December 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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www.spor 31 December 2017 // the entire process. At Toro, our process involves the customer early and often. Customer feedback and suggestions are the impetus for most projects. We get an idea, put something together, and immediately get it in front of customers. After we receive feedback, we go back to the drawing board to make the product better. Then it goes in front of customers again. This cycle continues throughout the development process until we meet all the customers' expectations and needs," Bergsten said. "After a product goes to market, we go back to the customer to verify their needs are being met," he said. "During this process it is quite common to uncover needs that are unrelated to a product currently being developed. For example, while working on the Outcross, several other potential new products or signifi cant improvements to other existing products were being formulated." I asked, "What is the toughest part of the development process? Or does that differ with each new product?" "Toro has a long history of turf-focused products. Product development is applying that turf product knowledge to an entirely new category of product for the industry that will help turf managers accomplish so much with one product. The customers who have supplied feedback through the development process have been key to challenging our engineers and marketing teams to think outside the box," Bergsten said. Wahl responded, "The toughest part of any project is in sweating the details, including taking the time to understand what the customer really is needing, developing a test plan to ensure the product meets those needs, creating a manufacturing process that provides the consistent product quality customers expect from Toro, and having trained support after the sale to provide many years of satisfi ed use by the customer." One piece of technology that has made product development easier is the 3D printer. "It's imperative that all parts function as designed but the look and feel of a component is also very important." Bergsten said. "We use the 3D printer to quickly test the fi t, function and feel of a part before we go into production." Test drive Wahl said the idea behind the Outcross had been fl oating around Toro for years; that is, a machine that could deliver the power of a tractor, perform multiple tasks, drive like a utility vehicle, operate simply, and do it all on fi ne turf without damaging the grass. Of course the last item might be as important as any to sports turf managers; Bergsten said this is because the machine distributes its weight evenly and features four-wheel steering (it's 4-wheel drive too). "If there are jobs around the sports fi eld that you do now with a tractor or utility vehicle, you can likely do them more effi ciently and with reduced risk of turf damage with this machine," Wahl said. Wahl and Bergsten had me aerating the grounds of Toro's headquarters in just a few minutes (I told you it was simple). Operating the machine was very similar to driving a car and the aerator was controlled with one paddle near the steering wheel. This is possible thanks to pre-set attachment parameters (set one time, by you) that take the decision making away from the operator and give it back the turf manager. Wahl said this should enable less-experienced crewmembers to safely and consistently complete tasks with which they might not have been previously trusted. Over the years I've learned that product development is a long, expensive, and painstaking process that when done correctly results in products that make your job easier. When a company like Toro asks you for feedback or for you to come visit, jump at the opportunity. Your input will likely play a part in the next product you use on your turf. /ST/ A Toro machine working in a stadium in the 1940s. Advertisement for The General, 1942.

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