Overcoming labor shortage with the help of a robot
Like many others, Botetourt County, Va., was facing a common challenge in the turf industry, a labor shortage.
Wayne Carter is the athletic fields manager for the county, and, together with his team, he is responsible for managing 40 fields throughout the county. They maintain a blend of warm- and cool-season grasses, with a variety of sports layouts, from soccer and football to baseball, tee-ball, and softball, distributed across parks, sports complexes, and public schools.
Over the years, finding qualified workforce willing to maintain all the fields proved to be quite difficult for the county.
“For us to really paint a field properly, it could take up to four people and a lot of hours,” said Carter. “Then you have to count on the equipment functioning properly, the stress of getting it all done and not making mistakes and doing a good job and somebody having to mix the paint correctly. A myriad of issues with doing it by hand. It was just a very labor intensive, demanding process.”
As any sports field manager knows, line marking is just one of the many jobs on the to-do list, but probably the most tiring and time consuming. But ever since Botetourt County added the Turf Tank line marking robot to their team, things completely transformed.
“Turf Tank was the best option for us as far as combining resources and being able to multitask on the job.”
With the advancement of technology, Carter believes that the industry became more attractive. Instead of working endless hours, dragging strings, doing manual measurements and pushing a line marker up and down the field, turf managers can rely on a robot to help them perform the tasks easier and faster than ever.
“Now, painting a soccer field takes 20 minutes,” he said. “And it’s a one-person job. It doesn’t take two people to string over and over again. It’s really opened the doors for us to do other tasks. Instead of spending the majority of our time painting fields, we can do other things to help.”
Moreover, with the time saved on painting fields, the crew is now free to focus their attention on tasks that typically got neglected. Carter is proud that they can paint more than the lines on the field. The robot’s letter and logo creation features give them the opportunity to make their own mark on the fields.
“Not only do we have a great field painted, but we added endzone zone letters, made a stencil, put a special message on the field,” said Carter.
For the Botetourt County, having this cutting-edge piece of technology as part of their fleet of equipment gives them a competitive advantage. It shows the community they are making progress. It shows they are forward-thinking and open to invest in technologies which increase their efficiency, and consequently saves citizens thousands of dollars every year.