An expert opinion on landscaping equipment and employee wellbeing
The prevention of work-related risks is an important issue for landscaping companies, and a market opportunity for innovations in this sector. Problems on which Pellenc, a manufacturer of landscaping equipment for green space maintenance, has focused and for which it won a Paysalia Innovations Trophy in 2017. For more on the link between landscaping equipment and employee wellbeing, we interviewed Pellenc’s Green & City Technology Marketing Manager Claire Lacroix.
Paysalia: What encouraged you to develop a range of landscaping equipment for green space maintenance?
Claire Lacroix: To improve workplace comfort for grape pickers, our founder Roger Pellenc, who already manufactured grape harvesters, developed electric pruning shears. Traditionally standard shears are manual or pneumatic, tough to operate and finger-threatening. This invention led to a whole range of electric tools for green space maintenance!
You market in several countries. Are there differences in the ways they maintain their green spaces?
In Europe, methods are basically standardized but vary as different factors come into play!
One of these is the high proportion of women in landscaping trades in the Scandinavian countries like Sweden and in Canada which means tools have to be ergonomic and as light as possible. A tool carrying harness resting on the hips like a backpack is an essential selling point.
There are also different cultural practices, such as in Italy. There they prefer small, round handles on whipper-snippers to facilitate access whereas France prefers wide, strong, handlebars.
The end result can influence the choice of landscaping equipment too. England prefers very close-cropped grass – 25 mm. Other countries prefer differentiated management and believe that cutting grass too short harms it and prevents biodiversity from developing. Our mowers must adapt to these differences.
As Pellenc is above all an engineering company, our job is to mirror each country’s culture and develop product options to facilitate adequacy.
What landscaping equipment problems are you addressing currently?
The highest risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are mainly related to repetition: using a leaf blower for several hours exerts severe pressure in the carpal tunnel and can end up by afflicting lasting damage. This is why research in general focuses on solutions that are increasingly ergonomic and light and Pellenc has registered many patents in this field in particular for angled suction.
We are also working on noise which annoys residents and landscapers. Electric landscaping equipment does away with ear defenders – and exhaust gas odors – and enables normal conversation with colleagues.
Your innovation has resulted in several patents. What do they concern?
We devoted a lot of time to developing our latest generation of batteries to obtain one of the best autonomies on the market and one of the best power/weight ratios. With our IP54 battery you can work in the rain. Our patent for natural component ventilation extends service life and prevents heating users’ backs. We also registered a patent developed with engineers specialized in the outdoor equipment for overall harness design to ensure carrying comfort and a clip system to facilitate battery removal and insertion.
Discover Claire Lacroix's interview during Paysalia 2017!
You won a Paysalia Innovations Trophy at Paysalia 2017. Did that have a positive impact on your business?
Many people stopped at the innovations exhibited at the entrance to the Show and then came to our stand. The Trophy really interested and intrigued visitors. It also validated our approach and rewarded the work of our engineers who had devoted several years to developing our new generations of battery – the 1200 and 1500 – and on comfort harnesses!
At the show we received visits from landscaping companies and public authorities wanting to renew their batteries to facilitate the maintenance of green spaces for which they are responsible. They know that employee wellbeing is a major challenge which implies adapted landscaping equipment.
Our thanks to Claire Lacroix from Pellenc for her contribution.
© Photo credit: Tomasz Zajda / stock.adobe.com