0 Spotlight on: the future of artificial turf maintenance

OTIS Web Pge ExmpleArtificial turf maintenance is becoming increasingly important in 21st century sport. From leisure centres and schools to top-level pitches, the benefits of synthetic sports surfaces are recognised throughout the sports industry, and it is vital that these facilities are maintained to the correct standard to ensure that their full potential is realised. A programme of routine and specialist maintenance throughout the life of a synthetic pitch can help to ensure its longevity and safety, as well as preserving its aesthetics and performance levels.

By way of illustration, the Rugby Football Union, Football Association and Football Foundation have identified in their Framework Agreement for the Provision of Artificial Grass Pitches that an improvement in the overall quality of synthetic surfaces at the community club level is integral to their future collective use of 3rd Generation artificial turf pitches.

This Framework Agreement outlines the responsibility of artificial turf manufacturers to project manage the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of the new facilities. Within this, particular focus is given to the need for the pitches to satisfy certain performance criteria, to ensure a high standard of playing surface is provided to end users. From a maintenance perspective, manufacturers are required to identify the individual maintenance needs of each surface, based on determining factors including pitch size and projected usage levels.

But the responsibilities to maintenance do not end there; the Framework Agreement further stipulates that the programme of works must be reviewed regularly, and should be revised to reflect any changes in usage levels or pitch performance. In line with the overall emphasis on quality control, a suitable maintenance programme is deemed a pre-requisite to ensuring a pitch's compliance with the Manufacturer's Warranty.

For specialist contractors such as Technical Surfaces, the UK's leading artificial pitch maintenance provider, the contents of the Framework Agreement represents real progress towards a greater understanding of the importance of regular and specialist maintenance to the longevity of a synthetic sports surface. Indeed, it is symptomatic of an industry-wide trend towards a re-evaluation of existing standards and conventions.

As the synthetic sports surface industry continues along the path towards greater regulation and standardisation, interested parties - including SAPCA and SAPCA members, manufacturers, contractors and maintenance providers - are working together to deliver a clear, concise and, above all, consistent message when it comes to the specific maintenance requirements and aftercare programme a particular surface might require.

This shift in thinking from top-level sporting bodies and key industry figures such as SAPCA is welcomed by Technical Surfaces, whose own maintenance services are structured to reflect the key requirements of each unique sports surface. With more than 500 maintenance contracts across the UK, Technical Surfaces prides itself on offering a flexible service to its customers, tailoring bespoke packages that take into account such factors as available budgets, pitch usage and the level of in-house maintenance being carried out by any on-site grounds teams.

Beyond this, Technical Surfaces also conducts annual surface inspections - detailed evaluations of the factors affecting player performance and pitch endurance, such as carpet pile wear, infill distribution and drainage capabilities. Inspections also allow for the life expectancy of a synthetic surface to be monitored at regular intervals. In keeping with the requirements of the Framework Agreement, such inspections give Technical Surfaces the opportunity to assess the maintenance programme currently in place, making amendments to the frequencies and / or specialist processes involved as necessary.

Technical Surfaces, whose motto is Maintaining Standards, is well renowned for its position at the forefront of innovation and advancement within the artificial turf maintenance industry. The growing need for synthetic sports pitch owners and operators to record total weekly and monthly hours of usage, as well as logging all maintenance activities to ensure warranty compliance, perfectly complements the development of O.T.I.S - Technical Surfaces' revolutionary Online Technical Information System.

O.T.I.S has been designed as an interactive tool between Technical Surfaces, its customers and their original surface provider. Customers are encouraged to utilise the web-based system to record weekly usage levels, and should they wish, they can also input data on any revenue generated from pitch bookings. Should pitch usage levels change over time, O.T.I.S will automatically send alerts to both the customer and Technical Surfaces for a review of the maintenance programme currently in place. For pitch contractors and artificial turf manufacturers, O.T.I.S provides maintenance updates throughout the life of their installations, encouraging a continuity of dialogue between the client, surface provider and maintenance specialist.

By registering for O.T.I.S via the Technical Surfaces website, customers will also be able to access and retrieve all reports produced by Technical Surfaces on the condition of their synthetic surface, with corresponding maintenance recommendations, supporting literature and health & safety documentation as required. Customers can place orders for any of the works recommended by Technical Surfaces, and any remedial problems requiring repair or attention can be reported directly by the customer via O.T.I.S.

A full service history will be available to customers to view and update, detailing a chronological list of routine and specialist maintenance carried out both in-house and by Technical Surfaces, with supporting documentation where applicable. Finally, the Service Planner function provides an at-a-glance calendar, displaying any maintenance works completed, scheduled or due for scheduling. This allows for a quick and efficient scheduling system to operate between Technical Surfaces and its customers.

In the synthetic sports surface industry, both in the UK and across Europe, the focus is shifting ever more towards improving performance standards for the end user. Within this, the warranty implications of carrying out incorrect or no maintenance are serving to promote a greater understanding amongst pitch owners and operators of the importance of a dedicated maintenance programme to the longevity of their synthetic surface. The endorsement of maintenance by SAPCA and its members, as well as by sport's top governing bodies such as the RFU, FA and Football Foundation, gives even greater authority to the message that has been espoused by Technical Surfaces for many years. On the continent, the European Synthetic Turf Organisation (ESTO) has also announced its intentions to raise the standards and enhance the quality of service for synthetic pitch aftercare. Now, with the introduction of O.T.I.S, Technical Surfaces will continue to set the standard within the industry for a premier maintenance service that helps to maintain the durability and high performance levels of the UK's synthetic sports surfaces.

To find out more about the full range of maintenance equipment and services required to keep a synthetic playing surface in peak condition, call Technical Surfaces now on 08702 400 700 and ask to speak to a Technical Manager.

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With the introduction of O.T.I.S, Technical Surfaces will continue to set the standard within the industry for a premier artificial surface maintenance service.

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