Denmark-based Intelligent Marking Ltd invented and manufactures a field-marking robot that is being distributed in the US by Turf Tank, Acworth, GA, www.turftank.com. Jason T. Aldridge, president of Turf Tank, says his company has been very involved in helping Intelligent Marking design the American football programming for the robot and develop an overall sales strategy for the US market. Aldridge answered some questions from SportsTurf ahead of the product’s debut at January’s STMA Conference:
Can the robot be pre-programmed to paint a soccer pitch or football hash marks or must it always be run by an on-site operator?
Aldridge: The Intelligent One Robot has pre-designed templates for athletic fields and can be pre-programmed to paint any size soccer pitch or football field (outline, yard lines and/or hashes). The robot is controlled from an app on an Android Tablet, which comes with the robot. After each practice and/or game fields are loaded into the application, the robot will always know the precise location and measurements down to 1 cm accuracy to paint effectively. The operator can simply click a button on the app and launch a route plan. The robot will drive directly to the starting point and begin painting. For soccer complexes with multiple soccer pitches, the robot can be instructed to paint up to four, full size 11 v 11 soccer fields with one touch of a button. When running an American football route plan, the operator has the option to do either a full field or separate components of the outline, yard lines or hash marks.
What’s the learning curve for operators, in both running the robot as well as programming it for certain tasks?
Aldridge: The Intelligent One App is very easy to navigate and understand. Our Turf Tank staff will properly train every customer and provide support through phone, email, online forums and onsite visits if necessary.
Does it require any kind of special paint or can operators use same paints they have been using?
Aldridge: The Intelligent One robot is a highly advanced computer with algorithms and timing mechanisms that correlates with the pump pressure and nozzle output. Intelligent Marking is offering a branded paint solution manufactured in the US. Customers will ultimately have to make their own choice of paint preference, and we will help them understand our paint products and navigate through any questions or options they want to explore.
What is the initial cost of the robot, and what are costs in maintaining the robot?
Aldridge: Turf Tank has a creative business model for selling and supporting the Intelligent One Robot. Our goal is to provide an innovative product with our support at an affordable price to any customer. Turf Tank will sell the robot through a municipal lease with annual appropriations clause that is common for local or state governments. For non-government organizations, Turf Tank has similar commercial leasing options available that are affordable. This means any customer can gain title to the robot during the term of lease and gains free and clear ownership of robot at the end of term. Additionally, if the customer does not receive funding for that budget item for the next year, they can cancel the lease with no further obligation.
Turf Tank has different tiers of pricing based on number of physical site locations and number of fields. Our customer profile can be as small as a youth soccer club and private high school up to a large school district, college campus with athletic and student recreation fields, and large municipal parks and recreation departments with multiple campuses and field locations.
Turf Tank has approved municipal/commercial leasing terms from 36 to 72 months with customized payment options to best fit each customer. Our pricing tiers range from as low as $399 per month to $749 per month based on the customer’s configuration and service level agreement. Additionally, Turf Tank offers discounts on multiple robot purchases and also provides creative consulting services to help raise sponsorship dollars for the robot. There is a required $960 annual GPS Satellite data plan for each robot that is billed separately each January by Intelligent Marking Ltd. in Denmark.