnel to spend their time on other aspects of running the facility.
If you would like more info about the AMS Outfield Robots, please visit their website or call 01462 676 222