Adding Autonomous Mowers to Your Fleet

For Ohio-based landscaping company Environmental Management Inc.’s, staying ahead of the competition means looking ahead to new technology.

“For EMI, being an early adopter of new technology and leading the industry is part of our culture,” said EMI’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Greg Davis. “Sure, we have staffing issues just like many other landscapers across the country, but that wasn’t the catalyst for our purchase (of autonomous mowers). We don’t want to find ourselves reacting to change. We want to be proactive so that we get buy-in from our team and stay ahead of the learning curve.”

RC Mowers landscaper
RC Mowers autonomous mowing robot

EMI purchased two RC Mowers Autonomous Mowing Robots (AMRs) in 2023 and immediately put them to work on their customers’ green spaces.

“These mowers have been great for us,” he said. “The service has been top-notch, and RC Mowers’ transparency surrounding the new technology has produced an open dialog.”

Davis said one of the major selling points he considered when making the decision to go with the RC Mowers AMRs is the ability to build their self-driving mowers using existing technology and logic.

“They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Davis said. “RC Mowers built their AMRs using mowers that have been proven in the market. Many other companies have tried to build their self-driving mowers from the ground up. What RC Mowers has done is take the existing state-of-the-art mowing equipment and turn it into a self-driving mower.”

“This industry has had labor shortages for years,” he said. “This is nothing new. But the AMR is not a technology that is going to replace jobs. It supplements our gaps. We still have the need for skilled labor, and the AMRs can mow so our team members have the time and ability to do the detail work they’re good at.”

Bottom Line Impact

“The mowers will be paid off in three years, but we’re already seeing improvements in longevity,” the strategic manager said. “Because they won’t run into or over things, they aren’t getting beaten up in the field, and we anticipate this will make them last longer. With our other equipment, we have to retire it after three or four years, but these mowers will last five or six because they aren’t run hard or accidentally wrecked.”

Davis recommended that any company considering purchase of new autonomous mowers should appoint one person to be the advocate and learn the machines’ existing and future abilities.

“Tasking someone to learn the machines and their abilities has helped EMI remove any barriers that we might have experienced,” he said. “Find a champion on your staff and put them in charge of your AMRs. This will help you find the best ways to adopt this technology to your team, your clients and your business.”

EMI had an established relationship with Colin Busse, an RC Mowers representative and autonomous product specialist. “We believe strongly in nurturing lasting partnerships,” said Davis, “as they are key to our sustained success and growth. This trust with RC Mowers played a crucial role in our decision-making process.

He said EMI clients were eager to have autonomous mowers on their sites. “We attribute this enthusiasm largely to our approach in client communications,” he said. “By framing the technology as not just innovative but also as a value-add for their sites, we managed to create a strong, positive reception for these mowers among our clientele.”

Field Staff Response

“Our field staff has warmly welcomed the AMR autonomous mowers,” said Davis. “These mowers have freed them to focus on tasks that enhance customer experience and improve overall service quality. This technology has also added excitement in the workplace. By integrating these advanced tools, our staff are not only improving their operational efficiency, but also gaining opportunities for career advancement within EMI.”

Davis said the integration of the AMR autonomous mowers was swift and efficient. “The technology is user-friendly,” he said, “allowing for quick adoption. Our primary focus has been on optimizing the mowers’ performance for each property, a process where we’ve seen significant success.”

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