Future of the maintenance industry?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by NewbieOwner, Jun 24, 2002.

  1. NewbieOwner

    NewbieOwner LawnSite Member
    from Alberta
    Posts: 61

    Hey folks,

    Was having a really interesting discussion with the father in law today. Thought I'd pose the question here...

    How much longer are "we" (the professional lawn maintenance industry - more aimed at the mowing side) going to be around for?

    What we were discussing, was with the advent, and improvements in many technologies, GPS, Perimiter fencing. And the autonimous vehicles (auto-driving cars etc) How long will it be until someone comes out with a GOOD autonimous mowing system?

    Sure we've already got that damn lawn roach thing (that solar powered wanna-be mower) There is one in our town (I've seen its work, pretty pathetic) But what happens when the second, third and fourth generations of autonimous mowers come out?

    How long do we have until eXmark, Lawnboy, Toro etc start using some of the new technologies and adapt them to the lawn care industry?

    How will we compete? Sure the first few generations won't be 'real' competition (except for the penny pincher customers) But once they start having the ability to stripe, trim etc? What then? I doubt I could mow or trim in a straighter line than a GPS navigated mower/trimmer, Could you?

    Just wanted to see what you guys had to say, it was an interesting discussion to me (made me ponder how my old Radio control airplane equipment could be connected to the exmark (mow from airconditioned comfort...:D)

    Andrew
     
  2. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    I've thought about that a few times too. But I basically came to the conclusion that unless they invent a REALLY CHEAP robot that can Mow, edge, fertilize, spray weeds in the lawn, pull weeds in the flowerbeds, rake leaves, apply insecticides, adjust sprinklers, blow off the driveways, haul away yard debris, prune shrubs, apply new mulch, aerate, etc. than I think I am pretty safe.

    Most of my customers don't want to lift a finger when it comes to landscaping. It's a lot more than just mowing. I think what we do is difficult to replace.
     
  3. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    It could be awhile before GPS is accurate enough to cut a lawn. Right now the most accuracy you can get is around 3 meters and that would put your mower into the flower beds or the next door neighbor's yard. Stripes would be out of the question at that kind of resolution also.

    The military controls the degree of accuracy that GPS can give and during times of national crisis it is reduced to around 10 meters for public use.

    Rest easy, your craft will still be needed for many years to come.
     
  4. yergus

    yergus LawnSite Member
    Posts: 146

    I serious doubt that any machine could ever give the personalized services that we offer. And if they ever came up with them, i am sure i wouldn't be getting Bill Gates account anyway, after all, he would be the only one that could afford one.
     
  5. BigJim

    BigJim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 382

    Don't lose any sleep on it,lawn guys will be around long after your mowing days are finished.:dizzy:
     
  6. Tony Harrell

    Tony Harrell LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 739

    I thought about that over the winter. I stopped by a RC shop and they gave me all the info I needed. But there's a problem, you'll need your own unique frequency or else the neighbors kid could take over control of your Z. I even thought past the problems and envisioned a trailer loaded with preprogrammed mowers (using GPS) that just get dropped off. I saw a picture of some Japanese guy controlling a Z on a hillside by remote control. It's fun to dream about stuff. That's where a lot of inventions come from. Heck, I had an idea years ago when Timex was making computers and GPS was being installed to have a module for street maps. It's a reality today. I think it's called Onstar.
     
  7. Doc Pete

    Doc Pete LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,469

    Andrew,
    Making an R/C mower is really no problem. On a Hydro it's really very simple. Also, using onboard "fail/safe" and redundant systems you will help get around insurance problems. If I had long wider mows like a see in some pictures I'd build one to use. Also, with today's cheap "helicopter" "Heading hold" gyros, which are terrific, you could make really straight lines without any operator input.
    R/C mowers would greatly reduce operator fatigue, but only for some lawns. IMO, it "is" the wave of the future for a very limited amount of lawns. However, in my opinion, you will/must always have an operator present and because of changing landscapes, you will never go to a fully automated mower than will remember each lawn, plus the insurance companies would not allow it.
    Last, as with your plane and my helicopter, it "will" a take a fair amount of talent for the operator to control the mower from one location, (eye hand coordination) and this may be the limiting factor in making it a reality, or making it a real "well paying" skill. However, for guy's like you and me that already have 20 years of R/C under our belt, we may find out selves in the drivers seat:p (pardon the pun). Oh, if you want to know how to convert a Hydro over the R/C let me know.
    Pete
     
  8. Brickman

    Brickman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,249

    I have little worry about this sort of thing. Like was meantioned before most customers are wanting that personal touch that only we can give. And that lawn care will still be around when most of us no longer have a desire to do it. There are still tons of people in this country that don't want a computer. And how common are those?
     
  9. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    There are always some jobs that a machine cant do alone. Anything can be done but it always cant be done faster, cheaper, or on the other hand Better than a person doing the job.

    I have zero worries about the industry going "automatic" I do see the greater use of PGR's and chemicals to slow the growth but nothing that is going to replace you or I.
     
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    I worry more about them inventing a type of turfgrass that doesn't allow weeds, grows incredibly slow, always stays green, is incredibly wear resistant and is resistant to insects and disease. Once that becomes real popular, we have a little something to worry about.

    People would still need us for mowing, just not as often. That would suck.

    Of course, the first few years, there would be major profit in installing such turf.
     

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