Sunderland, which achieved city status in 1992, keeps its green spaces to the highest standards of quality and a substantial fleet of Dennis mowers is playing a key role.
The City Council has no fewer than 16 Dennis FT510 pedestrian mowers and four G680 models that are in constant use on Sunderland's parks and amenity areas.
"The Dennis machines are magnificent because of their precision and their incredible versatility," says Len Harfield, who has achieved an impressive 43 years' service with the Council, the last 16 years as Transport Manager. "Our entire workforce love using them."
The Council took delivery of their first FT510 six years ago. Dennis loaned it to them on a trial basis and the Sunderland staff gave a unanimous thumbs up for adding more machines to the fleet.
The FT510 does not only give a quality finish to grass surfaces, but its cylinder mower can also be replaced by quick-attach cassettes for other essential turf care tasks. "It's amazing that one machine can do the job of so many others," says Len. "Cassettes are easy to change without using spanners, because hand wheels are used. This versatility also saves the Council money, without having to buy additional equipment."
Dennis offer many attachments for the 510mm (20in) wide FT510, which is from a range with working widths from 430-610mm (17-24in). These include five and nine blade cylinders, scarifiers, brushes, verti-cutters, a roller, a sorrel roller and a slitter. Honda engines give easy starting and reliability, and the FTs are belt driven for smoother, quieter operation compared with chain driven machines.
The G680 is a rugged, dedicated mower for the most demanding users. The 680mm (27in) wide unit has a large diameter cutting reel for maximum performance in wet grass, and a three-sectional differential roller enables easy turning. Height of cut is variable between 6-55mm.
Sunderland City Council is impressed by the low vibration of the Dennis machines. As Len Harfield says, "Health & Safety issues like this are very important in the public sector." Recent legislation requires employers to assess and control workers' exposure to hand-arm vibration (HAV) and reduce it as far as possible.
Vibration can damage blood vessels and nerves in the fingers, leading to the industrial disease 'vibration white finger'. In extreme cases, workers find it painful to hold equipment and employers may face compensation claims.
Dennis technicians have researched into engineering and manufacturing methods to minimise machine vibration, such as handlebar design, and more and more local authorities are appreciating the benefits.
With Sunderland's Dennis mowers giving quality results, maximum versatility and enhanced Health & Safety standards, it is not surprising that Len Harfield plans to place a further order in the near future.