Attendees at GIE+Expo saw new equipment with features like automation and greater load capacity, but another major theme ran through many of the equipment updates: ease-of-use. Manufacturers are improving the ergonomics of landscaping equipment both for operator comfort and efficiency.
As a labor shortage continues to be an issue for landscape professionals, advancements in ease-of-use make it easier to get jobs done more quickly without a heavy strain on operators.
Attendees could demo the new Pro Z 972 SDL by Cub Cadet, Cleveland, on a platform that tilted back and forth to show off its new self-leveling air-ride seat. The seat can automatically level 15 degrees either direction, keeping the operator in a more comfortable position while mowing slopes up to 25 degrees. Beyond changes to the seat, the model includes a fully integrated lighting system for low-light operation and use by government department teams. It is planned to be available for purchase by February 2020.
Many companies made updates to controls and interfaces to be more user friendly alongside changes in engines and other features, including manufacturers such as Toro, Husqvarna, John Deere and New Holland. Some additions included a phone holder or port for a charger, as cell phones become a more useful tool on managing jobs.
Improved visibility of the workspace, such as with the new SK3000 stand-on skid steer by Ditch Witch, Perry, Oklahoma, makes the work site more efficient and increases safety. It has a lift capacity of 3,100 pounds, provides up to 51 horsepower to attachments and weighs in at 7,600 pounds. It has an optional dual self-leveling kit and its 332-sq. in. operator platform allows 360-degree visibility.
Contractors also look for more maneuverability to get the right equipment to the job site without causing damage to customers’ spaces, such as the new CTX160 mini skid steer by Vermeer, Pella, Iowa. The machine, equipped with a stand-on operator platform, has a lifting capacity of 1,600 pounds with a width of 42 inches, which allows it to pass through a standard gate.