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New tracking system proves to be worth its salt to MN-based Yardworx

IMG_3667Coordinating snow and ice management crews during a winter event is no easy task. That’s certainly true for a company like Yardworx Outdoor Services, which grew from a part-time gig in 2017 to a large full-service company employing 35 people plus subcontractors during the winter of 2021-2022. Based in Rogers, MN, Yardworx provides grounds maintenance, landscaping and snow and ice management services to the northern metro area of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, including more than 20 suburbs.

Technology has played an important role in the company’s success; and one tracking system in particular has especially proven to be worth its salt. As the company grew, so did the need for more sophisticated technology to coordinate crews and maximize efficiency. Yardworx owner Luke Benson Benson had invested in specialized snow management software to help manage operations, but then came across an additional equipment solution through conversations with a sales representative at Twin Star Truck Equipment, in Clearwater, MN.

“We needed additional [salter] units for use on our bigger trucks,” said Benson. “That’s when Hilltip’s HTrack system came up.”

Advanced precision and automation

The HTrack system, which is standard on all Hilltip spreaders and sprayers, allows winter service professionals to track and manage all Hilltip equipment via the web. This technology can be used to help minimize environmental impacts, track expenses, document services and more.

IMG_2265Benson purchased two 3.3-cubic-yard, stainless-steel spreaders with the HTrack system. Immediately, he was impressed by the precision capabilities compared with other spreaders Yardworx had used. Utilizing a GPRS two-way control system, the HTrack system brings a new level of precision and automation through its unique remote control and tracking capabilities.

 “Before, we would just set our controller dials at the number five and then drive at a set speed,” said Benson. “Even though we would calibrate the spreaders, it still wasn’t accurate. It was just a guess. With the HTrack controller, we’re able to apply deicer much more accurately. If I set the controller for 11 pounds per thousand square feet, then that’s what gets applied.”

By improving the accuracy of his deicer applications, Benson has saved a substantial amount of money on material. He said, “We’re covering more square footage with less material. The technology has paid for itself 100 percent.”

The HTrack’s geo-fencing feature Benson to remotely create work sites with preset application rates for each client. When a driver pulls into the work site, the controller uses GPS positioning to recognize it has arrived at the property and loads the correct preset material rate. The controller alerts the driver upon arrival and provides the option to start treating the area. “All a guy has to do is roll into the property, push the button on the screen and drive around,” said Benson. “When he pulls out of the jobsite, it automatically shuts off. It’s very user friendly for the operator.”

Improved documentation

BensonThe data from each application is recorded and transmitted to an online user interface in real time, thanks to two-way GPRS communication. That means Benson can view the route details of his equipment, including speed, GPS location and material used from any device.

The documentation provided by HTrack has proved extremely handy for Yardworx. Not only does it accurately show the amount of material spread on each site, but it also reports all the data needed to validate a site was treated according to service agreements. “We have been able to pull reports with maps and time stamps to provide to insurance companies for slip-and-fall incidents, which has been very helpful in protecting Yardworx and our clients,” said Benson. “In fact, we can use it in conjunction with the GPS tracking capabilities of our snow management software to show two forms of maps and time stamps of when and where our trucks were driven.”

Setup takes time

The only challenge in implementing the system has been the setup. However, for Benson it’s a small price to pay for the ability to geo-fence work sites and set application rates from the office. “It’s well worth the time,” he said. “It’s been a learning curve, and there is a lot of back-end setup, but that’s true with anything that’s worthwhile.”

Admittedly, Yardworx doesn’t use the HTrack system to its full potential. However, Benson plans to take advantage of more features in the future, especially hoping to integrate it with his snow management software. He said, “HTrack has a lot of capabilities, and we’re not using it nearly to where we should be.”

In fact, Benson plans to implement the technology throughout his winter maintenance equipment fleet. “We’ve already ordered two more Hilltip spreaders and we’ll be 100-percent Hilltip by next fall. We wouldn’t do that if we weren’t convinced by the technology.”

Learn more about the HTrack system at https://www.hilltip.com/en/