Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council will save time, resources and money thanks to an investment in Rigby Taylor’s robotic TinyLineMarker (TLM).
Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council’s Street Scene team expect to achieve a return on investment measured in months, but the new-found efficiencies will also enable the operation to offer ultra-competitive line marking to sports facilities currently outside of the council’s remit.
With the maintenance of 92 pitches under their care, the Street Scene team – led by Operations Manager Darren Bisby – was formerly taking four man-hours (two men) to initial line mark each pitch (predominantly football) each week with the conventional 3/4/5 triangle method and string, using a total of eight men in four vehicles.
Now, with TLM, one man is able to deliver the borough-wide service for line marking, taking just 20 minutes to mark a pitch – and Darren even suggests that a standard pitch can now be mowed and marked in less than an hour.
So, with 2,392 scheduled overmarkings across the pitches, 797 man-hours will effectively be put back into the Street Scene operation. With teammates released to perform other income-generating duties, the TLM operator can also now get on with other tasks during his visit – such as litter picking, goalpost strimming and divotting – while the robot is in action.
In addition, one vehicle has been removed from the fleet – saving several thousands of pounds on lease costs and around £900 on annual fuel plus any maintenance and repair costs.
Lightweight and easy to transport, TLM utilises the latest GPS technology with RTK receiver and antenna that connects with global satellites and mobile network connections. It takes the input of pitch line dimensions and multiple pitches via an App and re-positions them to best fit the site using Google Maps. Once stored, the lines are never lost, even if they disappear if a pitch is not used for any length of time.
Initial marking of a standard size football pitch ( by the Street Scene operator) takes less than 20 minutes, including all perimeter lines, penalty boxes, the ‘D’, centre circle, corner angles and penalty spot all with just one touch on the tablet control. Even pitches with fixed post sockets can be marked.
TLM is able to mark football pitches (any length/width), and rugby union and league pitches as well as multi-lane athletic tracks, tennis, lacrosse and American football pitches.
Today, each Street Scene pitch is marked every fortnight, with the paint being applied to grass rather than a burned–in line. “Because with TLM the lines will never be lost, a pitch can be rested or a line can be ‘mowed out’ without the need to re-string and measure and mark from scratch,” says Darren.
“To be confident of achieving the quality of line to fit our business model, we are now using a different paint dispensing nozzle (orange) to deliver 2.37 litres of paint per standard pitch based on 12 minutes spray time. This is more paint [approximately 25%] than before (using a red nozzle) which, depending on operator speed, used around 1.5 litres of paint.
“However, the red nozzle was applied when weekly marking burned–in lines – so, it is much more cost–effective to apply the paint at a higher rate to achieve a fortnightly schedule.
“We are continuing our use of Rigby Taylor’s ready-to-use Impact paint, which has proved that it produces bright white lines that last longer than other paints.”
After a three-year apprenticeship in groundsmanship, Darren joined the Council in 1985, continually progressing up the career ladder until his appointment last year as Operations Manager with a wide remit that includes street cleaning, playground repairs and graffiti removal as well as groundscare.
His investigations into the feasibility of using TLM mirrored the work he did when the council invested in iGO walk-behind line markers some years ago. This delivered tangible savings compared with conventional wheel transfer machines. This latest move, he adds, is a great example of how Street Scene and its operators have the willingness and flexibility to change – for the better.
“The move to TLM not only means huge efficiency and financial savings but it also generates more job satisfaction for the team; no longer are people required to monotonously line-mark every week.
“Another benefit of TLM is that we tick an environmental box by not having to burn-in lines (which do effectively create a ‘dent’ in the playing surface) and with one less van in the fleet have reduced our carbon footprint, too. Also, the robot does exactly what you ask it to do, without tea and lunch breaks!
“In the future,” Darren concludes, “TLM will likely also be applied to running tracks and for marking out our summer sports events (for example, javelin areas) and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be offering line marking to other sites on a commercial basis.”