Future Focused Tech
This panel of forward-thinkers identifies what new technologies will push the industry forward.
By Christina Herrick
It’s an interesting time for the green industry in 2022. Robotics, battery-powered equipment, and new software look to take the industry even more toward the future.
Michael Mayberry, chief technology officer for Level Green Landscaping in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, says “things are moving so quickly that it’s hard to really know what’s going to stick and what’s not going to stick.”
But Mayberry, along with Utkarsh Sharma, CEO of Siterecon, a software company that automates measurements for project estimation, will attempt to make sense of technology in the coming years during a panel discussion at the 2022 Equip Exposition titled “Tomorrow’s Tools… Today,” held Wednesday, Oct. 19, 9 – 10:30 a.m.
Mayberry and Sharma will join other industry professionals to showcase what advancements will have the biggest impact on green industry operations in the next 5 to 10 years.
Mayberry says most companies already use some form of automation, whether it’s text alerts for services or automatic emails for potential clients. Operations will continue to add more and more automation to streamline processes.
“There’s a lot more automation that can happen and will happen in the next five years because the technology already exists for that to occur,” he says. “I think 10 years is really the tipping point for robotics. I think in 10 years, robotics will be mainstream.”
Mayberry expects even smaller operations to sell and deploy robotic mowing services to cover more ground and maximize the detail work human employees can do.
Operations will automate enhancement sales and account management, using data pulled from the fleet of robotic mowers and artificial intelligence (AI) to help recognize patterns and potential upsells on properties. Mayberry says he expects robotic mowers will spot problem trees or limbs, drainage, and turf issues.
“That’s where an account manager who’s currently managing $1 million today can easily manage $2 million in 10 years when they’re not having to write those low-hanging proposals,” he says. “They can focus on client connections and the larger install projects that are really going to spruce up a property that a robot can’t do.”
More data, more insights
Sharma adds he expects geographic information systems (GIS) tracking and AI will play a bigger role in crew deployment. Operations managers will learn more about when and how a crew uses equipment, which will also help inform operations of the need to purchase equipment.
“Location tracking sensors will give real-time insights into crew efficiency, equipment utilization, and production rates,” he says. “The real efficiency gain lies in tracking every equipment, every crew member. The key piece of the puzzle here is AI. It crunches all that data to surface actionable insights. Operations managers can leverage these insights to implement process changes in the job flow and rationalize equipment investments.”
Sharma also expects future updates of production software to include GIS data with crew deployment for all accounts. This will help streamline internal communication about safety risks, customer requests, and any other service issues.
And for the type of equipment used? Sharma and Mayberry expect that battery-powered and electric equipment will become the predominant type of equipment used at job sites within the next 5 to 10 years.
“I think we’ll see a big decline in gas engines over the next five years and a bigger push towards electric,” Mayberry says. “10 years out, we’ll probably be getting close to mostly electric at that point.”
The author is Editor of Landscape Management magazine.
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