Blooming marvellous – Swingo 200+ at Kew Gardens
But it was the Swingo 200+ from Aebi Schmidt which won the day, beating off all the competition thanks to its build quality, ease of operation, and its wide radius of sweep. And so efficient has it proved since it began service in mid-March, that the world heritage site now needs to upgrade its paths’ maintenance plan, as the Swingo 200+ has uncovered areas that require repair and attention but which had previously been hidden under leaves and other debris.
Tony Kirkham, Head of Arboretum, Gardens and Horticultural Services at Kew, explained how the iconic venue, which dates back to 1759 and houses one of the world’s largest and most diverse botanical collections, came to opt for the Swingo. “With 25km of paths, across 300 acres and around 1.7m visitors a year, it’s a full time job to keep Kew clean and tidy. “We went out to tender for a new sweeper and came down to a shortlist of three. However, after having demos of all the contenders rather than going for the previous model we used, we decided to select the Swingo, even though it wasn’t the cheapest – although it was still within our budget. “But we were very impressed by the precision German build quality of the Swingo which was exceptional, the quality of the sweep and the suction power. It really stood out above all the competition,” he said.
Kirkham said that the machine’s ultimate operators played a key role in the decision and were instrumental in making the final choice. “Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), we were obliged to get our operators involved from an early stage to ensure that the machine was fit for purpose. “Our operators – we have kept it down to just two rather than having multiple operators – immediately liked the comfort in the cab, the air conditioning, the soundproofing, the all-round visibility, and the ease of use of the controls,” he said. And Kirkham explained that the Swingo’s ease of maintenance was another bonus from the decision. “The central auto-lube feature is a massive plus as it means that every key working part is being greased and saves us time and effort. It’s also very easy to access the engine and the built in power washer keeps it clean between jobs. “Also, the fact that it runs on normal road tyres helps keep the cost of replacement down. Most urban sweepers have special tyres to withstand bumping up kerbs which are very expensive to replace. But we have no kerbs here at Kew and standard road tyres are ideal.”
However, it was the Swingo’s range of sweep and its tremendous suction power which has probably been its biggest advantage in keeping Kew paths cleaner than ever before. The Swingo 200+ boasts a high hopper capacity and suction performance that operates at more than 8,600 m3/h, enabling it to sweep at high operating speeds and to collect large amounts of dirt, debris and leaves without any problems. This has unveiled areas of Kew paths that required attention which had never been noticed before. The need for little training in using the Swingo has been another bonus, with an Aebi Schmidt trainer spending a day with Kew’s two operators to make sure they were comfortable with the operation of the new machine. And when the Swingo needed servicing, an Aebi Schmidt engineer was soon onsite to carry out the work. “He announced himself as our engineer and got on very well.