To start off the new year, the entire Focal Pointe Construction Department visited the iLandscape Illinois and Wisconsin Landscape Show in Schaumberg, IL. The goal of this trip was to talk to vendors and see what new equipment was available or on the horizon and to make some new contacts. The trip was successful in a few ways. The team participated in in-depth demonstrations of new equipment that Focal Pointe is planning to purchase and gathered information from several new nurseries to expand our plant selection.
Two of the iLandscape conference attendees are members of Focal Pointe’s Innovation Committee. They were tasked with investigating autonomous mowers to learn how they work and how Focal Pointe might implement them. Talking with one of the leading manufacturers of autonomous mowers, the team learned about the mowers’ safety, ease of use, ease of repair, and how to use them on the job site. The iLandscape conference left everyone in attendance with a lot of new contacts and food for thought.
Following the success of the iLandscape conference, the Innovation Committee sent two members to the 1st Annual Lawn & Landscape Technology Conference in Orlando, FL a few weeks later. The goal of this trip, however, was not just to explore autonomous mowers. This conference featured industry leaders giving presentations about ways companies can increase their use of current and developing technology to stay ahead of the competition. Additionally, the exhibit hall had companies representing many different technologies from online payment portals, to fleet tracking, to AI property measurements. The goal of this conference was to gather as information as possible to take back to the rest of the innovation team. After discussing the various products and techniques, the committee will follow up to schedule demonstrations and begin using some of these new technology tools.
While the guest speakers at the Lawn & Landscape Technology Conference were interesting and had some important takeaways, the real benefit came from talking to the exhibitors. Almost every company had a cool piece of equipment or software designed to make our work more efficient. Returning to chilly St. Louis from sunny Orlando was challenging, but the team was excited to report back on everything they learned. Two tools stood out above the others for use at Focal Pointe. The first is a small tool and equipment tracking system which uses RFID tags to assign tools to crews and check them in helping to prevent misplacement. The second is a program that uses artificial intelligence to read satellite images to measure property features like grass area, mulch beds, and tree quantities. A program like this has the potential to save a lot of time measuring properties, allowing us to get estimates back to customers sooner.
Visiting trade shows and conferences like these two helps Focal Pointe stay ahead of the curve and to implement new technologies and tools. These continuous improvements allow us to do our jobs even better and create an even greater experience for our customers.