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Peyton Panik

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Jul 3, 2024

6 minute read

Fleet Management Blog

How Should Landscaping Fleets Approach Robotic Mowers?

Next month, Fleetio is headed to the Lawn and Landscape Technology Conference in Atlanta, and it has us thinking a lot about what the future of landscaping tech looks like. But one of the things that is so fun about the fleet space is that the future is already here.

How Should Landscaping Fleets Approach Robotic Mowers?

Plenty of landscaping fleets are already tapping into autonomous technologies that help drive their productivity and scale their operations. If you’re a landscaping fleet that values innovation and you’re looking to expand the tech touchpoints in your organization, you may find some immediate payoff in exploring autonomous tools. Let’s take a look at the future of fleet technology, what we mean when we talk about autonomous tools and explore some of the benefits of utilizing robotics in landscaping.

The rise of autonomous tools in landscaping

The landscaping industry has seen a significant surge in the adoption of autonomous tools over the past few years. As technology advances, more landscaping companies are integrating robotic mowers into their fleets to enhance efficiency and productivity. According to recent market research, the global market for robotic lawn mowers is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.2% from 2021 to 2028. This growth is driven by the increasing demand for automation in landscaping as well as advancements in robotic technology that have made these tools more reliable and effective.

Robotic mowers have seen substantial improvements in their capabilities including better navigation systems, enhanced battery life and more precise mowing patterns. This makes them a far more viable and consistent option for many landscaping fleets.

Benefits of employing robotic mowers in landscaping operations

Landscaping fleets utilize robotic mowers in various workflows, depending on the nature of their projects and client needs. Typically, these mowers are deployed in specific areas for continuous operation. They can be set up to work autonomously for several days at a time, especially on larger properties or commercial sites that require constant maintenance. In some cases, landscaping companies may lease out robotic mowers to clients for ongoing use, ensuring that lawns are maintained regularly without the need for frequent manual intervention.

Robotic mowers are particularly effective for large-scale or more curated landscaping projects where consistent quality and maintenance are important. They are less likely to replace crews that perform quick, high-volume tasks but rather complement them by handling the routine mowing. This allows human workers to focus on more detailed and specialized landscaping tasks, enhancing the overall service quality and efficiency.

Robotic mowers are best suited for:

  • Large Commercial Properties: Where consistent, high-quality mowing is needed, robotic mowers can operate continuously, ensuring the property is always well-maintained.
  • High-End Residential Properties: Homeowners who want immaculate lawns without the hassle of frequent maintenance can benefit from the precision and consistency of robotic mowers.
  • Public Parks and Recreational Areas: These spaces require regular upkeep, and robotic mowers can maintain the grass at optimal lengths without disturbing park visitors.
  • Specialized Landscaping Projects: For projects that involve intricate lawn designs or require precise mowing patterns, robotic mowers can deliver the necessary accuracy and consistency.
Pro Tip

It’s important to note that the type of robotic mower you buy for your fleet will influence a lot of its efficacy, as well as the terrain it will be servicing. Consider your clients' needs as you explore models and ensure that the mowers can handle navigating the area it will service.

Efficiency and productivity

One of the primary benefits of robotic mowers is their ability to operate continuously, which can reduce downtime and increase overall productivity. Unlike traditional mowers that require regular breaks for refueling and maintenance, robotic mowers can work for extended periods with minimal interruption. Landscaping companies that have adopted robotic mowers often report significant increases in productivity, allowing them to take on more clients without additional labor costs.

Cost savings

Robotic mowers also offer substantial cost savings for landscaping fleets. The reduction in labor costs is one of the most significant advantages as robotic mowers can operate independently, freeing up human workers to focus on more complex tasks. On top of that, the precision of robotic mowers leads to less wear and tear on the equipment, resulting in lower maintenance costs. The initial investment in robotic mowers can be offset by long-term savings in labor and maintenance, providing a positive ROI for many companies.

Environmental impact

Robotic mowers can help companies contribute toward their sustainability goals by consuming less fuel and producing fewer emissions compared to traditional gas-powered mowers. Their electric operation effectively reduces the carbon footprint of landscaping activities, aligning with the growing trend toward sustainability in the industry. Robotic mowers can also create healthier lawn environments by maintaining consistent mowing patterns, which can promote even growth and reduce the likelihood of lawn diseases.

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Challenges and considerations for fleet managers

There are still several challenges and considerations for fleet managers to keep in mind despite the merits of an expanded robotic fleet.

Cost Barriers

The initial investment in robotic mowers can be significant, especially for smaller landscaping companies with limited budgets. The cost of purchasing and deploying fleet technology may be daunting, and the ROI might not be immediately apparent long-term cost savings and productivity gains can offset this initial expense.

Terrain and Suitability

Robotic mowers are most effective on relatively flat and obstacle-free terrain. Landscapers working in areas with complex landscapes, steep slopes or other obstacles might find these machines less efficient.

Maintenance Skills and Training

Implementing new tech into a landscaping fleet requires training and upskilling staff to manage and maintain these advanced machines. Technicians need to be familiar with the specific requirements of robotic mowers, including software updates, battery maintenance and troubleshooting common issues.

Safety Considerations

Safety is of utmost importance when deploying autonomous tools in any setting. While robotic mowers are designed with numerous safety features, like sensors to detect obstacles and automatic shutoff mechanisms, there is, of course, still a need for caution. This should include setting up appropriate boundaries and ensuring that the mower operates in areas free of pets, children and other potential hazards. PRO-TIP: One thing landscaping fleets shouldn’t worry about is outmoding their human staff. There will always be a place for a personal touch in client-facing industries – a robot mows a lawn really well, but it can’t foster relationships and provide customer service, and it certainly can’t maintain itself.

Other opportunities for landscaping tech

In addition to robotic mowers, there are several other opportunities for technology integration in landscaping. AI-assisted technology, such as machine learning and metering, can help optimize landscaping operations by providing data-driven insights. Tech-driven sustainability initiatives, like switching from gas to electric equipment and implementing fire prevention technologies, can further enhance the efficiency and environmental impact of landscaping fleets.

The future of autonomous landscaping tools

Looking ahead, the market for autonomous landscaping tools is expected to continue evolving over the next 5-10 years. Emerging technologies, like advanced AI and machine learning, will likely complement robotic mowers, providing even greater efficiencies and capabilities. These advancements may lead to changes in landscaping fleet management practices, requiring fleet managers to stay updated on the latest trends and technologies – that’s where things like the Lawn and Landscape Technology Conference that we’re going to in July come into play.   As the industry evolves, so too will the software solutions that support landscaping fleets. Landscaping fleet software will need to adapt to incorporate new autonomous tools and provide comprehensive management capabilities, and that evolution will enable fleet managers to streamline their operations further and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

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About the Author

Peyton Panik

Peyton Panik

Content Marketing Specialist

Peyton Panik is a Content Marketing Specialist at Fleetio. When she’s not writing, she’s probably churning through a new book or watching a movie she’s already seen 15 times.

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