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Sound, Safety and Sustainability
How all-electric innovation is changing the sound of the landscape industry
Increasing sustainability goes beyond decreasing carbon footprints. While it is a critical component, we have a comprehensive view of sustainability at Scythe that considers the overall impact on the environment. In addition to eliminating their emissions from mowing with the all-electric M.52, we are helping our customers build greener operations in ways you might not have thought about before – like by reducing the amount of sound they make.
Noise pollution could just be the most overlooked element of sustainability for landscape contractors, but the growing adoption of battery-powered mowers and handheld landscape equipment is leading to a distinctly quieter and more sustainable industry.
With noise abatement regulations already in place in many municipalities and gaining traction across the country, landscape contractors are under pressure to ratchet down the decibels. Additionally, many contractors and communities are looking to be less disruptive to the natural environments they live and work in, and sound is an important consideration in that equation.
You could call it “Shhh-ythe M.52”
Scythe M.52 uses special, patent-pending blades to achieve substantially higher efficiency than other electric mowers, allowing much longer days in the field. And by creating less turbulence under the deck, M.52's blades also significantly reduce the noise while mowing.
The lack of an internal combustion engine makes the mower much quieter overall, even without blades spinning. Switching to electric-powered equipment like M.52 can better protect landscape crews and create a healthier, sustainable working environment for them and their customers.
The sound of safety
Safety is paramount at Scythe. It is engineered from the start into the design of M.52 with redundant 360-degree sensors, a rear-discharge deck, and advanced AI to detect obstacles to get every job done safely. Another important part of that safety stack is effective noise prevention.
Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows sustained exposure to noises above 85 decibels (dBA) can increase the risk of noise induced hearing loss. The typical gas-powered mower operates at around 95 dBA: the equivalent of a motorcycle roaring down the street.
“For M.52, we have measured the sound intensity to be around 75 decibels – which is roughly equivalent to a passing car – at the operator,” said Rob McCutcheon, senior staff mechanical engineer for Scythe Robotics. “The lower intensity means that the operator can use the machine more comfortably and more effectively as it allows them to be more aware of their surroundings.”
Maintaining nature’s soundtrack
In addition to helping create a safer work environment, the all-electric M.52 also makes for a more sustainable one. Landscape crews and M.52 operators will feel less impact from the electric equipment, allowing them to work in a more conditions and potentially even increasing employee retention.
M.52 also reduces the impact of landscape operations on the natural environment they are maintaining. Unlike gas mowers, M.52 automatically adjusts the blade speeds (independent of mower speed) depending on the cutting load and customer requirements. This means there is never any more noise than there needs to be.
Noise pollution can have a profound effect on wildlife. For example, take the songbirds that are common in the areas landscape crews service. A recent study out of Pacific University in Oregon found that disruptive loud sounds interfere with their ability to communicate, navigate the landscape, and avoid predators. M.52 and other electric equipment can reduce impacts like these on natural environments.
Plus, as M.52 gets further away, the impact of its sound decreases more and more. A gas-powered operating at 100 dBa will still be as loud as a common busy city street (70 dBa) if it is 100 feet away. But with M.52 operating at 75 dBa, it will only be as loud as office chatter (45dBa) from the same distance. This reduced sound intensity results in less stress for the operator, wildlife in the area, and people nearby.
And the business benefits, too
Finally, in addition to decreased exposure to potentially harmful high noise and vibration levels that are associated with traditional gas-powered mowers and equipment, electric equipment provides landscape crews with business benefits while they sustainably care client properties. These perks go well beyond the gas savings most people think about when switching to electric equipment.
- Start the day earlier: The lower sound intensity with electric mowers and handheld equipment enables landscape contractors to schedule earlier starts and later stops when needed. Quieter equipment means you will not disturb people in the early hours of the day or later hours of the evening.
- Reduce disruption during the day: Electric equipment creates less impact for remote or home-based businesses. Some office parks and school campuses also prefer to be serviced during off-hours or on weekends, but the less sound invasive presence of electric mowers and equipment will allow contractors to mow these properties during regular business hours.
- Expand your portfolio: By using quieter equipment, you may be able to start servicing clients that are sensitive to sound like hospitals, wellness centers, and other facilities that would typically restrict machine usage.
- Increase safety overall: Contractors can also tout the increased safety of operation around pedestrians with mowers and other electric equipment. The lower sound intensity levels mean that operators can be more productive in parks and neighborhoods where pedestrian density is higher.
- Differentiate your proposal: Landscape contractors can submit bids on jobs with the added benefit of being able to say they operate more quietly and sustainably than competing bids. Corporate procurement departments are placing more emphasis in the RFP process on sustainability and deploying emission-free electric equipment can be an advantage.