Briggs & Stratton Launches InfoHub For Commercial Cutters

17 October 2017

Briggs & Stratton has unveiled a new fleet and machine management technology designed to improve profitability and productivity for commercial turf equipment operators. InfoHub for Commercial Cutters combines a mower-mounted gateway device with flexible software programmed to provide fleet operators with real-time information on a range of parameters, including machine location, usage and status.

Engineered for the widest range of applications, the system can be used on any type of commercial mower with any brand of carbureted or electronic fuel injection engines, the company said. InfoHub for Commercial Cutters debuted the day before the opening day of the GIE-Expo Show in Louisville, Ky.

“Our vernacular is really critical and we’re talking about this as a business solution,” said Carissa Gingras, director of marketing, Global Support, at Briggs & Stratton. “We could talk about it as something that can monitor it engine data or equipment. But this is not about monitoring equipment. Monitoring equipment is part of the process that gives us the results to make it a business solution for commercial cutters.”

According to industry sources cited by the company, landscaping services is $71 billion business, with lawn cutting services accounting for approximately $47 billion of that total. Further, Briggs & Stratton noted that the number of U.S. homeowners paying for lawn care services is roughly 21% of all households, with that number rising approximately 6% annually.

“But that industry is really fragmented,” Gingras said. “It’s estimated to be about 280,000 cutters, with a low barrier to entry — it can be one guy with a ZTR or a ride-on that goes through a neighborhood mowing lawns.

“Depending upon which source you look at anywhere from 78 to 97% of commercial cutters are making less than $1 million. A fragmented business, low barrier to entry, not making a ton of money — all that suggests that for them to be as efficient as possible and grow their business, they need the right tools to drive better business solutions. That’s kind of where we came in and said we think there’s an opportunity here improving the everyday lives of commercial cutters.”

An initial version of InfoHub was launched several years ago as a mobile monitoring system for the company’s home standby generator sets. In developing it for commercial cutters, Briggs & Stratton has worked with selected commercial mowing customers for the last two years, with 25 customers operating 300 InfoHub-equipped machines in three states.

InfoHub for Commercial Cutters will initially be available on an aftermarket basis for the 2018 cutting season through Briggs & Stratton dealers, with a charge for the gateway device as well as a monthly subscription charge. Installation of the gateway device can be accomplished in as little as 15 to 30 minutes — either by the dealer or by the cutter’s own maintenance personnel — with recommended installation locations for each type of machine, Briggs & Stratton said.

“Going in, we understood enough about commercial cutters that they do have multi-brands in their fleets, so the idea of being brand agnostic was absolutely critical,” said Gingras. “Were talking about any engine — spark plug, battery, you’re good to go. You can put it on your ZTRs, your stand-ons, your rides, your walk-behinds, whatever is in the fleet.”

The software allows access to a broad range of customer-selected information, available in real time, that can include location of the machines, movement of the machines (whether cutting or being transported on a trailer) and service and maintenance alerts. The gateway device uploads information to the program every 15 seconds when operating and the information is available through a mobile-optimized portal that is accessible from a smartphone, tablet or PC.

The greatest benefit, Briggs & Stratton said, is the ability to more precisely estimate and accurately bid cutting jobs.

“This isn’t for the sake of Big Brother, of an owner just wanting to know exactly where his crew is,” Gingras said. “It’s all about the productivity of the equipment.

“What the cutter really wants to know is, did I bid that job right? How long does really it take to cut that property? How can I bid the next property that looks like it? Am I making money on it? Can I bring my guys back two hours early, get one more job on that day and grow my business?

“There are fleet management systems out in the marketplace, things that people can put on a trailer to track it. But that doesn’t tell them when the trailer goes into a subdivision if your crews doing all the jobs they need to be doing in that subdivision.

“There isn’t anything like this in the marketplace and as a marketing person, I like to use the word ‘groundbreaking,’ but I think this really is groundbreaking.”

More information on InfoHub will be available in an upcoming issue of Diesel Progress North American.

Watch the interview here.

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