Kingstown Works Limited (KWL) based in Kingston upon Hull, this year's City of Culture, has recently invested in seven Toro Groundsmaster 3400 out-front rotary mowers to be operated by its largest client Hull City Council. The seven machines will play a key role in keeping the green spaces of the city in the best possible condition during this all-important year.
In a tender process, completed by Russell Groundcare, via the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, Toro achieved the best results for price, capability and delivery, and it isn't for the first time. KWL is an existing Toro customer and the acquisition is part of a replacement programme for older Toro triple mowers coming out of service.
The decision for KWL to purchase rotary mowers is a move away from traditionally opting for cylinder mowers to maintain the city's parks, sports fields, horticultural areas and municipalities. And the reason for this says Garry Middleton, business unit leader at KWL Fleet, is down to a rotary mower's ability to work on longer grass at a higher output rate with ease.
He says: "Our client needed to marginally extend periods between cutting and, based on this, required a machine that could cope with cutting longer grass while still providing a good finish, which the Groundsmaster is more than capable of. Russell Groundcare and Toro performed well in the tender process as our experience of working with both has always been a good one: the service from Russell and indeed Reesink Turfcare [UK distributor of Toro] is excellent and the rate of cut and quality from Toro prove outstanding."
In terms of the machines' capabilities, such an important consideration in the tender process, it's easy to see why the GM3400 scored so highly. Constructed from high-strength seven gauge welded steel, 33 per-cent thicker and 75 percent stronger than ordinary ten gauge commercial steel, the GM3400 is robust and tough. A Kubota four-cylinder diesel engine, delivering 26.5 kW (35.5hp), means it's powerful with a high performance rate, too.
With a tilting operator platform, large opening engine cover and easy-to-remove access panels, maintenance is unrestricted. Within minutes, an operator or service technician can achieve direct access, reducing daily check and cleaning times as well as service maintenance downtime. The GM3400 also benefits from low maintenance costs and a high 15.5mph transport mode to ensure fast logistics between sites, all of which increases uptime, minimises costs and improves productivity.
And when it comes to the final result you have, says Garry, a "decent trim, clean finish and a good turn rate around trees and other obstacles. While purchase price is of course a major factor, we always consider the anticipated operational and maintenance costs and, given that the Toro retains a good residual value, this also forms an important consideration as part of our overall costing."
So, what impact does Hull being the UK's City of Culture have on Garry and the team's work? Garry says: "Expectations haven't changed in terms of the results our client quite rightly wants for the public and open spaces of Hull, which require a quality finish, but with all eyes on the City this year that does add a bit of extra pressure! Having a brand new Toro fleet means we can rest assured that the quality and consistency of cut will be delivered."