You're in charge of looking after the grounds of a leading educational institution, with large grass areas and lots of sports pitches. You've got to maintain a full-time cutting schedule, so you can't afford delays and can't take a break just because it's raining.
Obviously, you want to cut costs as far as possible, so you want a machine that is easy to operate and maintain, is efficient to run, is not easily damaged and not costly to repair.
Given the demanding schedule, the less downtime the better, and if the machine does the cutting and rolling at the same time, that's a big bonus. And, since you have a variety of pitches and grass areas to cut, you want a machine that can be adjusted easily to suit the job.
You need a machine that will do an outstanding job - worthy of an institution of international status. In other words, it has to cut the grass, cut your costs, and cut the mustard!
Testing challenge at outstanding college
That was the challenge for Hartpury College, an outstanding college of further education, situated in the village of Hartpury in Gloucestershire.
It has a beautiful 200-hectare campus and a lively community of 3,200 full-time students studying further and higher-education courses in animal, equine, land and sports sciences.
A team of gardeners look after the site for the equestrian school, orchard, accommodation environment, open spaces and gardens, and a fishing lake. The sports facilities include five full-sized rugby pitches and extensive grass training areas, partly used by professional players. The college is a major equine events venue and has hosted international events.
In April this year, the college decided to replace its old mowers with a new MAJOR 8400GR Roller Mower. So how has it worked out? Has it met expectations?
Challenge 1: Cope with a demanding, full-time schedule
The Grounds Manager is Tony Hawker. He has worked for over thirty years as a groundsman, the last nine at Hartpury. He and his team have their work cut out. "That's why we chose the MAJOR Roller Mower," Tony says. "This machine can continue cutting even when raining and gives a great finish."
A bonus is that a slip clutch protection on the PTO protects the main drive. If the machine hits something, the slip clutch is activated and automatically resets itself. That means the operator can continue to mow, without any disruption to the cutting schedule.
Overall, says Tony, "The MAJOR 8400GR can get through the workload quicker than previous machines, saving labour hours and fuel." And, he adds, "We don't need to roll the rugby pitches after cutting anymore, as this machine rolls the ground as it cuts."
Challenge 2: Be able to cope with a variety of pitches and grass areas
No problem - on the MAJOR 8400GR, the cutting height is adjustable, so, as it moves around the 200-hectare campus, it moves up and down to suit the terrain.
Challenge 3: Is easy to operate and maintain
The mower is a cinch to operate and it has self-lubricating bearings, so there's no need to waste time in daily greasing. The durable full-length rollers at front and rear of the cutting deck help to create a seal and maintain updraught for effective cutting. These rollers are fitted with internal bearings and seals, which prevents contamination by water and dust. Time and money saved.
Challenge 4: Not easily damaged and not costly to repair
Hardened sprung steel is used to make the blades on all MAJOR roller mowers. The heavy-duty swinging blades, coupled with the slip clutch PTO and rubber buffer protection between each of the rotor gearboxes, means that damage to crucial parts is minimised.
If one of Tony's team was operating a cylinder mower and heard that loud cling! that means a blade has hit a stone, it could mean having to grind a new sharp edge on the blade, or even having to replace a cylinder. If he's operating the MAJOR 8400GR, however, he can continue to mow; it's got swinging blade tips, so if they hit a stone they recoil, and minimal damage is caused. Thus downtime is reduced and costly repairs are avoided.
Challenge 5: Cut costs
It should be clear by now that this outstanding machine has lots of features that mean a big reduction in labour hours and costs. The initial purchase price is up to 30% lower than a cylinder mower of the same working width. The maintenance time required and replacement spare parts costs are a fraction of that of a cylinder mower.
"It is a really durable machine," says Tony, and it also has exceptional safety features. Whenever he sees it at work on the campus, whether the sun is shining or the rain is beating down, he knows that it's not only cutting the grass - it's cutting costs as well.
The new MAJOR 8400GR Roller Mower allows him and his team not only to meet the demands of their full-time cutting schedule, but also to do so without cutting back on quality. Far from it - they can look with pride around the 200 hectares and the beautifully finished pitches and grass areas.