John Deere has set out its vision for a more connected, guided and electrified future for greenkeepers as the company prepares to make more ground-breaking technology available to golf courses.
Utilising proven JDLink™ technology from John Deere’s agriculture division in tandem with the integration of cloud-based management software and electrified machines, course owners and managers will have the power to create a more efficient and sustainable future.
At the international turf management exhibition, BTME, in Harrogate this week, John Deere outlined how recent product development and acquisitions had provided the foundations for three new principles for golf course care; Connect, Guide, Manage.
Key to this vision is John Deere’s acquisition of cloud-based golf course management software, OnLink, in 2019 which has been developed and will soon be launched across Europe, starting in the UK.
It allows users to automatically synchronise selected machines working anywhere on the course, managing activity remotely.
The technology delivers integrated labour and fleet management tools. OnEquip provides information on fleet activity such as engine hour tracking and servicing intervals, while OnLabor provides labour tools such as electronic job boards to improve overall management and to track assignments.
OnLink connects to machines using John Deere’s long-established JDLink and the John Deere Operations Center which have been used on the company’s farm machinery for more than 15 years. For greenkeepers, this means connected machines will also provide their real-time location on the course through the OnLink mapping feature.
Data gathered can be used to plan and improve operation efficiency, as each machine’s working hours can be balanced across its life cycle to reduce the cost of ownership. Mowing patterns, reducing the time required to complete work, can also be managed.
The technology provides owners settings for geofences and curfews to send alerts if the machine is working outside of set locations or hours, increasing its security profile.
OnLink offers customers the ability to plan for weather conditions, track the speed of greens, and monitor soil moisture while also creating accurate budget forecasts and use the workboard updates to plan tasks.
OnLink will be available on any internet connected device; desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
The company recently announced the launch of the world’s first fully autonomous tractor in the USA – a statement of innovation which will feed across to the golf business over time, allowing more guided and semi-autonomous operations on the course.
John Deere’s Sales Manager for Turf and Golf, Chris Meacock, said: “At John Deere, we believe the future of golf course maintenance is about connectivity, sustainability, autonomy and intelligence, while embracing electric.
“Our exciting plans for the next few years involve applying our proven technology innovations to all our golf equipment, so that greenkeepers can better plan for weather conditions, forecast accurate budgets and meticulously manage equipment and labour costs.
“The John Deere OnLink golf course management solution will be key for allowing greenkeepers to save valuable time, increase operational efficiency by identifying the problem areas causing delays in task completion, reduce cost of ownership, and provide increased security and peace of mind. I also envisage greenkeeping teams harnessing its data for future decision making and increasing effective communication.”
John Deere is also committing to electrify its golf portfolio.
In February the company presented its 185 / 225 E-Cut™ Electric Walk Greens Mowers in the USA for the first time. Powered by 48V Lithium-Ion Battery, the electric mowers produce zero emissions and low sound levels.
John Deere’s journey to electrification, as well as developing battery drive equipment, will emphasise the addition of smart features to make operation easier and more comfortable, putting the decision making into the hand of head greenkeepers so the performance in the field is the same on every area, at every time, independent from the operator.
Article by Martin Ward