I am really looking forward to this year’s BTME show in Harrogate which kicks off next Tuesday. Always a busy three days for me, I very much enjoy meeting up with many industry colleagues and associates.
It is important we support these shows and take the time and effort to catch up with the latest developments, machinery and services on offer. There is always plenty to see and learn from attending BTME.
Organisers say next week’s event will feature more than 150 exhibiting companies spread across four zones at the Harrogate Convention Centre. Last year's exhibition saw nearly 9,000 BIGGA members, turf managers, golf club owners, managers and industry decision makers make the trip to Harrogate.
Similar numbers attended the IOG Saltex show at the NEC last November. I personally would like to see more people attend both of these shows, as they are a key showcase for our industry and offer a plethora of opportunities for everybody.
Both are well run shows but still only seem to attract around 9000 attendees! Why, I do not know? Surely there are more than 9,000 people earning a living from working in this diverse industry? So why have the numbers remained static for so many years?
Maybe we need to think about how we can attract more people to these shows?
Having, written recently about the plight of our industry in regards to attracting the next generation here and here I feel we should be doing more to attract more people to come and work in our industry. I firmly believe both of these industry shows have a great opportunity to do this. Yes we have a number of colleges exhibiting, but I hardly ever see a great numbers of students attending our shows.
We really need to find a new way of attracting pupils and students form schools and colleges to come and attend and then they can see for themselves the vast diversity of our industry and the career opportunities on offer.
We need a national campaign to attract the next generation - perhaps something both the IOG and BTME could deliver together?
Anyway, moving away from shows and recruitment, I would like to turn my attentions to other preoccupations of this time of year, winter works and projects.
It is during the months of January, February and March that many golf courses and sports clubs are able to complete some refurbishment works and winter projects, generally centred around jobs like drainage work, tee and green constructions, bunker work, path, pond and ditch refurbishment and woodland works.
There is nothing more satisfying than having the opportunity to undertake the work yourself, gaining new skills and knowledge. However, some larger projects may require the need to bring in specialist contractors to help you achieve your objectives in the time scale available.
I always enjoyed working on these types of projects. It gives one a sense of achievement and pride in what you are doing. And most tasks are made a lot easier today, with the larger choice of machinery we now have at our disposal.
Drainage work has been made simpler with the development of GPS technology and much improved trenching machinery. The installation of piped drainage runs and sand banding, has become so much more efficient and quicker.
We also have a greater range of renovation equipment at our disposal. This includes fraise mowers, top dressers, scarifiers and aeration equipment to help improve the playing surfaces.
I always also enjoyed designing and planting new landscaping schemes. It is most satisfying seeing the fruits of your labour grow and mature, enhancing the topography of the site.
It is important to maintain and continue to enhance the landscape quality of the site. Planting new and maintaining existing features is essential for the future of the site both in terms of aesthetic and biodiversity values.
Finally, I should like to mention the value of keeping your machinery in good working order and investing in regular servicing. Yes, there will always be a cost for this service but it is well worth the investment over time.
Most high-end sports turf machinery is often bought via established machinery dealers. These guys always offer great after sales and customer services to safeguard the warranties and longevity of this expensive equipment.
Most of us rely heavily on the use of machinery now and we should learn the best ways to look after it. Washing down and keeping it clean and keeping records of its use is important.
Your fleet of machinery is the lifeblood of your club. Keeping equipment at optimum working condition minimises the risk of having unscheduled downtime. If maintenance is needed, it's important to keep a comprehensive record - whether scheduled or unscheduled.
With constant use, your equipment is prone to wear and tear. Performing routine inspections allows you to see and repair small damages before they become a big problem. Documenting these inspections and small repairs help you keep track of all the maintenance work that your equipment has undertaken.
Documenting every repair or maintenance work carried out on your equipment will help you process warranty claims much easier. Keep a record of the type of maintenance work done, as well as the exact time and date of repairs, as this information will help determine your rights for the warranty claims.
If a piece of plant or equipment is well maintained, the risk of accidents occurring due to malfunctioning machinery is reduced. When incidents involving faulty machinery occur, there’s a big chance that the operator is the first one to be affected.
Performing a routine inspection and documenting the findings after every project will help you track down who is accountable for any damage inflicted on your machinery. Keeping these types of records will also encourage operators to take better care of the equipment.
Keeping a detailed record of all the maintenance and repairs that a piece of equipment went through will help increase its resale value.
As the old saying goes, look after your equipment and it will look after you!