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Background Flymo are always looking for ways to add exciting added-value features to their range of mowers. They sometimes need to explore concepts without diverting in-house resources from existing, committed programs. SA has helped out on a number of these exercises.

These are treated as speculative projects. They allow the freedom to push the boundaries, without the innovation-stifling restrictions that are inevitable in a formally committed new product development programme.

Challenge Explore various ways to improve the grass collection performance of wheeled rotary mowers.

Solution An existing hover mower was adapted to run as a wheeled mower. The power of the hover fan, now no-longer needed to support the mower, was adapted to suck grass off the lawn and into a top-mounted grass box. An innovative secondary cutting unit was developed and fitted in the duct between the lawn and the grass box. This re-cut the grass as it flowed through the duct.

It was found to be extremely difficult to cut grass that is not anchored to the ground i.e. pieces that are free flowing in the air. This was successfully achieved only after a lot of brainstorming, bench tests, calculations and small-scale trials had shown the way to do it.

It was developed by engineers on-the-fly in the model-shop, therefore bypassing lengthy engineering drawing time. The end result was achieved using a relatively simple mechanism.

Deliverables Inventive problem solving was the key. A high performance, robust demonstrator unit was produced in realistic production materials. We were able to deliver clear and concise presentations to the Flymo management.

Results The project was a success. The end result saw greatly improved pick-up performance, especially on rough grass and coarse weeds. Finely chopped grass mulch flowed into the grass box faster, with less clogging and tighter packing. And tighter packing gave significantly more mowing time between emptyings.

Success was rubber-stamped by an end-user focus group, which expressed considerable enthusiasm for what was quite a noticeable improvement in performance.