Field Report: Scythe Completes First Test Deployment with Turfscape

M.52 earns high marks mowing at John Carroll University

The 2023 mowing season was the most active yet for Scythe M.52. Partners across Texas, Florida, and Colorado deployed the fully autonomous, all electric mower on commercial properties as they adopt cutting edge technology to transform their businesses. 

This year we also launched a small-scale test deployment with Turfscape, a landscape contractor that specializes in creating and maintaining commercial properties in northeastern Ohio. Partnering with Turfscape allowed us to gather insights on mowing in a new region, assess cut quality on sports fields, and test remote serviceability for the machines. 

While the testing was regionally specific, the findings on the performance of M.52 and its integration with the Turfscape crew are applicable to landscape maintenance operations everywhere.

Test Deployment Details  

The Turfscape team operating on-site at John Carroll University deployed a pair of Scythe M.52 units to the 60-acre university campus just outside of Cleveland. 

Scythe + Turfscape 4

In addition to the testing objectives described above, the goal was to:

Improve the operating efficiencies and service quality of Turfscape’s on-site crew as they maintain the school’s public spaces as well as its baseball, softball, and athletic practice fields at a championship level. 

With a full-service grounds maintenance program that includes lawn care, mowing and maintenance, trash patrol, and spring and fall cleanup, time is a precious commodity for the Turfscape crew. Further, servicing a prestigious university means expectations for a pristine look are even higher than other commercial properties. 

Turfscape must deliver high-impact work with limited resources, which is exactly where M.52 comes in. Leading the crew, Turfscape field manager Joe Laduca and job supervisor Taylor Laduca quickly took ownership of M.52, realizing the mower’s potential to positively change how they performed their jobs. 

Increased Productivity 

With their old manual equipment, the Turfscape operators were tied to their mowers and could not multitask, but the arrival of M.52 immediately multiplied what they could do. 

“Before M.52, I would alternate weeks trimming and edging the baseball and softball fields,” Taylor said, describing the task flow for maintaining the athletics complex. “But now with the robot on the crew, I can do both on a weekly basis, assuring that the quality is always up to par.” Taylor is also able to lay the chalk lines, hand water the infield, and pick up trash before each practice, getting more done with M.52 than he ever could before. 

Turfscape job supervisor Taylor Laduca working alongside Scythe M.52

Autonomous mowing with Scythe allows Joe to focus on the rest of the program’s requirements across campus and proactively tackle the to-do list. “When M.52 is on the job, I can concentrate on my customer’s needs and do more of the detailed work – pruning, weed pulling, and inspections. We can take care of the stuff I have always wanted to do but didn’t have the time to before.”

The Turfscape operators claim using M.52 was equivalent to adding another crew member to the team (without adding labor costs), as it increased efficiencies and expanded the work the crew could do with the time allotted. 

Greater Client Satisfaction

Getting more work done to a higher level of quality increased overall client satisfaction at John Carroll University. “Everyone has noticed a difference with M.52 being on campus,” Joe said about the school’s reaction to their maintenance services this season. “They are able to see how much more we've been able to get done with the same amount of people.” 

The impressive cut quality delivered by M.52 is especially notable on the baseball fields, where the mower lays stunning stripes that impress athletes and fans alike. “I love the absolute straight lines that M.52 will lay down. Really it’s amazing what the machine can do,” Taylor said.  

He added that the university’s coaches and athletes greatly appreciate the extra attention to detail the crew has provided now that M.52 frees them up to do more. “It just gives that professional look to the field.” 

Scythe M.52 Sports Turf

The benefits of M.52 are experienced across campus, too. The battery powered M.52 operates quietly and does not disrupt study sessions or classes. And with no emissions, M.52 aligns with the university’s sustainability initiatives. 

Students are also regularly interested in M.52, stopping as they walk across campus to take photos or ask the operators questions. They are impressed to see this type of technology used at their school, driving satisfaction beyond the main client. “People are in awe about M.52! Everyone is amazed. Everyone has questions,” Joe said. 

Operator Engagement 

In addition to the benefits their clients experience, Joe and Taylor fully enjoy mowing with M.52, too. They both feel the possibilities are endless when adding it to a crew.

“One of the most common questions I get is, ‘Are you afraid that it’s going to take your job?’” Joe explained. “And the answer is, no I’m not. At first I was a little skeptical like that, but now that I’ve mowed with M.52, I couldn’t imagine working any other way.” Taylor shared a similar sentiment on the same topic: “Adding technology like this will benefit everyone and won’t take jobs away from crews. It will help crews accomplish more and do a better job overall.” 

The operators also describe a sense of empowerment and pride they feel when mowing with M.52. “It’s a really cool feeling knowing that people want to check in and see what we are doing,” Joe said. 

Turfscape Operators x Scythe M.52

“Not to sound cliché but being on M.52 kind of makes me feel like a boss,” Taylor elaborated. “You really do feel a kind of empowerment knowing that there is nothing like this nearby and I’m the one operating it. I get a lot of joy seeing people and their smiles as it goes by.”  

A critical element in a successful deployment of autonomous technology is excitement about its potential from the top-down, which leadership at Turfscape embraced from the start. They helped operators understand M.52 will improve the quality of their work and advance their careers. If operators are excited and feel supported by management, the deployment will be beneficial for the crew, the company, and their clients – just like it is at John Carroll University. 

More Mowing, More Growing 

While the mowing season in Ohio wrapped a few weeks ago, the Turfscape crew is eager to get going again with M.52 come springtime. In an expanded pilot deployment, the operators will put two of the next generation of the machine to the test. A sister company of Turfscape’s located in the same region will also deploy new units, sharing in the success experienced from mowing with M.52 and providing further insight for product development.  

“It’s important for us as an innovative company to stay ahead of the curve,” Joe said in closing about the future of robotics and Turfscape’s expanded partnership with Scythe. “We want to be sprinting with this technology while everyone is crawling.”

Scythe at Turfscape HQ

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