The sound case for electric driven mowing against petrol

By , September 18, 2015 3:22 pm

Though the discussions around climate change may have slipped onto the back burner, it is coming back strongly along with the desire for environmental sustainability. Stadium owners and football clubs worldwide are recognising the financial gains and brand value that can be gained by being environmentally friendly. There are many areas of a pitch or stadium that can be investigated for possible savings including water usage and renewable heating facilities but one topic that has yet to be explored is the eco options available in pitch maintenance, more specifically for mowing.

To cater for the needs of Groundsmen, Advanced Turf Technology (ATT) have developed a 30” version of its popular INFiNiSystem™. The 30” INFiNiSystem™ is a ‘true hybrid’ which can be driven either fully electrically via a single or double battery module or by hybrid electric via an engine generator configuration. A recent study at a football club that uses a petrol mower found that fuel costs per mow were £3.52. Based on 10 cuts per week, for 49 weeks of the year, the total fuel expenditure worked out at £1,724.80 per mower. Mow the same pitch with the electric ATT 30” INFiNiSystem™, the same number of times per week and weeks per year, and the club could save a staggering £1,592.50 a year per mower. In simple terms, you can mow a full size football pitch for less than 50p!

When comparing the running costs of petrol driven versus electric one should also take into account the cost of collecting the fuel, and then storing it. Petrol, considered a ‘dangerous substance’ by the Health and Safety Executive, is covered by legislation when it comes to storage because of the potential risk of explosion and serious fire. The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations of 2014 calls for a license to store petrol in certain circumstances, and in itself could involve time and resources to ensure compliance.
Not only is there the cost saving element, the 30” INFiNiSystem™ also operates with a significantly reduced carbon footprint compared to that of a petrol mower. CO2 emissions based on the fuel usage discussed above is 2.4kg per litre of petrol. In the illustration above, the number of trees required to offset the monthly usage would be 1.437, or 17.25 annually.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain. Two regulations within the HSWA in particular are of critical importance to groundsmen and employers alike when it comes to mowing, ‘Hand­arm vibration’ and ‘Noise at Work’ – both conditions more relevant to engine driven machines as opposed to electric ones.

Hand­arm vibration (HAV’s) is a condition caused through too much exposure to equipment that vibrates, affecting the joints, muscular system and nerves most commonly in the hands and wrists. The level of risk depends on the magnitude of the vibration and how long an individual is exposed to it. If caught quickly, the effects of HAV’s may reverse but prolonged use of the wrong equipment will result in irreversible damage. Measured by the acceleration level in m/s2, the HSE sets an Exposure Action Value (EAV) of 2.5m/s2 and an Exposure Limit Value (ELV) of 5m/s2, both over an 8 hour period. This is the maximum value of exposure allowable in a single day. For example, if a piece of equipment has a vibration level of 7, such as a jack hammer, then the operative would have reached their daily exposure limit in just one hour.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. Like HAV’s, noise exposure has action levels and limit values that require adherence with. The exposure limit values are a daily or weekly exposure of 87dB and a peak sound pressure of 137dB.
With the above in mind, many organisations have been tasked to find equipment that transmits less vibration and noise but at the same time still performs the job effectively and efficiently. The market has responded to this with more machines being introduced that are electrically driven – this being the impetus behind the redesign of the INFiNiSystem™ into a dual power source machine. Operating the machine with the battery set-up reduces vibration and enables the operator to carry out functions quietly reducing noise for themselves and the general public. It is these attributes that has seen the ATT INFiNiSystem™ being awarded Quiet Mark status and negates the need for potential purchasers to evaluate the machine themselves for adherence to H&S policies.
Given then, the health risks and the demanding precautions necessary in the use of unleaded fuel, would it not be simpler and more beneficial for all to remove petrol entirely out of the equation?

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