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Q & A on maintenance26/03/2010
1. I understand that ‘no maintenance’ surfaces do not exist but are some simpler/cheaper to maintain than others and is this an area of development that you are looking at?
There is no such thing as a maintenance free all weather pitch. That said, with regular care and attention most modern 3G (long pile with sand and rubber infill) pitches will only require 1-3 full maintenance sessions a year (depending on usage). The key to reducing the full maintenance requirement each year is through carrying out regular in-house maintenance. This involves drag-brushing the surface on a weekly basis which will lift the fibres to encourage consistent ball roll and prevent premature and concentrated wear.
Technological advances in yarn extrusion have meant that the development of profiled yarns has been vast over recent years and this has many advantages, including potentially reducing the requirement for maintenance. A profiled yarn is effectively a yarn that has a shape or spine running through it, which not only means the finished grass looks more realistic but it also encourages blade recovery when the product is in use. Rather than a flat or straight yarn, a profiled yarn has built in vertical memory, so once it has been played or trodden on it will spring back upright and return to its original form.
2. Whats the impact of correct maintenance on the performance and lifespan of the various surfaces?
Like anything, correct maintenance will improve performance and possibly increase the lifespan of a product. You wouldn’t buy a car and expect it to sustain optimum performance without ever putting it in for a service or MOT. In order to regulate synthetic turf performance, there are a number of industry and sport governing bodies that have set testing standards and issue certification to ensure health and safety and quality measures are met. Regular and correct maintenance should ensure these standards are continually met and will also help to reduce the risk of compaction and contamination within the pitch which could eventually decrease its life expectancy.
3. What does your customers’ perceptions and approaches to maintenance tend to be
Although we suggest to our customers that a maintenance programme of little and often is key, there is a varied response to this. Most groundskeepers and caretakers that we have worked with take great pride in looking after their surfaces and implement a weekly regime of litter picking and gentle brushing to keep the turf clean and well manicured. On the odd occasion, we are called out to assess synthetic turf pitches that are underperforming or looking tired and tatty. In most circumstances this is due to a lack of care and little or no maintenance. Budget invariably is used an excuse as to why a pitch has not been looked after but by comparison to the total cost of a pitch installation, maintenance equipment would equate to a tiny percentage and is something that should be considered and built into the budget from the offset. Through a lack of regular maintenance from day1, problems develop in systems, often leading to considerable costs. Usually these costs will largely overshadow that of an initial investment and routine. Regular maintenance is simple and should take very little time if practiced on a weekly basis, fortunately the vast majority of our customers embrace this concept and long-term will reap its rewards.
4. Any tips and advice for facilities that are considering installing synthetic surfaces to get the best out of them.
Top tips from TigerTurf
Always use experienced installation teams, if the installation is poor you will have problems from the start
Ensure maintenance equipment is built into the budget from the offset
Seek advice on a maintenance regime – your predicted usage should determine this
Keep the surface free of litter and natural debris as much as possible
Instil a maintenance programme from day 1 – once a problem occurs it becomes very difficult and costly to rectify
Only allow players to use correct footwear
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